Back in January, we made a trek to CES 2012 and brought you news of several new toys, gadgets, and gizmos. In episode #359, the focus was a little iPhone 4/4S camera lens that shoots 360-degree video: the Kogeto Dot.
When Cali covered the Kogeto Dot, she showed you a little, lime green case with a conical lens, told you of the 360-degree video capability, and teased a popular panoramic view of someone skiing. Kogeto sent us a review model (in Livid Lobster red!) and I took it home to figure out all the little details for you, including poking around the iPhone app and recording a short tour of the GeekBeat studio and Livid Lobster HQ!
What I love about the Kogeto Dot is the ease of use. In less than five minutes, I was playing around and recording video, which is exactly how it should be. The lens requires a specific app, Kogeto’s Looker App, to be downloaded before recording can begin – but have no worry: the app is free. Once the app is installed, launch Looker and clip on the lens; keep in mind that the lens is designed to fit snugly to the phone, so any case you have must be removed. After a quick calibration, set the record time and you’re done. That’s it.
Just before clicking that red record button, be sure to check the automatic record length and focus the screen. Video can be recorded in four preset time limits: 45 seconds, 90 seconds, 2 minutes, and 8 minutes; you can, of course, stop the recording short, but nothing can be recorded longer than 8 minutes, yet (Kogeto promises longer time options in the future). Focus by tapping the screen or let the iPhone automatically find something on which to focus. During recording, iPhone will automatically keep focus, however you can still tap the screen to change the focus. The downside to doing this is recording with the phone’s screen facing up, which means the lens is pointed to the ground, or you leave the lens facing up and you crane your neck to look at the screen. If you are comfortable with setting it and walking away, then this should not be a problem.
Video Quality, Editing, and Uploading
Aside from the focusing, the quality of the video isn’t bad. There is a bit of lens flare, though. For the most part, it’s not too noticeable unless you are surrounded by a ton of bright lights (like secretly recording a now lost review video shoot) or in bright sunshine. Be careful with the lens and be sure to keep it clean with a mirofiber cloth, a gentle rub with water, or a spritz of cleaning solution; any scratch, dirt, or fingerprints will affect the final video.
All video is stored on the iPhone, accessible through the Looker App’s “Share” screen. You can edit the video’s information, trim the ends, flip the video right-side up (if the lens was facing down during recording), and share the video by Facebook, Twitter, the Kogeto DotSpot webpage, or email. There is a ‘Save’ button that creates a panoramic video saved to the phone’s internal memory, accessible when plugging into the computer, which is how the video can be edited in Final Cut Pro (see the tutorial here).
From the DotSpot webpage, videos can be shared, marked as favorite (after you set up a free account and log in), and even embedded into another website. You can access all of your own videos from your DotSpot profile and can set your account to ‘unlisted’, which makes all of your videos automatically private. Each individual video allows you the option to change who can view and comment as well as whether the video will appear on Kogeto.com’s DotSpot page or be ‘embed only’.
Uses and Final Thoughts
From the mundane to the crazy, there are many ways to use the 360-degree video captured with the Kogeto Dot, some of which are hosted on the DotSpot webpage. There are music videos, vacation tours, and pet clips, and much more. For a homeowner looking to sell or rent out a house, a college student partying up spring break, or a thrill seeker sharing an adrenaline rush, the Kogeto Dot is a very affordable lens at just $49 (a nice price drop since January!). Even with the focus, lens flare, and time limits, the Dot is a great little accessory for the iPhone 4/4s. Other smartphone versions are in the works with a hopeful release in early 2013. And, yes, it comes in more than just Livid Lobster red (but why would you want black, pink, or green?).