HTC hosted journalists from around the world in New York yesterday at an event called "Double Exposure," where rather than launch a new flagship smartphone, or even a tablet, the company introduced a new portable video camera called the RE (pronounced ree), along with a more open camera app strategy.
The RE camera is a small, lightweight pocket-sized camera with a capacitive sensor that recognizes it's being touched and turns on to prepare for shooting. A quick press of the button on the back acts as the shutter for snapping 16 MP still images, while a long press initiates video recording in 1080p HD. Video modes are scarce, though slow-motion at 80fps and time-lapse are two additional options.
Despite being waterproof and featuring a 140-degree wide-angle lens, HTC made it clear that the RE isn't being positioned to compete with POV action cam stalwarts like GoPro. Users can simple point and shoot while keeping their attention on the action, or pair the camera with an Android or iOS device via Bluetooth to use the smartphone as a viewfinder and remote control. Images and video footage can be transferred through Wi-Fi Direct, and the camera can be set up to automatically upload content to cloud services like Google Drive.
Rated battery life is up to 90 minutes of video recording or 1,000 still images. But when the camera is dormant, the battery can last on standby for up to two months. An 8 GB microSD card comes in the box, but the RE can handle up to 128GB. The lens is fixed, so there is no way to shoot in macro or even tap a focal point when using a phone as a viewfinder.
There is no confirmed availability for Canada just yet, but the carriers and big box retailers are reportedly expected to carry RE before the holidays. Only the white model will be sold. US pricing is $200, and we expect that a Canadian MSRP will be in the same ballpark.
Meanwhile, HTC also revealed the Desire EYE, an AT&T-exclusive mid-range smartphone that won't be available in Canada.
On the software side, HTC's Zoe camera app is no longer proprietary. The app, first introduced in the HTC One (M7), allows users to mix photos and video together and create and edit short clips that can be shared with others. A new collaboration feature allows users to include Zoe content from others. The app has now been released on Google Play and can be used on other Android devices. An iOS version "built from the ground up" will go live on the Apple App Store before the end of the year. Third-party developers can also use the API and SDK to create their own add-ons to Zoe as well.
Then there's HTC EYE, a feature update designed for HTC handsets. The settings within the camera app now offer options like face tracking for improved face detection and better focus, which also works for video chats with up to four people. Split Capture uses both the rear and front cameras to snap photos and video simultaneously, and Crop-Me-In allows a user to crop themselves into the background shot with the rear camera. Voice Selfie automates the selfie process, where commands to shoot photos and video can be initiated by voice.
EYE will be compatible with the following devices when it rolls out: HTC One M8, HTC One M7, HTC One mini, HTC One mini 2, HTC One Remix, HTC One Max, HTC Desire 612, and HTC Desire 816.
Photos by Ted Kritsonis