HTC is known for smartphones, and we’ve even associated the brand with tablets, but cameras? That’s a new one, and the company has something new for a world obsessed with taking pictures everywhere.
It’s solution for a world in love with capturing photos is a rather unusual camera that looks a little like a periscope or a military-grade torch, or possibly even an asthma inhaler, and it even sounds a little like that asthma puffer, too.
HTC calls it the “Re” or “RE” depending on how close to the brand you like to keep capital letters, and it is basically an action camera shaped nothing like a conventional action camera.
Currently, that section of the camera market is dominated by GoPro’s products, and while these are great for some, HTC thinks it can capture a different group of people, namely people who aren’t using action cameras for extreme sports or professional filming, with a funny looking camera that is easy to hold and offers simple captures.
The unique form-factor is paired with a wide-angle lens (146 degrees), making it easy to grab a selfie when aimed at the person holding it, while having it look out at the world will offer a wide view of the world around them, and the main button you use to take the pictures is pretty much where your forefinger will always go, a big circle painted silver and metallic.
That one button is there to make things as easy as possible, with a single press firing a shot, while it held down will start capturing a video and a subsequent press will stop it.
There’s also a secondary button under the lens for kicking in a 120fps slow-motion mode, but basically, that one silver button is all you need to remember.
Images on the Re are shot at 16 megapixels, while videos are captured in Full HD 1080p, except when slow-motion is engaged, bringing it down to 720p HD for a burst of slow motion, and while you can shoot images and video without seeing the world through a screen, you can also use an Android or iOS device to wirelessly link up to the camera and view from one of these devices, useful if you need to have a viewfinder and can’t live without a representation of what you’re capturing.
Even if you don’t rely on phones and tablets, images are captured and stored on a microSD card, with an 8GB card included in the box.
One other thing is quite important, and that’s the elements. It would be a waste of time if the camera took a dive and became useless, and that’s why HTC’s Re is technically water-resistant, able to survive up to a metre of water for up to 30 minutes without any extra accessories or cases, though you can get a special plug for the bottom that will extend those limits to up to three metres for a longer amount of time.
“We are very excited to introduce Re into the emerging devices market to revolutionise the way people capture, edit, share and enjoy their photos and videos,” said Ben Hodgson, Country Manager for HTC Australia and New Zealand.
“Re is arriving in Australia just in time to capture those Christmas memories and thanks to its unique waterproof properties, it’s perfect for the summer holiday period.”
While we do have a review coming, a brief hands-on with the Re camera shows that it is more fun than you might expect to carry around and take pictures, generally without thinking. There’s virtually no wait time for the camera to start up — maybe a second or two — and it happens the moment you begin to move the camera and press its button, staying on for a few minutes until you put it down again.
This “ready to go” design means it’s pretty much ready to take pictures whenever you need it to, and means you generally won’t miss a shot, even if sometimes there isn’t enough light to work with.
In fact, the lack of light is already something we’re having some issues with, as in daylight, the HTC Re provides some decent quality images, but the moment it starts to get even a hint of darkness outside, you’ll find blur and an inability to cope with low light.
It also offers some pretty shallow focus levels when aiming at your self, making us question just how useful it will be when used for selfies.
We’ll give it a proper flogging as time goes on, that said, and we’re really curious to see how this camera will handle the underwater world, since its unique handle and water-resistant properties could make it ideal for the little ones, even if its price is a little bit of a setback.
That price is $249, and you’ll find it in stores shortly, appearing in Telstra, Next Byte, and Fone Zone stores this year, with more places next year.