Yi 360 VR has officially launched in the US at $399. A Yi representative previously said the price would be $499 and that was the price shown on Yi’s store on Aliexpress, but the actual launch price in the US is $399.
The other thing that’s now been confirmed is that there is no built-in image stabilization, despite lingering rumors to the contrary.
Nonetheless, the Yi 360 VR costs a few hundred dollars less than other 5K+ 360 cameras — namely the Garmin Virb 360 and the soon-to-be-released GoPro Fusion. With the price difference, you’ll be able to buy a 360 gimbal such as a Guru 360 gimbal, or a Feiyu G360, and you may be able to use the gimbal with your other cameras. Moreover, a gimbal has better stability without blur, compared to built-in stabilization.
As for image quality, I found in my testing that the Yi 360 VR had the best video quality among consumer 360 cameras up to around $1,000. If you haven’t yet, please check out the specifications, features, and my review. Here is a sample 5.7K video (and in case you didn’t know, YouTube already enabled smooth playback for 5.7K and 8K a month ago):
As always, you don’t have to take my word for it. You can instead see for yourself using the 360 Camera Comparison page. I found that it was more detailed than the Theta V and had much less purple fringing and flare. Compared to the Garmin Virb 360, I thought the Yi 360 VR had about the same detail, but better stitching (when stitched on a desktop), less flare, and slightly better shadow range.
The big unknown for image quality is how it performs against the GoPro Fusion. So far, beta testers of the Fusion have been very impressed with its image quality but as far as I know, no one has compared the Fusion and Yi 360 VR directly yet. I do have the Fusion on order and it’s supposed to ship by November 24. As soon as I receive it, I will definitely compare them both.
In the meantime, if you want to order the Yi 360 VR, it’s available for order from B&H Photo (but B&H is not yet showing it in stock).