When you first see the all-new Ricoh Theta, it might remind you a bit of those old Apple remotes. But this is no remote, it’s a new-fangled camera that can snap 360-degree panoramas in one click — no swiping or stitching required — with some help from the free companion iOS app (Android coming later this year).
Usually we save pricing info for the end with products, but in this case, the $400 price tag that Ricoh has attached to the little device is making a big splash:
Engadget pegs the proper price for a product like this at “$100, maybe a buck fifty,’ while The Verge says that “even if that price were halved, we imagine many people wouldn’t want to spend so much on a tool they’d likely only use in rare instances.”
So there you go, it’s expensive. What the Theta offers for that “consumer-friendly” price, however, is one-click 360-degree capability in a tiny package. The optics consist of a tiny twin-lens system that captures the scene around, above and below the device, yielding a fully spherical shot.
Here’s a video showing how the camera works with the free app:
And another video showing the Theta in action:
To keep the Theta so small — only 95 grams and not much bigger than the palm of your hand — Ricoh has eschewed an LCD screen, relying instead on users linking the Theta to their iOS device via WiFi. Once connected, you can use the phone to view the photos, click the shutter remotely, and adjust exposure before the shot.
After the shot, the app will allow you to pinch, swipe and rotate the image, as well as edit the size, shape and composition of the final shot before you save and upload it to whatever social network you prefer. It’s worth noting, however, that exporting the shots to your desktop flattens them, so if you want to share the spheres, you’ll have to do it though the Ricoh Theta website.
You can learn more about the Ricoh Theta by watching the videos embedded above, or visiting the Theta’s dedicated website here. If you’re interested in buying the tiny panoramic device, Ricoh will begin taking pre-orders in the US, UK, France and Germany later this month.