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GoPano micro for iPhone 4, 4S (Review)

Radford C. Feb 12, 2012 2
4 out of 5 Rating

Anyone dismissing the GoPano micro as some gimmicky tool does not understand the value of this system. The guys got a chance to see this at the CES Unveiled press event and told me about it. Victor (who’s the pro video guy in our crew) talked about the many use cases it could address in a variety of scenarios and I was intrigued. I used to be into autocrossing and road racing so using the 360 camera could be very useful for addressing tactics and spatial awareness after the race. I could see this being used in providing 360 views inside real estate or freezing a crime scene for law enforcement. Or, maybe, this thing is just plain fun to use.

After receiving the review unit from Go Pano directly we got a chance to put it through its paces. The packaging contents come with the iPhone case, a cone with a specially precision made mirror that attaches to the iPhone case, a carrying satchel and QR card to register your product.

Unboxing

Front of box

Rear of Box

Contents

The case itself is matte black and has a solid durable feel of the case and is not prone to fingerprints. What I really like is how it fits better than most cases designed for the iPhone 4 (4S). If you have a screen protector from PhoneDevil or Zagg, this case won’t interfere with it. Instead of framing the iPhone like most cases, the GoPano case hugs the silver edging of the iPhone making it more flush and seamless. The GoPano cone-shaped optic that is shaped like a periscope for your phone that is easy to snap into the case for quick use and looking at its construction I’m anticipating that it won’t wear down overtime. At least for the first few days of use, the GoPano optic was very secure to the case

Gallery 1 (Unboxing)

Go Pano iPhone with Registration Card with QR Code

Picture 1 of 14

GoPano App

Now, for the fun part – actually using this thing. When you use the GoPano optic on the camera without any app, it’ll look just like this:

Once you download GoPano from the AppStore (which is free), you’ll presented with 4 very straightforward choices:

And because we’re lazy, we went striaght to “Record My First Video” and we were presented with the calibration screen where you center in the contorted donut image in the center to accommodate the optic. At first I was a bit confused on what to do to calibrate it until I saw the black dot in the middle. In any case, I don’t anticipate anyone having problems calibrating this.

Once calibrated, you can swipe to look around your panoramic view to observe your surroundings. The beauty of recording in 360 is the ability to pan through your 360 panoramic at any point of the video. The GoPano’s 360 degree curved mirror gathers light from all directions and reflects it into the lens then uses the app to transform that donut warped image into an interactive scene. It’s a very powerful feeling you get when you’re using it. Part of me wants to attach my iPhone GoPano micro in between the passenger and driver seat of my Subaru and start gunning down the infamous Leguna Seca corkscrew. Once I’m done recording, I can look back at the video and track each car I’m passing by (or vice versa) by just swiping around the panoramic to continue tracking whatever was around at the time.

Fortunately, the ability to watch GoPano videos are not limited to those who have access to an iPhone and the app. GoPano’s site (GoPano.com) serves almost like a YouTube for 360 videos. Signing up takes 5 seconds and you can browse and upload without even confirming your email. Even better, the videos allow you to pan through the video with just your mouse alone just as if you’re toying around with the videos on the GoPano iPhone app.

Within the GoPano app, sharing the 360 video is also a few taps to Twitter, Facebook, Dropbox and iTunes via iTunes File Sharing. Naturally, sharing videos with other GoPano members and to your own Camera Roll is included. You can check out some sample videos here. Each of those videos can be embedded as well.

Once you start recording a collection of videos, browsing and labeling them works like a breeze. Additionally, GoPano settings allow you to use motion controls, make use of cellular data when no Wifi is available and explicitly disable sharing to Facebook and Dropbox just in case you’re a little weary over your somewhat incriminating videos being shared in 360 degrees.

The image quality and focus will be dependent on which version of the iPhone you have. On the iPhone 4, the focus is a little bit on the finicky side. On the iPhone 4S, focus is alot better which is mostly attributed to the lens quality of the handheld. The panoramic images that are generated from the optic and app may seem more warped at times but the app also allows a panoramic strip view to help line up your shot horizontally.

GoPano Screenshots

Go Pano Sharing Mechanism

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If you’re expecting to use the GoPano micro at a commercial or semi-pro level, forget it. Reading the bindings off books in a library won’t cut it. But if you plan to show off an experience of sitting inside a Ferrari, walking through a mansion or through the city roads of San Francisco the GoPano works beautifully. The whole point of the GoPano micro is to allow iPhone 4/4S owners to share the overall spatial feel of an experience that can’t be conveyed with conventional video. So, here’s the ultimate question. Is this worth $79? That will depend on you. Do you travel often? Do you enjoy browsing through GoPano’s collection of 360 videos? Then you belong to this group and $79 won’t sound as expensive.

If you’re a real estate agent or an investigator that needs to freeze a crime scene, this could possibly be another use for it but that will also depend on whether the quality and sharpness of the video is more than good enough. Personally, I think the GoPano micro is a steal at $79 since there are so many applications for 360 degree panoramic video. It’s a good reliable and portable system for someone that doesn’t want to lug the full GoPano 360 experience and has to transcode vids on their computer. It’s also a ton of fun to use.

Buy one here from BiteMyApple.co

Rating: ★★★★☆