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Panoramic Pod
Score: 79%
Developer: thumbsUp!
Device Type: Accessory


Function:

With more and more smartphones boasting built-in panoramic cameras, it is no wonder that products are coming out to help make the "perfect" panoramic shot. The thumbsUp! Panoramic Pod provides a simple and elegant solution to making sure your phone moves at a constant rate; it more-or-less mounts your camera to an egg timer that rotates 240.

In the Panoramic Pod box, you don't just get the spring-based mechanism, but also a small tripod and a clip to attach your smartphone to the Pod. With these three pieces, you have pretty much everything you need to get a nice, steady shot of the world around you, if you can keep the phone steady in the clip, that is, but more on that later.

The tripod, Panoramic Pod and clip all mount to each other via the standard camera-sized mounting bolts, so you can even use these pieces with any existing camera equipment you might have. In other words, the clip can be attached directly to the mini-tripod or a full-sized one. In a similar way, the Panoramic Pod itself can be mounted to larger tripods. This also means that you can mount a larger camera to the Pod as well, but it is obvious that the timing mechanism is designed for lighter devices. As expected, something the size of my Nikon DSLR doesn't quite sit quite right.

I found the mini-tripod had a few nice extra features on it that were worth mentioning. Not only do the three legs have extenders that can add an extra 2 1/4 inches to the height, but the lockable pivoting mount means you can position your camera at just about any angle.


Performance:

The main feature the Panoramic Pod touts is the ability to let you take panoramic photos easily and perfectly every time. For the most part, the device succeeds, though it takes a bit of work getting everything all set up and right when it is time to take the picture.

On paper, everything seems like it should work well. You clip your phone onto the Pod, which is, in turn, mounted to the tripod. You turn on the device, tell your phone to start taking the pic and let it go. The Pod unwinds at a steady rate, so your smartphone is happy as it takes in the scene around it.

I found that the whole process typically went well, but there were a few times when the Panoramic Pod would stick or not quite go at a constant rate. These times were rare, and generally the results were still good (thanks primarily to the software on the smartphone), and if the image wasn't quite as good as I wanted, then it was just a matter of re-winding the Pod and clicking the shutter button again.


Features:
  • 240 Panning
  • No Batteries Required
  • Tripod Included

Drawbacks & Problems::

Unfortunately, the Panoramic Pod isn't perfect. There are a few issues that can make the device a little more trouble than it's worth.

While, in theory, setting up the shot and letting it go is as easy as what I described in the previous section, I found that, in practice, that wasn't always the case. Quite frankly, I generally found my hands awkwardly holding everything together until it was time to let it go and have it do its work. When it came time to take the picture, I felt that I had to pick up the setup, twist the Pod and carefully put it down while holding the Pod in its fully wound position. Letting it go and tapping the on-screen button to start the picture generally went well, but the slight tap would often lead to the phone tilting or sliding a little.

This problem is only compounded by the clip used to hold the smartphone to the Panoramic Pod. Given that the clip is designed like clothespins, it doesn't hold the phone as solidly as I would like. Even if the setup and launching of the panoramic shot goes off perfectly, I found that my iPhone could still slip in the clip and cause the image to skew. If the clip was designed more like a vice so that it snugged up to the smartphone across a larger area, then it would hold still better.

Apparently this was a known issue. When I reviewed the instructions to make sure everything was set up correctly, I saw that a recommended solution was to take some paper and put it in the clip with the phone in order to make the clamp a bit more stable.

While these couple of issues tend to sour the deal a bit, I still found the overall setup nice. The mini-tripod is steady and the Panoramic Pod itself behaves as advertised. With a better way to connect your smartphone to the rest of the setup, the Panoramic Pod could be the answer to your scenic picture dreams.


-J.R. Nip, GameVortex Communications
AKA Chris Meyer

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Game Vortex :: PSIllustrated