Sport and action cameras are big business, and even though there are a couple of main players, it doesn't stop other's trying to get a bite of the apple. Geonaute, however, have come at the situation from a different angle. Heck, they're coming at it from every angle, with its 360-degree offering. Equipped with three 8-megapixel wide-angle lenses the camera captures an almost spherical field of view. This might initially sound like a strange idea... after all, who wants all of that in one video, won't it all be warped beyond recognition? The short answer is no, in fact it's much better than you would ever have thought, and we'll explain why shortly. Going back to the camera itself, it looks a little like the innards of those security cameras you find in government buildings etc that peer at you ominously. However, in this case, the three lenses have color detail around them which makes them look anything but sinister, and the circular base section might look a little large, but in fact it's light in the hand -- and actually helps it sit quite comfortably atop a helmet.
In 360 video mode the advertised resolution is up to 2,048 x 1,024. In photo mode you'll get single shot, burst and time-lapse modes with a top resolution of 4,096 x 2,048. The actual FOV is 360 degrees on the horizontal, and 150 degrees vertically, but the end result is a fairly complete viewing sphere. The 3,000 mAh battery should be good for two hours of footage, and the microSD card slot will take cards of up to 32GB. While there is a waterproof housing, the camera itself will take the elements on pretty well thanks to its IPX7 rating. Read on after the break for more impressions.
We initially thought that the footage would be a 2D image of a 360-degree panorama, but this isn't the case. In fact, the footage is best served up via the firm's own (embeddable) player that lets the viewer choose the viewing angle on the fly from a more conventional viewing angle (think of Google's Street View, but moving). We have to say that the end result is mighty impressive. This also means that technically you can watch your video back countless times, and never really watch the same clip (if you choose too).
More practical applications of this mean that you could just film your activity from one position, and then just choose the best angles after the fact. You can also limit the viewing angle if you wish, so as not to grab everything, or if you just want a more conventional front or rear facing shot. There are mobile apps, a wrist watch-style remote control too, meaning there's likely to be a bunch more fun you can have with this thing going forward. In our time with the camera we had a genuine feeling of excitement about the possibilities this camera could represent. Imagine this at parties, road trips, concerts. Being able to grab everything at the same time seems like a luxury that blows open the creative possibilities. If this sounds like something you'd like to get behind, under or wherever (given that it doesn't matter) you should be able to do so in summer, with an expected price of $399 / 399€.
You can view the sample footage below, or go here to see the player in full.
Sean Cooper contributed to this report