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Kodak Pixpro SP360 Shoots 360-Degree Video, Looks Like R2D2

LAS VEGAS – The world of 360-degree video recording cameras is dominated by less-known brands and Kickstarter-funded projects. Now Kodak is  hankering for a piece of that pie, showing off its Pixpro SP360 action camera at the CTIA tech show this week. I had a chance to play around with the small boxy shooter, which will retail this fall, with a bundle of accessories, starting at $350.

Just slightly larger than a roll of film (remember what that was?), the SP360 looks like a teeny R2D2 without the legs. It’s a small rectangular box in the familiar Kodak yellow, with a black, dome-shaped camera that protrudes from the top.

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The SP360 can shoot video in four ways – front, 360-degree panorama, round (more on that later) and dome. Round records two simultaneous videos, one of the front 180-degree vista and one of the back. Dome captures 360-degree footage from the top portion of the scene, creating a dome-like view. 

The 16-megapixel camera carries a rather small 1/2.3-inch sensor. We'll have to wait for sample images or a review unit to see what kind of picture quality that will deliver, since the demo unit wasn't hooked up. Its onboard 1,250-mAh battery will last you through 160 minutes of video recording at 1080p and 30 fps or 350 still pictures, based on the CIPA battery-testing standards.

SP360 is capable of shooting stills at up to 10 frames per second, and supports a somewhat limited ISO light sensitivity range of ISO 100 to 800 — limiting you to bright-light shooting. With Wi-Fi and NFC support, the SP360 connects wirelessly to devices running iOS 6 and later or Android 4.0 and up via the Pixpro SP360 app. You can insert a microSD card to record your clips directly to the card.

On the camera are physical buttons to start recording, power on/off, or launch a menu to view on the 1-inch LCD monitor, which also shows status indicators such as battery level. A tripod mount at the bottom lets you attach the camera to compatible mounts.

Other 360-degree cameras on the market are larger than Kodak’s cute little SP360. VSN Mobil’s V.360 is hefty and will likely cost around $500 (a price hasn't been announced). The 360Cam is slightly larger than a fist and retails for $500. Kodak's $350 package for the SP360 includes an Explorer Pack of accessories consisting of helmet straps, four different mounts (bar, adhesive) and a housing unit.

The SP360 made its first appearance earlier this year, but Kodak says this version is the newest and will retail in the fall.

Staff Writer Cherlynn Low thinks that gadgets are better when they get smaller. Follow her @cherlynnlow. Follow Tom's Guide at @tomsguide and on Facebook.