Garmin's 360-degree camera has nice tech, awful battery

Photos and videos from 360-degree cameras can make viewing experiences more immersive than a panorama from your phone’s camera.

The Garmin VIRB 360 is expensive at $1099, but there’s a lot of technology and features packed into this tiny device. There’s image stabilisation; and there are sensors including an accelerometer, gyroscope, compass, and GPS.

How the images are stitched (the process of combining multiple photos seamlessly into one) is an important consideration with 360-degree cameras. There are editing packages, but the VIRB does a nice stitching job in-camera with minimal distortion.

The VIRB is matte black with two lenses either side. It is solidly built and weighs only 160gm . It’s pegged as a rugged action camera with a waterproof rating to a depth of 10 metres . It survived a test under the jet stream on the hose in my backyard.

Using the device is not intuitive. There are buttons with dual functions, so there’s a bit of mucking around to figure it out, but there are clear video tutorials on the Garmin website.

Unfortunately, there’s less than an hour of battery life.

Voice activation to take a photo or to start and stop filming is a great idea, much better than fussing over buttons when you’re on a bike or skiing. This is one of the easiest and most responsive voice controlled devices I’ve used. I didn’t even have to put on a fake American accent to make it work.

Another great feature is the chunky video-mode slider button that instantly turns on the camera and starts doing its job.

There’s a free Garmin app (for Apple and Android) to see and edit your photos and videos. Annoyingly, once the camera is turned off, you can’t use it.

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