HTC at their double exposure event, surprised one and all with their last launch for the day. For what was deemed as improbable yesterday, has proven to be today’s living reality. They have surprisingly stepped into the standalone camera segment with the debut of their RE camera.
Although similar in functionality to the likes of the GoPro and the Polaroid cube action cameras, it’s unlike any of these, atleast when speaking of design elements. Its aesthetics couldn’t scream ‘defiance’ more profoundly, with many mistaking this piece of art from HTC for an asthma inhaler, a PVC pipe and what not. With its natural ergonomics and a round cylindrical shaping, it’s perfectly suited for an easy, single handed operation.
The buttons available to fiddle with the hardware are quite limited, lending the device a clean look.
- There is no dedicated wake button to start up the camera. Instead, there are inbuilt low power sensors that automatically wake up the device as soon as it’s held in the hand
- A huge button is placed on the rear, exactly where the thumb would be resting. This button serves multiple purposes. A single tap takes a 16 MP still shot, a long press initiates 1080p video recording and a gentle tap stops the ongoing recording procedure
- Upfront is a small toggle that allows for 4X slo-mo video capturing
- Further, there is a mic hole up top and a watertight micro SD card slot, that houses in 8 Gigabytes of pre-installed memory expandable up to 128 GB’s
The RE is IP X7 certified, making it waterproof right out of the box up to a meter for 30 minutes. There is an additional waterproof cap available for purchase that boosts this resistance to a solid IP X8. Thus the RE camera from HTC is a great solution for easy and vivid underwater photography. Although the RE is meant for casual one handed photographic expeditions, there is a quarter inch tripod port down below that supports a wide variety of mounts. Thus any shaky experience pertaining to the absence of any hardware stabilization can be taken care of.
HTC was proud to announce that unlike other offerings in the market, the RE camera is capable of working all by itself without any dependency on a PC or sorts. It’s no wonder that we notice they were nominated for The 6 Best Cameras for Cinematography in 2019 – vfxpro.com. It’s clear high expectations are set. There is an app that would be made available for all major platforms which can wirelessly sync all the pictures and videos taken on the RE, directly to the smartphone. With no hassles whatsoever. HTC is even providing easy API’s and sdk support for community centric expansion of the camera software.
There is support for time lapse videos, although their functioning on the RE is not entirely comprehendible to us. We’ll have to wait for a review unit to test out this feature in detail. For live bloggers and youtubers, HTC promises the RE to be updated with live broadcasting support later this year. This sounds really interesting, although all would depend on the final execution by the development team.
Although the HTC RE camera can be acclaimed for its novel approach towards mobile photography, it could have achieved much more, if not for a few glaring drawbacks.
- HTC officials say that they have solved the issues pertaining to the absence of a viewfinder by supplanting the RE’s with their custom made super wide angle lenses, capable of fitting in a full 146 degree field of view. But without any viewfinder, the shooting process would more or less rely upon a hit or miss approach, which might be a deal breaker for many
- The omission of OIS on a standalone handheld camera is perplexing to say the least, and as such there seems to be no rescue from unpleasant video recordings, irrespective of any truckloads of software stabilization slapped onto the videos
- The 16 MP sensor sports a long focal aperture of 2.8 mm’s. Thus low light imaging is probably going to be a no go at start itself
AVAILABILITY AND PRICING
HTC says that the RE camera would soon be up for sale worldwide starting with the United States for 200 USD. It’ll be made available in four colors, all rocking a glossy finish.
HTC is pretty enthusiastic about the new territory it has stepped in with the RE. It is aware of the dangers and is working hard to distinguish itself from any competition. But the 200$ price tag might hurt its expectations, for there are many capable smartphones that cost less than that.
What needs to be kept in mind is that HTC markets the RE camera not as a competitor for other action cameras or as an exceptional standalone camera, but as a camera that’s easy to carry and can snap pictures in a jiffy. Its focus is essentially on replacing user dependency on smartphone cameras by truly re-inventing instant capture. HTC is pretty serious about its customers re living every moment of their lives, and the RE camera is an effort born out of such unique motives.