It seems like everybody wants a shot at 360-degree cameras these days. We’ve seen a number of new devices crop up in the past couple of months including the Moto 360 Camera, a mod for the Moto Z, and the Essential 360-degree camera from Andy Rubin’s startup. Now, it’s Acer‘s turn.
Acer has shown off its new 360-degree camera at a press conference ahead of IFA 2017. The Acer Holo360, which Acer first lifted the lid on in April, runs on Android 7.1 Nougat and has LTE capabilities — though it doesn’t have call features and can’t be used like a regular smartphone — with Acer pitching it as an all-in-one solution for livestream 360-degree videos.
The idea is that the Holo360 can allow users to capture and edit photos, as well as share them, all from a single device. It makes use of a Snapdragon 625 processor, which arrived as part of Qualcomm’s Connected Camera Platform introduced in 2016. This was designed to help manufacturers bring 360-degree camera devices to market with advanced image processing and networking features, such as the integrated X9 LTE modem and support for up to 24 MP images and 4K video at 30 FPS HEVC (high-efficiency video coding) capture.
The Holo360 also makes use of ImmerVision-certified panomorph optics, said to lack the “barrel distortion” artifact created by typical wide-angle lenses and can stitch videos in real-time. Add to this the possibility to shoot 6.9K resolution photos and videos in 4K, and it sounds like the Holo360 should able to deliver the good as far as capture is concerned.
It comes in an eye-catching package, featuring a brushed metal finish and 3-inch touchscreen the likes of which you don’t usually see in 360-degree cameras (you would be forgiven for mistaking it for an old-school voice recorder from certain angles). This design doesn’t really lend itself to high-octane, outdoor activities, however — it’s not the kind of camera you’d want if you were aiming to record something more action-oriented.
It felt like a comfortable, weighty, little chunk of metal, too, for the whole five seconds I held it before the booth lady snatched it from my grasp (while I probably could have juggled with Acer’s new Chromebook, the press were asked not to touch the Holo360 — reasons unknown.)
The main benefit of the Holo360 that Acer is trying to sell is its ability to do everything on-device. Viewing video directly without needing to pair the camera to a phone or a PC is a big bonus for those who need to upload and share content in the shortest possible time frame — and there aren’t that many devices capable of this on the market (most 360-degree cameras lack a touchscreen).
What’s more, because the device has its own power supply, LTE connectivity, and independent storage (I’ve asked for clarification on how this works in terms of internal storage or SD/MicroSD card support), it doesn’t need to rely on leeching these from a smartphone.
That said, those detachable 360-degree camera accessories for smartphones are still part of its competition, as they offer a similar kind of usage and often at a lower price point. Those who would be interesting in shooting 360-degree footage are probably tech savvy types who own a smartphone, and the choice between carrying a low-profile accessory or another almost smartphone-sized device to achieve might not fall in Acer’s favor.
My first impression is that the Holo360 is, if nothing else, a good-looking device that offers a distinct user-benefit — and we probably won’t be saying that about every device to come out of IFA this year. The real test will be how it performs, though, something which we’ll have to weigh-in on at a later date (booth staff be damned).
Acer didn’t talk battery life or any other specs at the press conference, but we do have some Acer Holo360 price and availability details. Acer says that the unit will be available in North America from November for $429, bundled with a water-resistant case, and will arrive to Europe, the Middle East and Africa also in Q4 with starting at €349. Look out for more on this device closer to launch date.
What are your initial impressions of the Acer Holo360? Let us know in the comments.