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Lifewire / Andy Zahn
Amazing image stabilization
Easy 360 footage editing software
Connection issues with app
Editing footage is time-consuming
Not great in low light
Image quality was disappointing
Microphone could be better
With outstanding image stabilization, waterproof construction, and pocketable size, the Insta360 One X2 is perfect for capturing fun moments without having to worry about where the camera is pointing.
We purchased the Insta360 One X2 so our reviewer could put it to the test. Keep reading for the full product review.
Traditionally, action cameras only capture a tiny window into the world. However, the Insta360 One X2 is one of a new breed of cameras that aim to uphold this age-old truth by capturing absolutely everything around them in a single spherical image. This opens up a wealth of opportunities from nifty editing tricks to easily capturing VR experiences.
The Insta360 One X2 is a solid, chunky little rectangle. It’s compact enough to fit in a large pocket and feels quite rugged and durable, though those bulbous glass lens elements mean you’ll still want to be a little careful with it. Fortunately, it comes with a sleek neoprene case that offers a reassuring extra level of protection when you just want to carry the camera in your pocket.
The One X2 is fully waterproof down to 33 feet, which is a big improvement over its more sensitive predecessor.
Insta360 also includes a microfiber cloth, which is certainly useful, given the tendency for those lenses to attract smudges and dust. You also get a USB-C cable for charging, though a charging brick isn’t included.
The One X2 is fully waterproof down to 33 feet, which is a big improvement over its more sensitive predecessor. In order to accomplish this waterproofing, the battery compartment and USB port feature locking sealed doors. The locking mechanisms were a little tricky to open and close, but that’s a worthy trade-off for waterproofing. The battery doubles as the door to the battery compartment, and the microSD card slot is located within that compartment.
Controls consist of a shutter button, power button, and circular touchscreen. An LED light indicates the camera's status, and there is a standard tripod mount on the underside of the camera.
The One X2 came partially charged and ready to go once I inserted a microSD card, though first I had to install the Insta360 app on my phone and activate the camera. This turned out to be a bit of a pain, with the Bluetooth connection used to activate the One X2 and set up the Wi-Fi connection repeatedly timing out and failing. Eventually, I got it up and running, and aside from the one hiccup, the process was fairly smooth, if more complex than I’d typically expect from a camera.
My initial impressions of the Insta360 One X2 were tinted by the weather conditions in which I initially tested it. Here in Western Washington, winter can be gloomy and dark, so I ended up shooting in fairly dim conditions much of the time. As a result, I couldn’t help be shocked by how poor the video looked when I went to edit it. However, when given plenty of light to work with, the One X2 produced fairly decent-looking photos and video.
You really don’t have to worry about getting a stable shot even when walking or running on rough ground.
What’s really impressive is the degree of image stabilization that’s possible in this camera. It’s good enough that you really don’t have to worry about getting a stable shot even when walking or running on rough ground. With this in mind, you have to consider the Insta360 from a perspective of the intended purpose. Action cameras have always been action-focused, and this is even more true of 360 action cameras. Basically, you need to do something interesting that justifies the trade-offs.
One thing to remember about the One X2 is that its 5.7K recording resolution isn’t as sharp and detailed as you might expect, and when you crop down to a standard 16:9 frame you end up with 1080p. That’s good enough for viewing on a phone or small tablet, but the low resolution, as well as noise and image artifacts, become pretty significant when viewed on a large computer monitor.
The audio recording on the One X2 could be charitably described as mediocre. It’s there, and it’s useable, but in a camera that would otherwise be well suited to vlogging, given its portable size and ease of use, it's a little disappointing.
Though it may be the bare minimum for decent 360 footage, the 5.7L video footage the One X2 captures is still highly demanding in how much storage space it requires. A single short video clip easily takes up hundreds of megabytes of space, so you’ll want a big microSD card and plenty of hard drive space on your PC and/or smartphone.
Most of my problems with the One X2 have to do with the Insta360 app, and the big one is with the difficulty of connecting to the camera. Every time I connected to the One X2, I had to tap the connect button in the app over and over again until it finally connected.
Once it's connected, the app is rather cleverly designed with a basic but well-conceived, remote viewing and control interface and a brilliant editing suite for processing 360 videos. From framing your shot and changing playback speed to creating camera movements using keyframes, it’s an effective and highly intuitive tool that allows you to quickly and easily process your videos on the go.
The software on the One X2 itself is quite basic, but considering the small size of its circular touchscreen, this is understandable.
The app also includes a fully functional social media platform where you can share your work and interact with other creators. Really, there’s a lot bundled into the Insta360 app, and fortunately, every aspect of the app includes extensive tutorials, though the text in some of these tutorials has not been translated into English.
The software on the One X2 itself is quite basic, but considering the small size of its circular touchscreen, this is understandable. However, as a result of the lack of accessible settings in the camera, I ended up frequently going back into the app on my phone to tweak things in the camera. This made the connection issues I experienced all the more annoying.
It’s also possible to take more control of your video editing on the computer via either Insta360's free editing studio software or via a plugin in Adobe Premiere. However, it was easier to get the shots I wanted by editing them on my phone via the app.
A number of accessories are available for the Insta360 One X2. These include, among others, a diving enclosure and a “bullet time” attachment used to twirl the One X2 around your head. It’s also a good idea to have a selfie stick to use with the One X2, and I found a tripod handy for recording timelapse videos.
With an MSRP of $430, the One X2 is only a little more expensive than a high-end action camera, but it’s not bad for a 360 camera. It’s a good value if being able to shoot 360-degree video is a necessity for you.
You may well be trying to decide between a 360 camera and a traditional action camera, in which case the obvious choice to match against the Insta360 One X2 is the GoPro HERO9 Black. On the surface, the GoPro looks like the obvious choice for far better image and audio quality with better durability at a lower price point. However, if what you want is to record special moments in your life without having to even think about the camera, then you should go with the One X2.
Despite its flaws, the Insta360 One X2 offers easy 360-degree recording in a waterproof package.
I had something of a rough start with the Insta360 One X2, but after dealing with setup issues and a steep learning curve, its small size, lightweight, and ease of use made up for its flaws It’s ideal for capturing videos in circumstances where you can’t be bothered to film with a traditional camera.
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