Quick thoughts on the Insta360 Air
I got in the mail the new Insta360 Air- the small marble sized 360 camera that snaps onto your Android phone, and I wanted to share a few thoughts.
Before I say anything- can we take a moment to be impressed that they actually made a camera this small? Wow. This thing is tiny. (But there are compromises for the size….)
This review was supposed to be a video review. I made a 360 Video with the Insta360 talking about it. But there is a glitch in the software and I can’t actually get the video out of the Insta360 app. Doing anything requires you export and it never gets further than 1%….
First of all- the ability to do a live 360 transmission from anywhere is pretty great. I’ve been streaming from my phone to facebook on a 4g connection with no problem.
That said- the quality is generally pretty low. Unless you choose the 6mbps option on the streaming bandwidth it looks like video out of a feature phone 5 years ago. Still however: It’s pretty cool. My friends seemed stoked and so was I. The 6mbps gives you a marked quality increase but gobbles data up. So be prepared. Because as soon as you start streaming 360, it’s kind of all you want to do.
Technically, I feel like it’s not really fair to review the tech specs. The camera is the size of a marble and costs like $150. I think we have to be impressed enough as it is. Lots of chromatic fringing, pretty low resolution, security cam color, but to be honest, it does a better job than I expected.
Streaming to facebook was dead simple. Major props. I expected a headache to setup. Instead you just connect your account and tap to go live. Easy peasy.
I wish there was a way to check your stats a bit more while you are streaming. In particular I would want to know who was viewing me. As it is, you never know, and if no one comments, it’s like, do you guys hear me?
The software looks good and is relatively easy to use with lots of filters and funny consumer additions that make sense with a camera of this price range and target market. With the exception of the software not working to let me export my videos I recorded (kind of a big exception I know) The app seems nice.
Oddly the option to put your brand watermark at the bottom of the video is not supported in live streaming. Even though you personally see the watermark at the bottom, it’s not actually streaming. A disappointing omission because it’s quite a convenient feature.
Did I mention this thing is small? It’s crazy tiny, and in the long run I think I will probably lose it because its so small. They came up with an ingenious rubber holder which you pinch to open and protects the lens and plug when not in use. If I could improve it though, I would add maybe a plastic ball to totally close the device. As it is the usb port is protected at the bottom, but it’s still exposed to dirt and lint that might get into the jack if you carry it in your pocket. I would want maybe an extra layer of protection. Perhaps even a lanyard?
The one thing that does kind of bother me, but seems inevitable, is how it’s necessary to flip the phone over to use the camera.
The s6 isn’t made to really work regardless of angle, and using it upside down gets pretty uncomfortable the moment you need to unlock your phone, switch apps, etc… That said- I can’t see how it could be avoided without building a larger camera (Samsung Gear 360 2017?) so I guess I will just get used to it.
Basically- without owning a Samsung Gear 360 2017 model (which I plan to pick up as well) I’ve got to say- as a step towards a universal streaming 360 facebook future: The Insta is pretty awesome. It’s cheap. It’s the size of a marble. It snaps on your phone. It works.