It could very well pass on as a smoking pipe or an inhaler or like I imagine a pipe from where Mario could emerge any moment. But spend some time with HTC’s first stand-alone camera contraption and it is hard not to crave for it. Called RE, HTC is hoping to capture an untapped market – one that consists of users who want a handy camera that can fit into their pockets, take pictures and shoot videos hasslefree, and probably even accompany them to a day at the beach or the swimming pool. With RE, HTC just doesn’t want you to reimagine the company but also how you use your camera. I have been playing around with the HTC RE for the past few hours and here are my first impressions. Also Read - YouTube, Gmail, Google Maps stops working on these phones from today: Check if your phone is in the list
The HTC RE is a beautifully designed product, which could even pass off as something that was designed in California and assembled in China. It fits perfectly in the hand with just the periscope-like lens protruding from the top of the thumb. Even though it is made from glossy plastic, it feels good and comfortable to hold. I have a bad case of shaky hands but the way RE is designed and the grip it provides, even I managed to shoot some video clips without any considerable shake. Given a choice, I would prefer shooting videos with the RE than a smartphone. Also Read - HTC Desire 20+ launched with 48-megapixel quad rear camera setup
The RE doesn’t have a viewfinder and depending on how you look at it, that could be its greatest flaw or the biggest accomplishment. Also Read - HTC Wildfire E Lite smartphone design leaks online
Without a viewfinder you are essentially aiming the camera blind, which could mean cutting a portion of someone’s head while shooting them and not being able to frame a shot perfectly. HTC has somewhat managed to negate that by providing a wide angle 146 degree camera. But still, in order to get the frame right, you will need a smartphone with the RE app installed on it to be able to use the phone’s display as the viewfinder. Thankfully, HTC is launching the RE app not just for Android smartphones from other brands but also on iOS.
HTC is positioning the RE as a fun camera, one that you carry around with and capture moments that you wouldn’t have been able to with a smartphone camera. It is instant as it switches on as soon as you hold it and all it takes to shoot photos and videos is a click of the shutter button. The absence of a viewfinder means you are not witnessing the moment through the limited view of field provided by the camera’s viewfinder. It is a very personal choice – either you will absolutely love the RE or hate it, there is no middle ground.
The shutter button is on the top part of the RE, which makes it perfect to reach with your thumb. It is very much like clicking a lighter, very intuitive. A second button on the front below the lens activates the time lapse mode. It can also shoot videos in 120 frames per second at 720p resolution for slow motion videos. Regular videos are shot at full HD 1080p resolution.
There is no auto-focus mechanism on the RE though I was quite surprised by the photo quality, especially under good lighting conditions. It currently struggles under low light conditions but I was using a prototype and the software isn’t final, either. Under good lighting, it snaps some really good 16-megapixel resolution shots.
The 820mAH battery is good enough to click over a thousand photos or slightly under two hours of full HD video. An upcoming software update will also enable users to stream live to YouTube. The RE doesn’t have any usable internal memory but it comes with an 8GB microSD card and can accommodate cards up to 128GB.
The HTC RE will be launched in India sometime next month. It is priced at $199 in the US and its success depends on how HTC prices it in India. I’d reckon it to be priced closer to Rs 10,000 than Rs 15,000 and HTC could have a surprise hot selling product on its hands.