Imaging equipment manufacturer YI took to the latest iteration of the Consumer Electronics Show to unveil its new offering made in collaboration with Google – the YI Horizon VR180 camera. Additionally, the company also came to Las Vegas to once again showcase the YI Halo, a full-fledged camera rig designed for professional 360-degree filmmaking.
As consumer electronics were still the focus of the annual trade show, so was the Horizon VR180 most prominently featured at YI's CES booth over the course of this week, being advertised as the ultimate solution for creating videos made in accordance with Google's VR180 standard introduced in mid-2017. Much like other non-traditional camera makers that arrived at this year's fair, the Chinese company was describing its offering as the future of point-and-shoot imaging; the Horizon VR180 is as straightforward to use as possible, regardless of whether you want to take a photo, record a video, or start a live stream – just press a button and you're good to go. It also automatically delivers content suitable for viewing with a combination of a compatible virtual reality headset and YouTube or Google Photos. As its name implies, the Horizon VR180 doesn't deliver full-fledged VR content but is still more than capable of producing immersive panoramas and panning shots that allow one to adjust their viewing angle while experiencing whatever content the camera managed to capture.
Needless to say, 5.7K videos at 30 frames per second look excellent and are even more impressive when you consider they've been produced by something that can easily fit in a pants pocket. That portable form factor combined with robust yet highly automated filmmaking capabilities are the main selling point of the Horizon VR180, though it remains to be seen how much YI ends up asking for a device with such a no-compromise design. Most of the company's cameras retail for approximately $200 and YI also offers a number of entry-level models that often go on sale for well under $100, yet every aspect of the Horizon VR180 suggests a much more premium price tag. While price isn't the most crucial aspect of any new technology that's aimed at enthusiasts who are prepared to spend much more than they need anyway, Google and its partners are already trying to push VR filmmaking into the mainstream, so the cost of the Horizon VR180 is something that YI will definitely want to carefully consider. That's presumably why the company has yet to provide any pricing details on its latest camera despite the fact that the product is meant to be released just a few months from now, sometime in the second quarter of the year.
The YI Halo is a different beast altogether and one that comes with 17 lenses situated all around its massive case. The camera was originally launched last April and is already in use by some filmmakers, though the Chinese firm isn't providing any details on its commercial performance. Still, with a price tag of $17,000, it's safe to say no one save for well-funded studios has been experimenting with the YI Halo in the last nine months.
YI VR180 Camera
YI Halo Camera