The smallest 360° camera around, this easy to use smartphone accessory for Android 5.0 devices has novelty value in spades
Action cameras last about two hours. So do 360° cameras. The result? Constant and tiresome recharging when travelling. Cue the LyfieEye200, a tiny 15g gunmetal device that attaches to the USB-C or microUSB slot (adaptor included) in any Android 5.0 phone or tablet.
The unusual positioning on a phone limits the LyfieEye200 to being capable only of 360° selfies, surely? Not quite. Shipping with our review sample was a collection of accessories such as extenders, arms, swivel sticks and a desktop stand that allow the user of the LyfieEye200 some impressive versatility. But that’s not all. Now available on Indiegogo, the LyfieEye200 also has VR and AR capabilities. At least in theory.
Tested with a Google Pixel 2 and a Sony Xperia XZ, LyfieEye200 was so easy to use. You just download the free LyfieView200 app to any Android device, then insert the camera into the phone’s slot. Sadly the microUSB adaptor does make the camera stick out a bit too much. However, the instant the app is fired-up – and the phone is held upside down – a live feed is presented in either ‘3K’ resolution – 2880×1440 (at 30 frames per second) – or Full HD – 2160×1080 at 30fps). As well as spherical videos, spherical JPEGs can be taken in 2880×1440 pixels resolution (that’s about four megapixels), which is just about enough for sharing on Facebook or YouTube via the quick, if rather rudimentary app (it does, at least, allow cropping and edits, such as adding filters). The basic functions are stupidly easy to use, but the frame rate does leave things looking a little jumpy. It also takes a couple of seconds to save each 360 photo.
The LyfieEye200 can stream live video in 360°. The various supports, mounts and extenders that ship with it make 360° video calls possible. Is that a thing yet? Probably not, but the LyfieEye200 can do it. Though the multiple options are probably overkill for most, they’re well-made, and make hands-free use possible, which is unique for a snap-on 360° camera.
Although they weren’t available to download at the time of my review, LyfieEye200 will soon come with two special VR and AR apps, LyfieRoam and LyfieStroll. LyfieRoam creates static 360 experiences based on still images; you walk around an indoor or outdoor space and the app will shoot spherical photos automatically and build VR spaces of historical places. LyfieStroll lets you move around a park and add AR objects to the area to create fully immersive environments.
Tiny and ultraportable, the LyfieEye200 is easy to use and lends a creative dimension to travel photography within a package that’s all about experimenting with video … but without the worry over battery power. It’s Android-only, and is not a must-have gadget, but it’s great value for any traveller looking to capture the world in a new way.