Review: Hack Things Poppy 3D Camera for iPhone 4/4S/5/5c/5s + iPod touch 5G
Although it's somewhat reminiscent of an old-school View-Master, Hack Things' Poppy 3D Camera ($60) is more advanced than that toy. Made to work with a wide range of iPhones and the fifth-generation iPod touch, the system is made up of a large plastic body with a slot for a tray that holds your device. Pop it in, flip open the mirror array on the front, and Poppy will take stereographic images -- two pictures, side-by-side, giving the appearance of depth when viewed through the viewfinder. Holes on the underside of the camera body allow you to access the iPhone or iPod's display, and a carrying bag and strap are included.
Poppy is not a small accessory. It’s 6.5” long, 5.75” wide, and 2.5” tall when fully compacted. Flip open the mirrored surface, and it gains an inch in height and 1.75” in width. The body is mostly a hollow plastic shell, with two eye holes covered by what feels to be clear plastic, and a molded nose frame at one end. On either side, there are holes to attach a lanyard, and right in the center of the underside, a tripod attachment point.
Two plastic trays are included to accommodate various devices. One holds the iPhone 5, 5c, 5s, and fifth-generation iPod touch, while the other can accommodate the iPhone 4 and 4S. They both work the same way, though: once the frame is inserted into Poppy’s slot, the handset is then inserted. The left edge, now oriented upwards, remains exposed, with the frame also permitting access to the Home Button and headphone port.
After walking you through a simple introduction and calibration, Poppy is ready to be used. From the app’s main page, there are four options. Two take you to stereographic photos that have been shared on social media, one allows you to take photos and videos, and the other lets you see those that you’ve shot. The holes on Poppy’s underside allow you to reach up and control the screen, while photos can be taken either with the on-screen shutter or the volume up button.
Images taken on Poppy can only be viewed properly with the hardware; otherwise, they’re simply side-by-side shots. When a photo has been properly composed, the 3-D effect can actually be pretty neat. We liked some of the “best of” examples posted in the app, which use the illusion of depth properly. If the photo has objects at varying distances, you’ll see layers in the images that aren’t otherwise possible. Our shots around the office were a bit less exciting, but still showed off what Poppy can do.
Poppy does something that’s somewhat cool, but the expense of the frame is a big limitation on its appeal. Half the value in a camera is being able to share images, but to see Poppy’s output, your friends or colleagues must also shell out $60 or find a way to access your viewer. We like the idea behind the product, but it’s not worth such a steep price, and merits our C+ rating.