Alcatel 360 camera hands-on: an affordable shooter for VR enthusiasts


Virtual reality is still a relatively new niche, which manufacturers are not afraid to jump in and explore, in hopes that it might be the next big thing on the market. After almost everybody came out with a VR headset of their own, and plenty of 3rd party developers are selling Google Cardboard-type headsets for dirt-cheap, it was time for the next step. Samsung and LG both upped the ante this year, when they released their mass-production 360 cameras — the Samsung Gear 360 and LG 360 Cam. But those are not what one might call accessible, courtesy of their respective price-tags of $350 and $200.

In comes Alcatel — a manufacturer known for its strides to deliver satisfactory mobile equipment at affordable prices. At IFA 2016, the company unveiled its own take on the 360-degree camera, predictably named Alcatel 360.

The gizmo comes in two variants — a square-shaped flat one, and a spherical one. Both have 210-degree fisheye lens-equipped cameras on both sides, and both are small, light, and easy to carry around. The square model is more pocket-friendly, for sure, while the spherical one is vaguely described as "maximizing 360-degree shooting".

Since the Alcatel 360 aims to be on the cheap side, it doesn't have its own battery or storage slot to save footage on. Connection to a smartphone is done directly via a microUSB dongle, sticking out of the camera. Alternatively, you can connect the shooter to its own stand, and then link the stand to your phone via a standard USB cable.

It works with its own app, which needs to be installed on the smartphone, and, for now, Alcatel is advertising it as strictly working on the Idol 4, Idol 4s, and Pop 4s, and this will be true for the early life of the gizmo. However, the company is working on expanding compatibility to other Android devices.

The build quality definitely feels like it's lacking a bit, but we can forgive this, seeing as what Alcatel is looking to accomplish with the 360 camera. Its price isn't official yet, but representatives said it would cost somewhere around €100 on release, which translates to about $111. Bear in mind, that's not final as of yet.

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