Samsung today announced that it will launch its Gear 360 virtual reality camera in the U.S. later this week, but on a limited basis. The device will only be available for purchase during the VidCon event in Anaheim, Calif. and is priced at $350. Those who aren’t in attendance at the conference will have to wait until later this year for an additional announcement of availability.
Introduced at this year’s Mobile World Congress, the Samsung Gear 360 is a lightweight camera containing two lenses that can capture 360-degree photos and videos. The electronics manufacturer said at the time that the first device would ship in Q2 2016, and it did — just not in the U.S.
The limited release of VidCon is an effort by Samsung to appeal to filmmakers and content producers, and coincides with its launch of a creators program to encourage virtual reality video production.
Weighing 5.39 ounces (153 grams), the Gear 360 is Samsung’s consumer-friendly way of getting people hooked on creating virtual reality content, at least when it comes to 360 media. The device features tools and a mobile app that enable filmmakers to edit and share that “Wow” moment.
The camera comes with two f/2.0 fish-eye lenses that take 195-degree photos and videos, which are stitched together automatically. Photos of up to 30 megapixels are supported, along with near-4K videos, when captured at high resolution (3840×1920). The device holds up to 128GB of content stored in a microSD card, which gives you the equivalent of 7 hours of video at the highest resolution. It’s also equipped with a 1,350 mAh lithium-ion battery that lasts up to two hours.
As Samsung pushes for more VR content, it wants to be the public’s first choice for technology in the space. Of course, there’s no shortage of options for people to select from — the Gear 360 competes against the $350 Ricoh Theta S camera, the $400 360fly’s 4K camera, the $500 Giroptic 360cam, the $800 Bublcam, and the $500 Kodak SP360.
“VR is amazing, but it is in its infancy,” Samsung research executive Injong Rhee said at the company’s developer conference in April. “It’s not just for professionals. It’s for consumers as well. With our introduction of the Gear 360 camera, we enable more people to create VR content.”
Perhaps now with its Samsung Galaxy S7 and S7 edge smartphones, the Gear 360 camera, and its Gear VR headset, Samsung’s product line will encourage a plethora of new content — at least that’s what the company is hoping.