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Need to shoot interactive 360-degree video with your iPhone? Probably not, but it is fun with the US$49 Kogeto Dot (http://www.kogeto.com). The device's iCONIC lens works with the iPhone 4's HD video camera to capture full 360 degree video --all at once -- without the need to "stitch" frames together.
You can share the videos (dubbed "dotspots") directly from the Kogeto Dot via Facebook or Twitter -- or you can store and share 'em at kogeto.com . However, the process of deleting dotspots from the Dot isn't obvious. Here's how: you go to "Share" in Looker and you can swipe left on the footage and a red button to "delete" the clip appears.
As with every camera hardware accessory for the iPhone, the Kogeto Dot requires that you remove any protective case. Then you can snap the Dot on and off your Apple smartphone. The lens is about an inch in height and 1.25 inches in diameter. It fits over the camera on the back of the iPhone and uses a thin plastic mount to stay in place. Once you're done filming your dotspots, you may want to take the Dot off as the iPhone won't slip into your jeans pocket with it on.
You'd have to remove your iPhone's case anyway to calibrate the Dot and ensure your lens is oriented around the correct view. You must do this before you start shooting your video because you can't recalibrate afterward.
Before you begin filming, download the free Looker app from the Apple App Store to calibrate. Open it and make sure to center the green donut around your lens view on the Kogeto Dot.You can pinch your fingers to make the donut bigger or smaller, as needed, and then "hug" it around your lens view.
Once you've calibrated, you can record. Touch the red button in the upper-right corner of Looker to start/stop recording. Or you can do this by pressing the volume up/down button on the side of the iPhone.
Your dotspots appear on your iPhone like any other video. To see the full 360, touch your finger to the screen and drag it left or right. Your video will move with your touch, and you can spin around in a full panoramic circle.
Choose Save for the video, plug the iPhone into your Mac, and the videos will import into iPhoto. On your Mac's screen, you can click the video and drag your mouse left or right to view the full video.
You can also watch your videos in flat-screen view to see the entire shot at once. To do this, just move the mouse down to the bottom edge of the video. A menu bar will pop up; press the long rectangle and the video will transition to flat screen view.
When using the Kogeto Dot, we occasionally found our videos to be out of focus. Sometimes your iPhone camera will focus on the wrong object, which makes for a blurry video. If you're having this problem, tap on your iPhone screen to bring the picture back into focus.
You should also record your videos with the phone screen facing up. This reduces the amount of light entering into the lens -- the phone camera sometimes wants to focus on this light. You can then use the "flip" function to turn your video right side up.
Filming with the phone screen facing up is awkward, though you get used to it. What's harder to do is train yourself to keep your fingertips out of the videos. You have to hold the iPhone flat in your palm to keep your fingers out of the shot.
The quality of the dotspots is good, if not great. You can check out a variety of 'em at http://www.kogeto.com/dotspots/DW625MH328KX?query=&page=1&hp=1&sort=feat... .
There is a learning curve to using the Dot, though you can be up and running in minutes. Hang in there, practice with it and you'll be able to record some different -- and intriguing -- vacation videos, sports films and more.
Rating: 7 out of 10