Review: VSN Mobil V.360 Camera
VSN Mobil's V.360 Camera ($400) is a Bluetooth and Wi-Fi-enabled standalone camera which lets users take pictures or record video in a full 360 degrees. It works with either an included remote or a free iOS app. The single lens camera can take very wide, panoramic pictures and videos, with an image resolution of up to 7MP, and video resolution up to 6480 x 1080 in HD with a 30 fps frame rate. A 2.3 GHz Qualcomm Snapdragon 800 quad-core processor powers V.360, and photos are stored on a micro-SD card, which is sold separately. V.360's removable 2610 mAh battery can be recharged using the included micro-USB cable and charger via USB 3.0. The camera can also be hooked up to an external display via the HDMI port.
Though V.360 Camera appears fragile at first — the high price tag probably contributes to that idea — looks can be deceiving. The shockproof, IP67-rated camera can be submerged 1 meter underwater for up to 30 minutes. V.360 is roughly 4” tall, and about 2 5/8” in diameter at its widest point. It comes with a silicone sleeve, carrying bag, waterproof battery door, adhesive dash mount, and even an adapter that makes V.360 compatible with GoPro mounts — again, this isn’t a flimsy piece of equipment.
Setting up V.360 for the first time isn’t much of a challenge — you just plug in the removable battery, insert a micro-SD card, and install the free iOS app. From there, the app will take care of the rest. The V.360 app lets users record video and time-lapse video, photos and burst photos, and a surveillance setting that takes photos or videos based on sound or movements. Among other features, the app shows the camera’s battery life — which we found to be impressive — shows how many photos you’ve taken and the remaining capacity on the current card, and also allows users to switch from a flat view to a 360 view.
It’s worth noting that two key features — the ability to look at your photos and videos on your phone and to get a live view of what you’re seeing or watching — are Wi-Fi only. Luckily, V.360 Camera can also act as a Wi-Fi access point, either unsecured or encrypted. It’s an important feature, and in our testing, it worked without any issues.
Taking photos is simple enough, with a click of the photo button on the app or on the remote. We prefer the app, of course — if you’ve got an iOS device there’s not much reason not to use the app. Photos are best compared to similar panoramas we took on an iPhone 6 Plus. Though the V.360 Camera is easier to use — one button push and you’ve got a full 360-degree shot — the upward-facing angle is different, and the photos are of lower quality than iPhone 6 Plus panoramas. But the file sizes are much smaller. If you need to take lots of panoramic photos, V.360 is a good option, but for most users, the iPhone will be preferable for those rare panorama shots.
Video is where the V.360 camera really excels. With one button push, the camera delivers smooth 360-degree video. The video is stored as an mp4 file on the camera card, which can then be watched in two separate panes stacked on top of each other — both separate halves show 180 degrees of the video at the same time, letting users see everything happening at once. It’s a seriously cool feature that works very well — outdoor videographers and creative types should be able to put it to good use.
We experienced a few issues at times connecting to V.360 via Bluetooth while we were outside. The camera would be set up, and we’d lose the connection while not even 10 feet away. Other days, however, we had no problems at all. Users can always fall back on the Wi-Fi access point option when using the app, which is nice. Our firmware was updated to the newest version during testing, so we’re hoping any lingering Bluetooth bugs can be fixed with future updates.
V.360 Camera is a very interesting product. Some may see it as an alternative to a GoPro, while others probably wouldn’t mind having both cameras in their arsenal. V.360 works well with the iOS app, and though there are some issues, it’s a neat camera, and we were pretty impressed. Considering what the camera does — and its hefty price tag — it’s definitely a niche product. Improved image quality or a lower price tag would go a long way, if there’s ever a second version of the camera. But for those active photographers/videographers who don’t mind a little splurge and are looking for something different, V.360 Camera is a fun, versatile accessory.