RED Hydrogen One launch date revealed, early adopters censored

Do you believe in the promise of a true glasses-free 3D smartphone as envisioned by pro camera maker RED? If so, the good news is that the camera will finally arrive before the year ends, presuming there are no problems along the way. Even better, true believers can sign up to get a Houdini developer model months ahead of everyone else. That privilege, however, comes at a cost. You cannot publicize anything non-constructive about the device or risk having your phone remotely bricked.

The stream of announcements was made by RED CEO Jim Jannard himself over at the Hydrogen user forums. There he reveals that the Hydrogen One phone will ship to pre-order customers on October 9 while everyone else, which means AT&T and Verizon customers, will have to wait until November 2. The 3D smartphone will sell for $1,295 then and will only be available in aluminum Black or Shadow colors. Titanium will only be available next year.

RED is also giving pre-order customers a chance to jump on the phone a lot earlier through it Houdini developer program. Those who get into the program will get the phone sometime between August 31 to September 11. As the "developer" in the name says, the phone that they will get is a production sample with pre-release software.

The biggest caveat of all, however, is what these testers will be allowed to say in public. They can post pictures of the device as long as they are not disassembled (sorry iFixit), good images from the camera, and nice things about the phone. They can't publish anything negative about the device, including problems, bugs, issues, or bad camera output. The consequences for violating those rules? bricking the $1,000 3D phone.

"We reserve the right to brick the device if used for any purpose other than giving us constructive feedback. If you are a vocal critic or reviewer, wait until after the launch."

This will undoubtedly ruffle not a few feathers, though you have to give RED credit for being so open about the quid pro quo. Their line of reasoning is that they are still in the process of refining and developing the device and that any public negative feedback only hampers their progress. They are, after all, shipping a developer version, not a finished product. Whether that justifies such a kind censorship, however, is a different question.