Hands-on: Ricoh Theta, a 360-degree spherical camera that fits inside your pocket



We scoured just about every corner of the Las Vegas Convention Center during our CES coverage last week and while paying a visit to the Ricoh booth (for our own leisure), we uncovered a fun little gizmo called the Ricoh Theta. Released during the summer of last year, the Theta is a tiny camera that can easily slide inside your skinny jeans and is outfitted with 2 fish-eye lens cameras to snap 360-degree photos of the entire world around you, with little effort.

Much like Android’s Photo Sphere, or the recently funded Panono, photos can then be viewed using Ricoh’s special app to pan around and view the world as if you were there. The benefit the Theta has over Android’s Photo Sphere is in its ease of use (no need to fiddle around with multiple shots to get the stitching perfect). When compared against something like the Panono — which features 36 cameras firing a combined 108MP image — the Theta is much smaller, and retails for about $200 less than the Panono ball.

Picnic in Hikarigaoka park Tokyo – Spherical Image – RICOH THETA

Ricoh Theta sample 2

But that doesn’t mean the Theta is perfect. We found image quality to be somewhat lacking (only when zoomed in), but then again what Ricoh is really trying to sell is the experience the Theta offers, something that adds a new level of immersion to traditional snapshots. Also, you’ll need the special-made Theta app (for Android and iOS) to view your spherical images and as it stands, they’re only sharable on Facebook. If Ricoh can eventually add Google+ support, it’ll be golden.

For the photo enthusiast with a little money to burn, you can find the Ricoh Theta at Amazon for about $400.

Chris Chavez
I've been obsessed with consumer technology for about as long as I can remember, be it video games, photography, or mobile devices. If you can plug it in, I have to own it. Preparing for the day when Android finally becomes self-aware and I get to welcome our new robot overlords.

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  1. I think $400 is a bit much, but looking at the picture, the guy does have a good concept. Improve the quality a little and some photographers might grab it.

    1. Yeah, $100 and I’d get it instantly. $200, and I’d still consider it. $300 is pricey, and $400 is kinda like…. why? :/

  2. Who’s the black chic in the pic?

  3. This is a great idea. Just need to bump up the MP, make it fully compatible with Android, knock down the price to ~$250 (my buying point), and I’d snatch up two of these things

  4. 8000x4000px like min. resulting texture output – and it will be a bomb … but certainly not a software resize .. native output… I think that the sensor must be at least – 12mpx in future

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