72 Hours With the 360fly Action Camera

It's as small as a racquetball, captures video in 360 degrees, and can fit on a helmet. On paper, the 360fly is the ultimate action camera. That's why we put it to the test, spending 72 hours biking and surfing to see just how well it performs.

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Day 1: Out of the box, the 360fly looks like a sleek geodesic dome that can fit in the palm of your hand. Setting it up and charging is simple. A single button controls power and recording, and one single LED glows red when it's capturing the moment. The water-resistant unit works with most standard mounts and any GoPro accessories. You can also use the included adhesive mount. We easily attached the camera to our road bike with a standard mount to record parts of our two-hour ride. The camera helpfully divides videos into 10-minute segments, which save to the camera and can be moved to your phone or computer.  

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Adding our video to the app's library proved easy on our laptop. The app stores your videos in the "Movies" directory on your hard drive. When watching the video, you can swipe left and right, and up and down, to see everything else the camera recorded. The manufacturer says you can use Adobe Premiere and Final Cut Pro to edit video, and then you can export it and play it back in all its 360 glory on the site's player. The 360fly's wide-angle lens attracts fingerprints, but it's nothing a soft cloth can't resolve. The lens also grabs buckets of light, and its video resolution (1504 at 29.97 frames per second) is better than an iPhone 5 (1080 at 30 fps). However, it lags behind the GoPro Hero5 (4K at 30 fps). All the same, we could clearly see our friends and the passing scenery on the replay.

Day 2: For our next adventure, we took the camera mountain biking and fastened it to our helmet. At the end of the day, we used the phone app to check out the footage. The camera can pair with your phone via Bluetooth and WiFi. You can scan through longer clips, identify the cool parts, then skip to those sections on the app. The app offers three editing modes — Clip Capture, Watch Me, and Still Capture. We chose the Clip Capture feature, which creates a 360-degree view clip which can be viewed through the 360fly player. The interface is easy to use, but we did find the video stuttered during playback. 

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Day 3:
On our final day, we tested the camera in the water. Though it didn't pick up the rich colors of our sunset session, it still easily handled the low-light conditions at dusk. Overall, the best-quality footage came in the morning and evening hours. To edit our surf footage, we opted for the Watch Me function. We then were able to swipe to shift perspective, showing the wave ahead of us, then the cliffs behind us. On playback, the saved video showed some pixellation, but it didn't drag too much. We replayed some other clips, and when we tilted the screen, the footage followed our lead. This feature gives the 360fly app a virtual reality feel, and the manufacturer sells a set of goggles to enhance this effect. The bottom line: The software version we tested still has some bugs to work out, and the phone app crashed several times. The manufacturer says software updates are coming soon. And while we wouldn't give up our other action cameras just yet, it won't be long before we want to see the full picture.

The 360fly is available at Best Buy for $400.