Kogeto Dot Review: 360 iPhone LensThe Kogeto Dot by itself is a curious looking iPhone add-on. Designed to attach almost like a protective case, the Dot’s bulbous orb allows users to capture video in a single 360-degree panoramic shot. It’s basically like Google’s Street View, but for videos.

What is the What?

Using the Dot is simple. Snap it onto the back of your iPhone 4/4S, download the Looker app, and you’re ready to record. It doesn’t add much weight when it’s attached, so it’s easy to carry. In addition, it doesn’t hinder average use — texting, phone calls, browsing — so you can leave it on between recordings.

kogeto-dot-001Who Might Buy It?

Honestly, the Dot’s target demographic is nearly limitless. Taking this to concerts immediately comes to mind. It would also be a fantastic tool during interviews. Really, any environment that you find interesting would make an excellent stage for the Dot to record.

Say you’re touring the Colosseum in Rome: Instead of whirling in dizzying circles, capture the amphitheater’s full grandeur by simply holding the Dot above your head and letting the super fish-eye lens do the work for you.

What’s Good

It records the world around you without much legwork from the user. For social extroverts, Kogeto’s Looker app gives users the option to share with friends on Facebook, Twitter, Kogeto’s own website and through email. In addition, Looker comes with “Dotspot Options” to trim, flip and save video. You can also attach a title and description to your creations (by default videos are titled with the date and time).

kogeto-dot-010What’s Bad

Kogeto’s Looker app is required. Otherwise, videos are so warped they’re unwatchable (as expected). Also: Don’t even think about taking pictures with this thing on, because you’ll just get an extremely skewed perspective. The inability to snap photos is perhaps its biggest downfall, but of course it wasn’t designed for this purpose. Still, if there’s a moment you’d rather capture in a picture, you’ll have to pop the Dot off first.

The Looker app itself isn’t much. There are very few tweaking options as I mentioned, but that’s about it. There’s a Featured tab that lets you see other users’s videos, but even that is very rudimentary.

In addition, the videos themselves, while cool, weren’t the best quality. I understand that in order for this to work — processing, etc. — some degradation will take place, but the Dot pretty much turns what is otherwise a decent camera on the iPhone into somewhere above VHS. The lens cover itself is a thick plastic that can easily get scuffed, and that kind of wear-and-tear doesn’t exactly translate well in videos.

Does it Belong in the Herd?

It’s cool in concept, but the novelty wears off pretty quick, especially for $50. While watching the videos I shot, I oftentimes forgot about the Dot’s main feature, which is to record (and watch) a 360-degree panoramic shot. Some users might find it especially useful for events, but for capturing average material, like a simple day at the beach, you’re better served to stick with using your iPhone without this attachment so you won’t get degraded quality. It’s not that the Dot is particularly bad; it’s just not something I can see people using on a regular basis.

[Kogeto Dot]