Saturday, July 30, 2016

DEALS: Steam VR weekend sale



There's a special sale on almost 200 Steam VR apps and games for the HTC Vive and some for Oculus Rift, with discounts up to 80%.  It's good only until August 1, 2016 10am Pacific Time.

NVidia offers to settle GTX 970 class action lawsuit


NVidia offered to settle the GTX 970 class action lawsuit by giving buyers a $30 rebate.

In February 2015, NVidia was sued for false advertising in connection with its GTX 970 VR-ready graphics card.  Users noticed that although the GTX 970 was advertised as having 4GB of RAM, its performance dropped when the RAM usage exceeded 3.5GB.  It turned out that the GTX 970's RAM was made up of two components: a 3.5 GB component and a much slower 512MB component.  The GTX 970 also had only 56 render output processors (ROPs) instead of the advertised 64.

The GTX 970 average retail price was around $350 in February 2015.  NVidia's settlement offer is not final until approved by the court.

Playstation VR Space Requirements Grossly Exaggerated by Press



The Playstation VR is due for release on October 13.  Meanwhile, there have recently been several articles claiming that the Playstation VR will require 60 square feet of playing space.  I've already tried the PSVR and I can assure you, the space requirements are grossly exaggerated.

BASICS: How to watch YouTube 360 videos on Samsung Gear VR



Strangely, there is no YouTube app yet for the Samsung Gear VR.  However, you can still watch YouTube 360 videos with the Gear VR using the Samsung Internet Browser.

Friday, July 29, 2016

DEALS: Brand new, complete VR-ready PC for $720!





You can now get a brand new, complete VR-ready PC for $720 with free shipping!  The CyberPowerPC Gamer Xtreme VR GXiVR8020A has the following:


-  Intel i5-6402P 2.8GHz Quad-Core
- 8GB DDR4 RAM
- 1TB HDD
- AMD Radeon RX 480 4GB VR-Ready graphics card
- Genuine Windows 10 Home 64-bit
- 6 x USB 3.0 | 4 x USB 2.0
- includes Keyboard and Mouse
- free lifetime tech support






This is the most affordable brand new VR-ready PC I've seen so far, by a significant margin!  The 8020 been tested with both the HTC Vive and Oculus Rift.  The 8020 is an Amazon exclusive and is not available elsewhere.






Update: CyberPower also a similar VR-ready PC but with an AMD processor, also for $720:


The CyberPowerPC Gamer Ultra GUA4400 features the following:
- AMD FX-6300 3.5GHz Six-Core
- 8GB DDR3 RAM
- 1TB HDD
- Windows 10 home 64-bit
- AMD RX 480 4GB VR-ready graphics card
- 6x USB 2.0
- keyboard and mouse
- free lifetime tech support


The advantage of the AMD is a higher clock speed (3.5ghz vs. the Intel's 2.8ghz) and it's a 6-core while the Intel is a quad-core.   On the other hand, the AMD uses DDR3 RAM while the Intel uses DDR4.  In addition, the AMD PC has 6 USB 2.0 ports, and no USB 3.0 ports.  This is sufficient for the HTC Vive, which needs only one USB 2.0 port, but if you want to use the Oculus Rift, you'll need to add USB 3.0 ports (the Rift requires three USB 3.0 ports and one USB 2.0 port).


Whichever you choose, it's good to know that both are assembled by a reputable company.  CyberPowerPC won PC Magazine's 2016 Reader's Choice Award for Overall Desktops PCs.  Both come with free lifetime tech support.






If you would like to purchase either PC, please consider purchasing through the affiliate links below, which would be a welcome way of supporting 360rumors, at no additional cost to you!




Budget VR-Ready gaming PC for $600 or less with NVidia GTX 1060!


One of the obstacles to using a desktop VR system such as the Oculus Rift (previewed here) or HTC Vive is the high cost of a VR-ready PC, which is generally at least $1,000.   However, I was able to cobble together a VR-ready PC for $600, thanks to the new NVidia GTX 1060.  Hit the jump to see its performance!

Next Samsung Gear VR leaked!



On August 2, Samsung will announce the Note 7.  However, according to NowhereElse.fr, we may also see the next Samsung Gear VR.

According to NWE, the next Gear VR will be compatible with the USB Type C used in the Note 7, but will also be retroactively compatible with the Note 5, S6 series and S7 series.  The field of view will also increase from 96 degrees to 110 degrees.  It will be available next month.

There was no word on whether either the Note 7 or new Gear VR will be compatible with Google Daydream.  However, I think the Gear VR will indeed be Daydream compatible: First, Daydream is set to launch this Fall, and Samsung is a Daydream partner.  It is unlikely that Samsung will release two competing headsets within the same time frame.  It is much more likely that Gear VR will be cross-compatible with Daydream.  Second, if there is indeed a change in field of view as indicated by NWE, it could be an indication that the Gear VR was modified to make it Daydream-compatible.

