More than five months after its debut, Samsung’s Gear 360 virtual reality camera is now going on sale in the U.S., starting August 19. The $349 camera will be available for purchase through a variety of online retailers, following limited releases during VidCon and Lollapalooza.
Announced in conjunction with Samsung’s unveiling of its Note7 smartphone and an updated Gear VR headset, the company’s lightweight VR camera is now available in its second market — in April, it was made available in South Korea. The device had been promised in the second quarter but was obviously delayed until this month.
Priced at $350, the camera is in direct competition with a number of other consumer-focused devices, such as the Ricoh Theta S, 360fly’s 4K camera, Giroptic’s 360cam, and Kodak’s SP360.
Weighing 5.39 ounces (153 grams), the Samsung Gear 360 is a spherical camera with two F/2.0 fish-eye lenses that capture 195-degree photos and videos and then stitch them together. It allows photos of up to 30 megapixels and supports “90 percent of 4K” for the whole sphere when you’re capturing images at the highest resolution (3840×1920). The device holds up to 128GB of memory in a microSD card, allowing you to shoot up to 7 hours of video at the highest quality. It also has a 1,350 mAH lithium-ion battery that lasts up to two hours.
As Samsung is interested in creating an ecosystem of products, it has unveiled software and services designed to encourage creators to use its 360 camera. This summer, it introduced a Creator program that provides tutorials, seminars, and classes for filmmakers and influencers interested in telling 360-degree video stories. The company also transformed Samsung Milk VR into a marketplace for all user-generated content from 360-degree videos.
“We want to bring the power of VR technology directly to the people,” Samsung Electronics America’s chief marketing officer, Marc Mathieu, explained in a statement at the time.
It’s likely that by making the device available at VidCon and Lollapalooza, the company wanted to build up excitement about the Gear 360, while also laying a foundation among influencers and creators who can help it build up market share within the U.S.