HTC Re Review

Chris Burns - Nov 6, 2014
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HTC Re Review

So you’ve seen this little pipe of a camera from HTC called the Re, but you don’t know what to make of it. It’s a new idea. It’s a new execution. It’s not something your everyday average citizen is going to recognize. But that’s a good thing. The HTC Re doesn’t look like a camera – not a standard camera, not an action camera. It doesn’t feel like a camera either – it feels like a magic wand made to capture all the light around you.

Hardware

The HTC Re is a camera. It’ll be on the market in several colors soon – we’ve got the white version. You’ll notice here that it has one massive button that acts as a shutter trigger, and another button under the lens. It has built-in speakers to send out “beep” noises as notifications.

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The Re camera works with a 16-megapixel 1/2.3″ Sony CMOS camera sensor that’s able to capture video and photos with a 146-degree wide angle lens.

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It’s big – you’re going to want to wipe it clean with your t-shirt as often as possible.

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This device is able to work with or without its official Android or iOS (iPhone, iPad) app for remote viewing, capture, and upload. You can also plug the device in to your computer with a microUSB cord.

• 1080p, 30fps FHD video
• 720p, 4x slow motion video
• 146 degree super wide angle lens with f2.8 aperture for low light usability
• 820mAh rechargeable battery
• Supports 1hr 50mins of continuous FHD video recording
• 26.5 mm diameter
• 97.7 mm height

You can immediately have the Re camera’s photos and video transferred to your phone on-the-go. You can also keep your video and photos on the Re camera itself – though you’ll need a microSD card to do so.

In fact if you plan on purchasing a Re camera, you’ll also want to think about purchasing a microSD card if you don’t already have one. This device requires a microSD card and comes with an 8GB card standard in its box – you might want to go bigger.

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You’ll be connecting with BLE – aka Bluetooth Low Energy for the lowest possible drain on your smartphone with Bluetooth 4.0. This device also has Wi-Fi Direct capabilities and Wi-Fi (802.11a/b/g/n).

On the base of the camera you’ll find a standard tripod hole for screwing in your standard tripod gear, and under a small flap you’ve got a microSD card slot. Keep this slot sealed tight if you plan on hitting the water.

Above you’ll see the basic nature of the app in its first edition. You’ve got very few options with this device – but for now, you won’t need em. HTC will almost certainly bring on more features to the software for the hardware in the future – we’ll have to wait and see.

This is a camera?

Yes, yes it is. The HTC-made “Re” is a camera. Again, it should be clear that it does not look like a camera, but it certainly is a camera. You can take photos and you can capture video with it, with great ease.

Now bear with me while I compare the HTC Re to a magical tool from Harry Potter. The HTC Re reminds me of the Deluminator. This is the device that Dumbledore uses when he first appears, capturing the light from lamps on the street.

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Like the Deluminator, you’re able to capture light in the form of video and photos, only to then re-release the light into the world in the form of digital files. It’s like HTC was inspired by J.K. Rowling herself.

When you can’t see what you’re taking photos and video of, it’s a lot easier to dismiss the quality of the images and video you’re capturing.

The HTC Re should not be considered a tool for those that want to perfect the images they’re capturing while they’re capturing them.

There is a “Re” app, but if you use the app (as a view screen), you sort of dismiss the whole point of the device. It’s made to help you detach.

Detach from the smartphone, detach from needing to see the photo or the video as you capture it. The HTC Re is almost like a time machine – like a disposable, film camera, you’re snapping photos without knowing how they’ll turn out.

It’s a very freeing experience to use the Re.

It’s both entertaining and fun to use the Re.

It’s easy to get carried away using the Re.

You’re going to take massive amounts of photos. You won’t be able to stop taking photos of everything.

Outdoors, Walking, Sunny Day

What you see here is an absolutely un-cut, un-edited (resized to fit in your browser, but nothing beyond that) collection of photos taken on a walk in one 10-minute session. This is start to finish, some taken while walking, some while standing still.

Under Water, Indoors, Sink

You can use the Re underwater, but thus far our results have been… less than fantastic. We’ve not done extensive tests underwater quite yet – but what you see is what you get.

Above you’re seeing several examples of the same couple of LEGO superheroes in a sink with relatively generous indoor lighting overhead photographed by the Re. Below you’re seeing the same two heroes photographed by the HTC Desire EYE.

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This is where using the smartphone-based viewscreen would come in mighty handy.

Indoors, Night, 3-year-old

The photos in the following tiny gallery were taken by a 3-year-old. Not exactly steady, but a good example of how you can make some blurry photos if you try really hard.

Video, Indoors, Outdoors

The first video you’re going to see here was captured with the Re stuck in my jacket, held up by my jacket’s zipper. This is not the ideal capture setup, but it’s what we’ve got today. Note that HTC is set to release a strap that’ll allow us to place the device in essentially the same place soon.

What you’re going to want to pay attention to in the video above VS the video below is sound. There are sounds crunching around in the video above because the zipper literally taps against the Re’s microphone holes.

Below you’ll hear next to no sound at all – in this video I’m holding the Re in my hand. The Re is really, really good at masking wind, car noises, and everything you might normally be inundated with capturing video with a smartphone.

We’ll be adding more video (and photos) once we’ve got the proper accessories to mount this device here and there.

Happenstance

This past Friday I walked from the house we were staying at for Thanksgiving and there, in the middle of a relatively wood-less suburban area, was a row of deer. Lucky for me, I had the HTC Re in my jacket pocket.

So I pulled the camera from my pocket and held the button down for a moment, capturing the video you see here. It’s no award-winning cinematic masterpiece, but it did the trick.

Wrap-up

Should you buy the Re? If you’re not satisfied with the abilities of the Polaroid Cube, then yes. They essentially do the same thing, right this moment. There’s no app for the Cube – it’s all self-contained – but they’re both made to be relatively low-cost go-anywhere cameras.

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What if you’re an iPhone or an HTC smartphone user? Really it doesn’t matter what kind of smartphone user you are – you don’t even really need a smartphone to use this device. It’s an awesome accessory for a smartphone, certainly, but you do not need one to work with the other.

Would this make an awesome gift? That might be the key. This device has a big ol’ lens, a big ol’ button, and it’s completely unique in its execution. It takes pretty decent photos, video looks good (above water) and sounds great. It’s a really FUN device to use, that’s for certain.

Once we get the accessories that go WITH this camera, we’ll be adding on to this review as well – the use cases can only increase from here.


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