UNBOXED: Reviewing the Ricoh Theta V
Just about a year ago, we took a look at a new product from Ricoh called the Theta SC—a 360-degree camera that was simple to use, not super expensive, and an all around great device. That’s why we gave it one of our first perfect ratings.
Recently, Ricoh reached back out and asked us to take a look at an upgraded version of the SC called the Theta V. It’s essentially the same product from a look and feel perspective. But there are a number of internal and in-app upgrades that take the Theta V to the next level.
For starters, Ricoh added 4K shooting and streaming capability to the Theta V. That means those videos and live streaming 360-degree experiences the user creates will come through in a crisp format that’s pleasing on the eyes. And with the internal stitching software, there’s no need to download extra high-powered software and edit the videos together. Ricoh does all of that for you and gives the consumer near-instant access to their photos and videos through the Theta app.
The only real complaints that I found with the Theta V, which were still there from when we looked at the SC, include the lack of true image stabilization (which isn’t totally needed, but would be nice to have), and a larger storage capacity. To the former point, the Theta V isn’t necessarily intended to be an action camera, a la GoPro, but with new accessories like the Underwater Housing TW-1, it’s almost like Ricoh is pushing the consumer in that direction with the Theta V. So, why not add that to the camera? And to the latter point, consumers get about 5 minutes of video recording in 4K, which runs out quicker than you’d think. You can transfer those videos onto your smartphone and delete them from the camera, but it’d be nicer to not have to do it so frequently.
Those gripes aside, the Theta V remains one of the best 360-degree camera experiences I’ve ever had the pleasure of reviewing.
Ricoh added a few new wrinkles to the product that make it even more fun. One new feature is that it comes equipped with a gyro sensor and remote playback. Basically what this means is that consumers can use their Theta V as a remote to stream their 360-degree videos and images to almost any monitor. The Theta V then functions as a remote and utilizes the gyroscope tech to move the image up, down, left, and right. It can also zoom in and out.
Consumers can now also connect to the Theta V through its internal wireless network or Bluetooth. The new Bluetooth function means consumers can stay connected to the camera at all times and control it through the Ricoh app to take pictures and all of the other normal functions. What you lose in Bluetooth, though, is the ability to transfer images. But it’s a more convenient way to stay constantly connected to the device while on the go. As for those transfers, Ricoh said it drastically improved the speed at which they happened—approximately 2.5 times faster than before.
The next step for Ricoh appears to be expanding the accessories market for the Theta line. The aforementioned underwater add-on lets the user take the Theta into a unique setting for 360-degree imaging. The company also developed a 3D Microphone (the TA-1) that is capable of recording spatial audio, which improves the VR experience of watching Theta V videos.
In all, the experience with the Theta V was still a great one, and one that is easy to recommend to anyone looking for a simple-to-use 360-degree camera. The image and video quality is beyond impressive, and the low cost of entry ($379.99) makes this one of the best 360-degree options on the market.