I have always been a big fan of Acer products; they make great laptops, monitors as well as the excellent Windows Mixed Reality Headset. They also like to dabble with other products and the most exciting product they have launched recently is the Acer Holo360, which is a 360-degree camera that is built around Android and the Snapdragon 625 SoC.

Priced at £299 it joins a growing trend of cameras focussed on 360-degree images and videos. Many of the options are add-ons to your phone that require you to plug it in via the USB/lightning port. A large number of the dedicated devices have no screen which then needs pairing with your phone or syncing with your PC before you can preview or edit the shots.

The Acer differs from the other options and is an all in one solution that is basically a 360-camera built around an Android smartphone.

The Holo360 runs on Android 7.1, includes a SIM card slot, has full WiFi and Android app compatibility, this gives it an extensive array of features that may not be available with competing products.

The full specification includes:

  • OS – Android 7.1
  • SoC – Qualcomm Snapdragon 625
  • Display – 3-inch, 640 x 480
  • Cameras – Two 16MP Panomorph camera lenses; 6.9K still images, 4K video; MP4 Format (H.265) f/2.1
  • Networking – Bluetooth 4.1 + LE, 802.11ac, 3G/4G via SIM
  • Battery – 2000 mAh
  • USB – USB Micro-B
  • Dimensions – 5.8 x 11.0 x 1.4 cm
  • Weight – 139 g with battery

With its 3-inch display, this is considerably smaller than your normal phone but quite a bit thicker. The dimensions are more akin to a point and shoot camera, with it being around the same length as my Panasonic TZ60 but lightly less tall, and a little thinner. This makes it great for sliding into your pocket without adding too much bulk. Its petite size combined with Android does have some issues which I will cover later. Unlike my Panasonic, there is no camera mount point, which is not something I immediately thought I needed, but quickly learned it would have been handy.

The display is touchscreen just as you would expect with a phone and the low resolution is not too much of an issue on a screen this size, I was able to type in my login details during setup fine, though I wouldn't want to type out a long email.

You get 4 hardware buttons which include 2 volume, a power and a capture image button. Then on the base of the phone is the microUSB and also a 3.5mm jack.

Set-up

If you have an Android phone, then you will be very familiar with the set-up process, this goes through the same settings as well as the ability to restore your cloud backup. This does mean the process is slower than setting up a regular point and shoot camera, but it easy and I was done within a few minutes. One of the options during the setup procedure is to use the camera in phone mode or camera mode. This option will customise the device to make it more camera orientated. In phone mode, it is just like a normal phone, and you have access to the Play store with all its apps.

You can also option download the Acer Live360 which will allow you to connect your main phone with the Holo360 and do live 360-degree streaming.

Interface and usability

The camera mode is heavily skinned to make it a bit more user-friendly with a limited number of apps shown on display. If you have set up an account and chosen to use a pin, you will need to unlock the camera each time you use it. This can become quite annoying, and if I didn’t have to send it back, I think I would reset it up with a new email address and leave it permanently unlocked.

It has several apps pre-installed, this includes things like Google mail so during use I was getting email notifications on my camera which may be useful for some people but I ended up stopping my emails account syncing with the device.

While Google mail was a bit annoying, having Google Photos on my camera is fantastic. I didn’t bother to use a sim card in the device, but whenever I had a WiFi connection the photos would automatically sync to my account.