There's little denying that the new Gear 360 is a lot of fun: it produces footage that is difficult or impossible to reproduce with conventional camera hardware, makes sharing that footage with friends easy, and is hugely more convenient to carry around and operate than the first-gen Gear 360.
Samsung also delivers improvements in terms of functionality with live-stream support, as well as powering the camera, by way of the now-external USB port. That said, the 2017 Gear 360 feels more like a new shell around the original device than a fully-baked next-gen product. For as much satisfaction as we got out of using the hardware, we still found ourselves wondering about the possibilities of higher-fidelity imagery, less restrictive compatibility with non-Samsung Android devices, and the kind of thorough ruggedization and waterproofing that would elevate the Gear 360 to full action-cam status.
But just because we're dreaming of a slightly different product doesn't mean that this one is bad, and especially if you're a heavy Samsung user and didn't manage to pick up the original Gear 360, this new camera can be incredibly appealing.
Ultimately, though, it's going to come down to pricing. Let's face it: few of us really need a camera like this, and it's hard to shake the feeling of it being a kind-of gimmicky extravagance. Luckily, it's a very fun one, but an affordable price can go a long way towards convincing shoppers to drop some coin on such a device. Last year, the first Gear 360 was seriously on the expensive side, launching at around $350.
With a new, smaller build, as well as lower-res cameras, will this new version arrive at just a fraction of that price? That's a very good question, and one we don't have the answer for just yet. We're also curious to get a final look at the latest Gear 360 software, having run an early version that supports this new hardware.
But as we wait to learn the rest of those details, we're still pretty darn enthusiastic about what Samsung's managed to put together here. 360-degree filming may still be far from mainstream, but the new Gear 360 sure feels like a definite step in the right direction.