The GoPro series of cameras brought the action camera to the masses which in return brought POV (Point of View) action videos to everyone. Even couch potatoes can now almost experience the thrills and spills of action sports in comfort and safety without taking a single step outside their home. Now, passive thrill seekers can now take the next revolutionary step with the introduction of 360º action cameras like the Xiaomi Mi Sphere.
360º videos are fast gaining popularity because they are now supported by popular video sharing sites such as YouTube and Facebook. The wonder of 360º videos is that your POV is no longer restricted by where the camera is pointing at. You have unrestricted views by just panning around a computer screen, moving your mobile device around like a magical window to another world or the best way to watch a 360º video which is by using a VR headgear.
While there are many 360º video cameras out there, not all are built the same. For the best immersion experience, you need full 360º capture both vertically and horizontally. This means video is captured is a perfect sphere around the camera. Secondly, the video quality must be of sufficiently high quality. Your normal 108op or FHD resolution won’t cut it because you are only viewing a small portion of the entire video. You need to double or even quadruple that resolution.
Xiaomi is best known for products that feature state-of-the-art at affordable prices. Expectations were high when they announced that they were coming out with their own 360º action camera. We are glad that the new Xiaomi Mi Sphere did not disappoint.
Firstly, the Xiaomi Mi Sphere features two Sony 16MP cameras mounted back-to-back. This allows the camera to capture a true 360º view. Many cheaper cameras offer a single camera that captures 360º horizontally but only about 220º vertically. That means that a portion of the view is cut off, normally the bottom or the back depending on how the camera is positioned.
Combined, the video has a resolution of about 3.5K (3456 x 1728 at 30fps) which is about 3.5 times the resolution of 1080p. You can double the framerate to 60fps for fast action scenes and still get a resolution of 2304 x 1152. What this means is that you get very high quality video when viewing the video on a computer, mobile or VR device. You can also capture still images at an amazing 7K resolution.
Other impressive features of the Xiaomi Mi Sphere include a 6-axis image stabilization that really helps in cutting down the jitters in action clips. It is also dust and water resistant. This means that it can withstand most weather conditions but you can’t use it underwater. Xiaomi will probably release an waterproof casing for it later on.
While the Xiaomi Mi Sphere is targeted at the action sports community, that does not mean that is all it is good for. The camera is ideal for capturing all kinds of shots including a leisure, scenic boat ride during your next vacation. Imagine reliving your best holiday moments and even seeing it from a totally different angle.
Battery wise, it is powered by a 1600 mAh rechargeable battery that is rated to last about 75 minutes of continuous shooting. The camera has no display screen to preview what you are shooting but it connects to an Android/iOS device via WiFi and you can get a live preview via its app instead. If you switch off the WiFi when the camera is in use, you can get an additional 10-15 minutes of video shooting time.
Overall, the specifications and video quality that the Xiaomi Mi Sphere produces is very impressive. It usually retails around $300 but you can get it discounted to about $250 at online stores like Gearbest. It may not be the cheapest 360º action camera around by far but if you are really serious about capturing high quality VR video, this camera gives an exceptionally big bang for its buck.