There’s no screen to scope out the scene pre-shot, but you can hold the camera at any angle and it's still capable of taking a 360-degree photo.
The Theta weighs an ultra-light 95g and is small enough to slip into your pocket next to your smartphone. The textured surface makes it comfortable to grip when you are taking a picture as well.
Images can be stored on the 4GB internal memory giving you room for around 1,200 pictures. The Theta works with a Windows and Mac desktop application to store photos and update firmware. There’s also a free Ricoh Theta iPhone app and currently supports iPhone 4S and iPhone 5 running on iOS 6.0 or above. An Android app is on the way and is scheduled to be ready before the end of the year.
The iPhone app is a pretty simple setup. You can take images from within the app, view images in all their spherical glory and upload to Facebook, Twitter and Tumblr. Additionally there's also Microsoft Photosynth support to view and zoom around images from all angles.
In terms of battery life, Ricoh claims the built-in rechargeable Li-ion battery will last for around 200-250 pictures. We guess that would be enough to use for a trip abroad if you are not planning to only take 360 degree images on your holiday.
It captures 360 degree images far better than Photo Sphere currently manages and pinching and zooming around the image you can see there’s no reason to worry about the threading issues and disjointed effect the Android camera feature suffers from.
The image quality is not great however. The 5-megapixel quality shots it produces are on par with what you’d expect from a mid-to-low range smartphone. It’s fine for Facebook, Twitter and websites, but photos lack the kind of vibrancy and image sharpness we’d expect from a camera that costs more than £300.
Aside from the consumer angle it could well find a niche use for estate agent's looking to show of property or providing a better online view of hotels, restaurants and holiday homes.
If you really only want to shoot 360 images, the Theta does a fantastic job of capturing the entire scene. At more than £300 we are not sure the Theta offers great value for money.