Review: Jolt 360 DUO camera

The Jolt 360 Duo is a small, low-cost 360-degree camera. It’s not a bad bit of kit for the price (around $300), but the price is probably its stand-out feature – if you’re looking for an inexpensive 360-degree video camera this is it.

The Jolt Duo 360 camera is an interesting conundrum of a device. It fulfills a specific purpose, and it does that decently well, but there is so much more that could have been done with this sort of device which just wasn’t. 

Even though it is a 360 degree camera it has a decently good resolution at 1080p, which allows it to be used extremely effectively in small-scale environments. It’s not 4K, but then you’re not paying for that, and most people don’t need that yet.

Instead of a panorama that you might get from your phone, the Jolt has a full spherical view (except for a thin band around the top, sides and bottom), meaning that in the 360 viewer, you can see the full picture of everything around you, kind of like in Google street view. For a video that can be great, for a still photo you tend to lose too much detail and get a lot of extraneous stuff in there – and that might be where the lack of 4K hits a bit.

Yes, despite the fact that I put this in the pro section as well, it is also a hindrance to this camera. It is extremely hard to use for taking large photos. I took this on a holiday to Tanzania to test it out with wildlife photos, and we drove to a small pond with about 30 hippos in it. About 10m away from the pond, and you can still barely see that they are hippos! Night photos are also out. It can’t see stars, which led to me staying up late after a very long day in Africa, and then getting no results because it just saw an empty black sky where I saw a beautiful one dotted with bright points of light. For videos it’s mushy, but that might be OK in the context of action shots with lots going on.

Another apparent compromise is the lithium battery. It doesn’t say anywhere that the battery doesn’t like being charged, meaning that it is completely unexpected when you leave it charging for the day and it suddenly runs out of charge five minutes into using it. 

Finally, the software is annoying. I have encountered two major problems with it, but apart from that I just find it clunky and cumbersome to use. My first major problem is the connection dropouts. I got it connected and all set up at home at one point, only to go out to find it disconnected and the device completely unresponsive, with the screen on. So after that I had to let the battery run down, then recharge it and try again. My second major problem is the export system, which took me a couple minutes to export one image, and then it exported it upside down. Now there might be some user-error in there somewhere, but this is a pretty simple device and it shouldn’t take a software engineer to get it going.

Overall the Jolt Duo from Gigabyte is OK for the price if you want a 360-degree camera. I can’t say it blew my socks off, but if you want to try out 360-degree video this is a good entry point. If you want to get serious you’re going to be paying a lot more than the Jolt will set you back. Just be prepared to grit your teeth at some of the compromises along the way.

We looked all around us with a review unit from the lovely people at Expansys.

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