Check out NowhereElse's post!  Thanks to Mike Cane for bringing this to my attention!  For more information on the Samsung Gear VR, see my review or this FAQ.

Samsung Gear 360 Underwater Videos

Here are underwater videos from the Samsung Gear 360 using a self-made underwater housing.  They were captured by Sdoin?  in the Maldives.

I found this video on 360CamerasForums.com, a forum for discussing 360 cameras and techniques.





Meanwhile, Samsung has a dedicated underwater housing  (see also an actual photo here) for the Samsung Gear 360, but so far it has only been available in Europe.


Thursday, July 28, 2016

Radeon RX 480 in stock tomorrow July 29 at B&H for $250



The VR-ready Radeon RX 480 will be available at B&H tomorrow for $249.99.  (You can preorder it now.) 

The Radeon RX 480 is a VR-ready graphics card that is designed to be more affordable, while providing similar performance to the NVidia GTX 980.  The RX 480 is positioned against the NVidia GTX 1060 which also provides similar performance to the GTX 980.  However, the RX 480's MSRP is $200, while the GTX 1060's MSRP is $250.  Due to demand, the street price for the RX 480 is around $250 or more, while the GTX 1060 is selling for around $300.  Even at $250, the RX 480 is not easy to find in stock.

Meanwhile, the GTX 1060 will be available at B&H on August 6 for $269.99 (you can also preorder now).

Ricoh Theta S app for iOS now allows sharing to YouTube



The iOS version of the Ricoh Theta S app now allows sharing to YouTube directly.  This makes uploading 360 videos much more convenient for Theta users.

Ricoh Theta+ Video app now available for Android!


The Theta+ Video app for Android is finally available!  The app enables users to edit 360 videos from the Ricoh Theta, such as applying filters, or transforming them to other views such as a little planet or rabbit hole.

The app had been available for iOS for several months now.

Review: Insta360 Nano - a 360-degree camera for (almost) everyone



The Insta360 Nano is a 360-degree camera for the iPhone. I got my order on launch day July 18 and have been testing it in "real world" conditions.  Here is a review. 

The review will cover the following topics.
1. Background
2. What's in the box*
3. Description / Parts*
4. Phone compatibility*
5. Using the Nano
6. Accessories
7. Viewing Photos and Videos
8. Editing Photos and Videos
9. Sharing Photos and Videos
10. Image Quality
11. Livestream
12. Pros and Cons; Summary; comparison with other cameras

*These parts are identical to those in my preliminary review, so feel free to jump ahead if you've already read that.
Camera firmware version: v1.43_0160
App version: 1.2.0




Wednesday, July 27, 2016

Insta360 Stereo is a hemispherical 3D 360 camera


​Insta360 Stereo is a camera that takes hemispherical 3D 360 photos and videos.  It is made by Shenzhen Arashi Vision, which has also made the Insta360 4k and Nano fully spherical 2D 360 cameras.


The Stereo was exhibited at CeBIT, but so far there is still very little information about the Stereo.  The Stereo competes with the LucidCam, another camera that also takes hemispherical 3D 360 photos and videos, due for release in December 2016, and with Vuze, the first affordable fully spherical 3D 360 camera due in October 2016.

This is GoPro's LiveVR 2-lens livestreaming 360 camera



We've seen the GoPro Odyssey, its 16-camera 3D 360 rig implementation of Google Jump.  We've also seen the GoPro Omni, its 6-camera 360 rig with 8k resolution.  GoPro has another 360 camera - one that is much more compact and unlike the GoPro rigs, does not require stitching, and is indeed capable of livestreaming in 360.  Hit the jump for the details.

Tuesday, July 26, 2016

You, too, can build a broadcast-quality 3D 360 camera


Facebook posted the instructions for its Surround 360 camera, an open-source 3D 360 camera with up to 8k resolution.




The parts cost around $30,000, and took an engineer 4 hours to build.  Is it worth it?  Here is a sample video from the Surround.


Meanwhile you may also be interested in:
  • Live Planet, a 3D 360 camera with 4k livestreaming, available for preorder now ($4,995 preorder, MSRP $9,995, due Q4 2016).
  • Orb VR, a 3D 360 camera with livestreaming, available late 2017 (price TBD).
  • Vuze, an affordable fully spherical 3D 360 camera with 4k resolution, available for preorder now ($799; due October 2016).
  • LucidCam, an affordable hemispherical 3D 360 camera with 4k 2k video resolution (4k photo resolution), available for preorder now ($429; due December 2016).

Vuze Camera sample 360 photo posted; production still on schedule



Vuze Camera is the first affordable fully spherical 3D 360 camera, and it's the camera I'm most eagerly anticipating in 2016. 





