When Ricoh introduced its first Theta camera in 2013, the very idea of a pocketable, relatively affordable device that could capture 360-degree images was new. Now, thanks to the Theta (and its archrival the Samsung Gear 360), the category has some traction–and VR headsets from Oculus and others provide an immersive way to view the photos and videos you shoot.
Ricoh’s new model, the $430 Theta V, has the same tall, skinny form factor as previous versions, but it’s a more ambitious tool in multiple ways–which is possible in part because it packs a smartphone-class Qualcomm Snapdragon chip and runs Android. It’s the first Theta to support 4K video, and captures spatial audio so that soundtracks as well as visuals have a 360-degree effect. According to Ricoh, it can transfer photos and videos over USB dramatically faster than its predecessors, but it’s also the first Theta to support wireless streaming, letting you view your creations via Miracast-compatible devices (such as Amazon’s Fire Stick) without moving them off the camera first.
Along with the the Theta V, Ricoh is introducing a couple of accessories, also with a professional-caliber feel. A $270 360-degree microphone, which plugs into the bottom of the camera, has four directional mikes for higher-quality audio recording. And a $200 waterproof case (compatible with all Thetas) permits the camera to capture pictures and movies underwater as well as on land.