Alongside its new Galaxy S7 smartphone, Samsung has a slightly more out-of-left-field gadget at Mobile World Congress this year. The new Gear 360 is a virtual reality-ready, high-resolution camera that can snap photos and record 360-degree video, and then share it directly to Facebook or YouTube.
Recording at a maximum resoluton of 3840x1920 pixels, the Gear 360 uses two 180-degree f2.0 lenses with individual 15-megapixel sensors behind them. You can control the Gear 360 from your smartphone, but it also has a multipurpose photo/video recording button on the top of its equatorially-bulging spherical body that will start and stop recording. A small, monochrome OLED display in front of that tells you what mode you're in.
There are only two other buttons on the Gear 360; a menu toggle that switches between photo and video, and a back button that also functions as a power toggle. The connection between smartphone and camera is Bluetooth, and the initial link can be kicked off via NFC. Samsung is also going to include a miniature tripod in the box with the Gear 360, but it does also support any of a million different tripods out there with a standard quarter-inch screw thread underneath.
A camera like this, without any preview screen, necessarily needs a wirelessly connected device to make the most of it. When you have a phone hooked up and the Gear 360 powered on, you can navigate all around your live preview by swiping on the smartphone's screen, and pinching to zoom. Once you're recording, you can continue looking around — an impressive feat that takes a fair bit of processing power and electronic smarts.
Once you've captured a 360-degree photo or video, it can be shared from the camera to your smartphone using the Samsung Gear 360 app on Android; if you have a Galaxy S7, it'll stitch the video and photo frames together on the fly, otherwise a PC is required. The Gear 360 is coming to Australia this year, but we just don't know exactly when and how much it'll cost. As soon as we know, we'll share that info, so stay tuned. [Samsung]