Ricoh’s new Theta V 360 camera offers 4K, spatial audio and more

Ricoh has revealed a brand new version of its Theta 360-degree camera: The Theta V, which upgrades the video capture quality to 4K resolution, adds live streaming support, and immersive “surround” sound audio recording. It takes over as the flagship Ricoh 360 camera, adding some much-appreciated modernized touches to one of the oldest and best-loved lines of consumer 360 cameras around.

The Ricoh Theta V also has a new high-speed wireless radio for faster data transfer, boosting it up to 2.5 times faster vs. the existing version. It also includes improved exposure and white balance accuracy, and boosted dynamic range, which Ricoh says should result in far better image quality in all lighting situations. The improved imaging tech was borrowed from the Pentax line of DSLRs, the company says.

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It can capture 14 megapixel stills in addition to the 4K video, and comes with a built-in 19GB of flash storage, which can keep up to 4,800 static images or around 40 minutes of 4K video, which is recorded in a format using the H.264 video codec. You can connect to the Theta V from your smartphone using the companion app, either via Bluetooth LE for remote control, or via Wi-Fi for when you also want to transfer over photos and videos to your phone.

Another new feature unique to the Theta V is software plug-in support, which means Ricoh can add features to the camera over time. The first feature to take advantage of the plug-in system is a remote playback function, which allows mirrored playback from the camera directly to compatible connected TVs and other smart streaming devices.

Spacial audio capture is also a pretty cool thing to add directly in the camera itself, which isn’t found on many of the Theta V’s more modern competitors. It’s something we need to test before rendering a verdict on, but it could be great for VR viewing in particular.

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Ricoh will also sell a separate mic add-on for $269.99 that captures 3D audio, presumably at higher quality, and there’s an underwater housing which will also ship separately and provide protection up to 100 feet (30 m) deep.

The Ricoh Theta V will sell for $429.95, and goes on sale at Ricoh’s website and the usual suspects today. The microphone is also on sale now, and the underwater housing is going to ship in October and retail for $199.95.

Ricoh’s competition has improved a lot since the original Theta was introduced in 2013; the Insta360 One, which launched earlier this week, is a prime example of how far we’ve come. But the Theta V sounds solid, and Ricoh has one of the best track records around when it comes to consumer 360 cameras, so this should be a strong contender once it ships.