Ricoh's new Theta is a genuinely new kind of consumer gadget. The wand-shaped device has two opposite facing images, which can capture fully-spherical, 360-degree images. The resulting images are really cool looking and the Theta is a lot of fun to use but for $400, it's a bit pricey.
The 3.30-ounce device is simple enough to use in its most basic case. Just fire it up and push the shutter release on the body. Just like that, you've got an image. In order to actually enjoy this image you've taken, you've got to go to another device. Using the camera's built-in Wi-Fi, you can connect to a iOS and Android devices running the free Theta app, pull off the spherical photos, and edit them. You can also use the apps to remotely control the camera. The iOS app is available now and Android software should be ready by the end of the year, according to Ricoh. In addition to editing the photos on your mobile device, you can also edit and view the fully spherical images using Ricoh Theta for Mac.
The only way to share the interactive photos is through Ricoh's Theta360 portal. Here's a look at the Gawker Media Roof Deck. Pretty stunning. Unfortunately, it's impossible to embed these awesome interactive images. That's number one on our wish list for this product.
I've been playing with a production version of Theta for about a week now, but unfortunately, I only had access to a pre-final version of the iOS app—so I never got to to view the spherical images I took in the app. That said, the experience of viewing and zooming into the photos in the app is really a pleasure. Or it is, once you get connected. The pairing ritual never once worked on the first try, and in noisy airspace, it didn't work at all. Overall, the Theta itself seems like it could make a lot of people really happy, if only in one very particular and very limited way. Indeed, for $400, most people are probably going to want a toy that's good for more than just one trick. [Ricoh]