In October, when I attended the launch of the HTC Re camera, it was still a device with some rough edges and with an accompanying app that was still more on paper than in your phone. Now, with the pipe-shaped camera launched in India, I got to spend some quality time with it and with an app (loaded on the new HTC Desire Eye) that actually works. So I think it is a good time to update my earlier review.
Specs: Size: 96.7 x 26.5 mm | Weight: 65.5 grams | Memory: 8GB microSD included; Expansion card slot supports microSDTM memory card for up to 128GB additional storage | Sensors: Grip sensor; G-sensor | Connectivity: Bluetooth 4.0; Wi-Fi® (802.11 a/b/g/n), Wi-Fi Direct; micro-USB; 1⁄4” tripod connection | Camera: 16MP; 1/2.3” CMOS sensor; Ultra wide angle: 146° lens (f/2.8); 1080p, 30fps FHD video 720p, 4x slow motion video; Time-lapse video recording | Audio: HD microphone; Speaker | Durability: IP57 waterproof | Compatibility: Compatible with Android 4.3 and above (BLE equipped); and iOS 7 or later | Battery: 820 mAh rechargeable battery (1,200 16MP photos; 1 hour 40 min of continuous FHD video recording); AC Adapter
Design: The HTC RE looks like anything but a camera. It has a large lens and the idea was to build the device around it. The end result resembles an inhaler used by asthmatics, but it has a tubular body that give it a perfect grip in your hand. Most of the body is in your hand and pipe curves to point the lens towards the subject. To shoot, you have to just point the lens at the subject and press the button behind it — a single press clicks a still photo, while a long press initiated Full HD video. There is another button in front to switch on the slow-motion mode. There is a flap at the bottom where the SD card goes in. The device is waterproof. At the bottom is a ring that can be screwed in with the lanyard. The lanyard is crucial as you will holding the camera in your hand all the time.
The App: The Re app is new to me as the first review was done even before the app was released on the store. I did see a pre-launch version of the app, but that was far from perfect. The new app starts by searching for a Re camera in the vicinity. Once they are paired, everything that the camera is looking at is mirrored on your app. You can easily switch from stills to video and time lapse. There is a gallery of everything you have shot and the option to save them to the phone if needed.
Shooting: HTC has simplified, or over simplified, the process of shooting with a camera. There is no need to focus, frame a shot or adjust settings. Just aim the camera in the general direction of the subject and press the button. The ultra wide angle f/2.8 lens can capture anything within a 146 degree radius of the lens. But this means you need to have a reasonable sense of direction. You stand the chance of including unnecessary elements in the frame, as is obvious from my trail video. The first time I shot with the Re without the help of the Re app to show me what I was shooting. This time I had the Re app on the phone and knew exactly what I was up to. However, the app is a bit disorienting. I kept changing the position of the phone and not the Re to get a better shot. It took a while to get this coordination right. There is a slight lag in the app when the camera starts shooting initially, after that it becomes seamless. Well, almost.
The one small concern I had while using the camera earlier what that I did not know whether the camera was shooting at all. There is not such confusion when you are using the app to guide you. While the Re camera is really simple to use in itself, the app adds a level of comfort and confidence that you will not have while shooting blind.
Results: As you can see from the test video, the results were pretty crisp and clear. Though I felt they lacked the awesomeness of the some of the GoPro videos I have seen, they are more than sufficient to bring a smile to the family when they watch a home video of their last picnic. The one thing that I was not all that impressed by was the audio quality, especially when the subject is not all that near. Plus, low light isn’t one of its strong points despite the large lens. The slow-motion is pretty neat. Overall, you will not have issues with most types of video.
Verdict: Given the Rs 9,990 price tag, I think the RE is a good camera options for those who love shooting video everywhere and don’t want to spend on a GoPro. This camera is easier to handle and use with literally no set up required. It is better when paired with a smartphone, for that was the way Re was envisioned and designed. Of course, you won’t have the large bouquet of accessories that can be bought to work with a GoPro. But then that could be a good thing as you won’t spend too much more on this camera.