Like regular action cameras, 360-degree video is slowly coming to life around the world. The second iteration of the Gear 360 supports a significantly higher video resolution than the original, and when paired with a recent Samsung smartphone it can live broadcast 360-degree video to Facebook and YouTube.
The new Gear VR adds a trapezoidal neck to the existing dual-camera golf ball-shaped original, presumably housing the extra battery and processing power required to shoot in a 4K-esque 4096x2048pixel resolution at 24fps across both its imaging sensors. It's capable of 8.4-megapixel stills from a single camera covering a 195-degree field of view, while full 360-degree images are 15 megapixels.
With a 1160mAh battery the Gear 360 should have enough energy to record and broadcast for around an hour at a time, recharging over USB Type-C. To process video, it actually uses an upgraded version of the DRIMe5s imaging processor in Samsung's NX1, a mirrorless 24-megapixel pro-level digital SLR that I've used and loved two of for the last two years.
Where the new Gear 360 really appeals, though, is in its ability — with a compatible Samsung smartphone (like the Galaxy S8, S7, Note5 and 2017 A-Series) — to broadcast live 360-degree video to social media, as long as your 'net connection is fast enough. It'll output that in 2K resolution rather than 4K, though, but it'll also record that original 4K at the same time.
Facebook, YouTube, and Samsung's own VR app are supported out of the box, although it's not clear whether any other platforms like Twitter or Twitch are mooted for the future too. It'd require them to work on a 360-degree video player, and that in itself might require 360 video to actually get popular first.
The new Gear VR will set you back $399 when it goes on sale alongside the new Galaxy S8 in Australia on April 28.
Less than 24 hours from now, Samsung will reveal the Galaxy S8 to the world at its Unpacked event in New York. We'll be live blogging from the event, but you should also watch along with the live stream — so here's where to find it.