Vuze has already posted several 3D 360 sample videos, such as this one.  They have now finally uploaded a 360 photo on their Facebook page as well.  It's a beautiful photo of the twin peaks of Maroon Bells in Colorado:

Transform your 360 videos with Insta360 Studio, a free 360 photo and video editor


Insta360 Studio is a free software that enables you to view 360 photos and videos, and edit 360 videos.  It's available for both Windows and Mac OS X.




The software is from Insta360, makers of the Insta360 4k and the Nano cameras.  However, it can also be used for photos and videos taken by other 360 cameras as long as they're in standard equirectangular .jpg or .mp4 format.  In addition to jpg and mp4, Studio can also read Insta360's proprietary .INSP 360 photo and .INSV 360 video format.


When viewing photos or videos, you can switch from a regular 360 view, or a little planet view.  In either view, you can use the mouse to drag the view to a different perspective.


You can also use Studio to edit videos (but not photos), transforming them into different perspectives.  In this sense, it has a similar function to mobile apps such as Rollworld, which are not yet available for Android.  However, Studio offers multiple transformations and more sophisticated transformation controls.


When editing, you'll be shown a timeline of the video.  You can then add any number of keyframes along the timeline.  At each keyframe, you can choose the particular perspective that you want.  Studio will then transition from one keyframe perspective to the next.  You can also change the transition pace by clicking on the line between a keyframe.  You can then export the video in mp4 format.

Here's a sample video (from the Insta360 Nano) edited with the Studio


Nico360 Sample Shows Potential


Nico360 is a very compact, waterproof 360-degree camera.  Yesterday, they posted an actual full resolution sample photo.  The photo stirred some controversy among backers.  Here's why I'm not concerned.

Monday, July 25, 2016

Insta360 Nano app updated: logo now optional


The Insta360 Nano app has been updated, as promised by Insta360 last week.  The update includes the following improvements:

1. You can share 360 photos "on Line, [Facebook Messenger] and WhatsApp."
2. "Snap and Save to Album in playing page."  You can take a shot of a particular perspective.  For example, you can change the view to little planet, then press the new snapshot button to save the little planet view to your Camera Roll.
3. Insta360 watermark/logo is now removable.  It can also be changed to a white logo, or a picture of the Insta360 mascot.
4. bug fixes.

The ability to remove the Insta360 Nano watermark / logo addresses one of my chief complaints against the otherwise quite capable Insta360 Nano (preliminary review here).  I'm updating the preliminary review.  I'm also posting a review on or before Wednesday July 27.

Lollapalooza VR experiences through Samsung


The Lollapalooza annual music festival will be held this weekend from July 28 to July 31, 2016 at Grant Park, Chicago, IL.  Samsung wants to enhance the experience for Galaxy smartphone owners who are attending the festival.  Among other benefits, Samsung will offer "VR-Palooza," a VR experience that includes 360 livestreaming from the Samsung Stage using the Samsung Gear VR, and "4D VR" surfing, skateboarding, and hot air balloon VR experiences.  Samsung will also make limited quantities of the Samsung Gear 360 camera (reviewed here) available for purchase for $349.99.


To participate, you'll need to activate your Lollapalooza wristband here.

PSA: Democratic National Convention is being livestreamed in 360



Just a reminder that the Democratic National Convention is being livestreamed in 360.  There are several ways to watch:
Last week, the Republican National Convention was also livestreamed in 360 on YouTube and the RNC app.



Please note these links do not imply any political endorsement of either party.

Nico360 sample photo posted! May be upgraded to 4k


The Nico 360 is touted as the smallest 360-degree camera (previewed here).  Moreover, it is waterproof, has 25mp photo resolution, and several other features.  The Indiegogo crowdfunding campaign is doing very well (so far, more than 3x the funding goal, with a month left).  Hit the jump to see the sample and other good news.

Samsung Gear VR - FAQ



Here is a detailed FAQ for the Samsung Gear VR, a mobile VR platform (reviewed here).

8/5/16 update: added info re Samsung Gear VR 2016
3/20/17 update: added info re Samsung Gear VR 2017, added info re troubleshooting guide from JoyofAndroid.com.

Samsung Gear 360 teardown



Wondering what the Samsung Gear 360 (reviewed here) looks like inside?  Check out this teardown by Mark Rodenburg!



Sunday, July 24, 2016

TECHNIQUE: Close Up Shot in 360 Video



360 cameras have an ultrawide focal length, which is great for capturing scenery.  However, sometimes you want to show a close up view of the subject.  If you bring the 360 camera closer to the subject, they'll appear distorted.

One solution is to overlay a shot from another camera with a telephoto lens.  That's the approach used in this short video by InStyle, showing a modeling shoot of popular Indian actress Priyanka Chopra.


In the video, you can see close up photos and videos of Priyanka, which were overlaid on the 360 video, giving viewers a close-up view within the 360 video.

Here's the video: