As a first in the series, RICOH THETA X is equipped with a large 2.25-inch touchscreen. The design has also undergone a major overhaul in terms of functionality and operability.
Along with other members of the THETA X development project, the original product designer who has been in charge of THETA from the first model also worked on the design for THETA X. Here are some of the considerations that led to the creation of the new THETA X design.
THETA X and Mr. Kawa, the product designer of THETA X
The THETA X Design Concept
THETA X was planned as an advanced model in the THETA lineup consisting also of THETA Z1 and THETA SC2, combining more user-friendliness and advanced operability. It is the first in the series to be equipped with a large touchscreen, resulting in a significantly different design as compared with the previous models.
Therefore, from the beginning of development, we repeatedly discussed the overall design, including the buttons and the lens.
THETA X, early development mockup (center)
The design of THETA X was based on THETA’s product concept, quick and easy to use, while also including more user-friendly operability, controls, and an improved lens.
THETA X Color
The color of THETA X was carefully considered, particularly how it would compare with the flagship model THETA Z1 and the now discontinued THETA V. We ultimately went with a very particular shade of gray that allows users to easily distinguish THETA X from its kin.
Considering the color balance with THETA Z1 and THETA V
THETA X is metallic gray in color, the same as THETA V, however, we achieved a deeper tone that gives a greater sense of precision and quality compared to THETA V. In order to create a more metallic feel than THETA V, we carefully adjusted the ratio of metallic powder in the mix.
Also, since the touchscreen is made of black glass, we paid close attention to how its color balances with the color of the body.
New Shutter Button Design
Another major design change for THETA X is the updated shutter button. It is now a semicircle instead of the circular buttons of the previous THETA models. In fact, settling on a shape was one of the biggest points of contention among the project members.
THETA X has a large touchscreen, so the shutter button is placed slightly lower than on a conventional THETA. Having a circular shutter button caused the design to look unbalanced, so we came up with the idea of making the entire semicircle shape under the screen act as the shutter button allowing the body design and controls to better suit each.
Designs under consideration (the leftmost option was chosen as the final design)
Some team members were of the opinion that it would be difficult for customers to realize that the half circle under the screen is a shutter button, but we ultimately settled on this solution thinking that it would convey a sense of advanced design that is immediately recognizable even by people who are using THETA for the first time.
So, the entire semicircle below the touchscreen functions as the shutter button. We had to adjust the balance through many design iterations in order to achieve a shutter button that works reliably no matter where it is pressed. The result is a button that is very easy to press and operate.
THETA X also features a larger lens ring design than previous models. We designed a new lens ring that matches the size of the THETA X lens and achieves a better balance. Its color and the texture of the fine grooves were also carefully considered.
THETA X is the first in the series to have a replaceable battery.
If you look closely at the side of THETA X where the battery lid is located, you will notice that it has a gently curved indentation.
This was designed with operability in mind so that when you open the battery compartment your fingers can rest on it this subtle notch, making it easier to open in a natural motion.
We also paid attention to compatibility with dedicated accessories. When either RICOH THETA Stick TM-2 or TM-3 (THETA dedicated selfie sticks) are used together with THETA X, the battery lid can still be opened and closed even while the selfie stick is attached.
USB C Port
The USB-C port for charging THETA X is now on the side, not on the bottom like in previous models. This means that THETA X can easily be mounted on a tripod while being externally powered via USB, eliminating the need for an extension adapter.
The USB port is located far from the lens on the bottom end of THETA’s side and is also oriented vertically. This is in order to minimize the cable’s visibility in frame as much as possible when shooting with the cable plugged in.
Even the length and opening of the soft case were carefully tuned and designed so that the soft case can fit over THETA X while charging.
Take a look and try out the newly designed and much improved THETA X!
Product Designer of THETA X: Kawa Toshihiko
Detail for still image quality of THETA X:
Detail for video feature of THETA X: