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Last year at CES 2016, virtual reality had a substantial presence on the show floor. Judging from our experience this year, it’s obvious that the industry has grown immensely and there aren’t many signs of that slowing down. While we’ve seen countless devices for consuming VR content, there have been precious few devices for creating it. Even those devices that are equipped for creating VR content are often too complex and expensive to be considered realistic options for average VR users.

The nature of VR requires that video be captured in all directions simultaneously, which for a long time meant shooting with custom rigs housing six or more action cameras and then manually stitching that footage together for an interactive 360-degree experience. The Kodak Orbit360, along with recent releases like the Ricoh Theta and the Nikon KeyMission, dramatically simplify that process with the aim of giving average users the power to create interactive videos of their own.

The Orbit360 is essentially two cameras housed within the same body and facing opposite directions. Each lens is wide enough that the footage from each camera overlaps and is automatically stitched into a seamless 360-degree video. That video can then be uploaded as-is to social media sites like YouTube.

While there are already other fairly simple options out there, the Orbit360 is one of the first to feature 4K shooting. At such a high resolution, your footage will be all the more immersive.

The Orbit also features Wi-Fi, NFC and Bluetooth for controlling your camera and transferring files. Those features work in tandem with PIXPRO mobile apps for Apple and Android devices. There’s also an optional armband if you’d rather have a dedicated device for controlling your camera remotely.

One of the coolest and most unique features of the Orbit has to be its lenses. On most other dual-lens cameras of this type, the lenses are identical. Each lens covers half of the area and then the footage from each is stitched together.

The Orbit, on the other hand, features a 155-degree and a 235-degree lens. As you can see, the second lens covers the lion's share of the area. This means that footage shot with the first lens will look less distorted. And so users can use the first lens to capture the most important aspect of the video, like facing it forward on a bicycle for example. And since you can also capture footage with one lens at a time, it makes sense that one would be more specialized in that way.

We think the Orbit360 is an important step forward for consumer VR content creation. It doesn’t necessarily represent any massive breakthroughs, but it exhibits some real improvements in image quality, sharing and design. So far we have yet to see anything do better at the $500 price point.

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