Via's 360-degree VR cameras ship for under $100

Via's 360-degree cameras can plug into smartphones or can be operated via Wi-Fi

Via Technologies is now shipping new 360-degree cameras for under US$100, making it more affordable for users to capture and play virtual reality content in headsets.

The cameras -- called Vpai by Via -- are being touted as being "720-degree" as they capture everything within view horizontally and vertically. But effectively, the Via cameras capture images at an angle of 360 degrees.

Some 360-degree cameras like Kodak's PixPro SP360 or LG 360 Cam can achieve the angle but not the full scope of Vpai. Most 360 degree cameras are also priced well over $100.

The Via Chiptrip, ForFun, and Eken Pano cameras are available through Chinese online retail sites and ship worldwide. Details on the cameras are available on the Vpai website.

The cameras record high-definition video via dual fisheye lenses, which are key to grabbing 360-degree video. The cameras can be operated via a mobile phone app. 

Some of the new cameras have USB Type-C ports and can plug directly into smartphones, which can then be turned into 360-degree cameras. Other cameras have Wi-Fi connectivity.

The new cameras include the Chiptrip V71, which is capable of up to 40 minutes of recording. The Chiptrip V72 can record up to 70 minutes of video. The Chiptrip V73 is superthin and plugs directly into the USB Type-C port of a mobile device, but it doesn't have Wi-Fi.

The other cameras include Eken Pano I, which plugs directly into the USB-C port of an Android smartphone to capture video.

The ForFun V1 is a small "point-and-shoot" camera with a small OLED to view captured images. It also has a Micro-SD slot and connects to mobile phones via Wi-Fi or micro-USB 2.0. The more feature-packed ForFun VV720 offers longer battery life of up to 40 minutes and also includes a mini-tripod. The ForFun VV750 supports USB Type-C ports.

It's a bit surprising that Via has come out with a consumer device, considering the company makes x86 and ARM chips and developer boards. The company also owns a lot of graphics intellectual property and has used its on-chip video compression engine so full HD video quality is delivered on devices without post-processing or upconverting.

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