HTC RE Digital camera assessment: a enjoyable private shooter with room to develop

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

My father’s camcorder was a standard sight on childhood holidays. Journeys to Mount Rainier, the Oregon Coast, Disneyland, snowboarding, weddings — you identify it, there’s video proof of my siblings and I having fun with time collectively. I am fortunate to have grown up in an period the place this know-how was out there, however as we speak these reminiscences may be captured extra simply and with much less refined (learn: inexpensive) gear. We’ve fast and quick access to cameras at a second’s discover, because of smartphones and tablets, and now one other type issue is beginning to achieve momentum: private cameras. Except the GoPro, this style is now seeing an inflow of small, hand-held units which might be sufficiently small to place in your pocket or bag and may nonetheless take respectable photographs and movies.

HTC is likely one of the corporations dashing to get into this area with the RE digital camera (pronounced “Ree”), an awkwardly named gadget that is formed like a tube, packs a sixteen-megapixel digital camera and 1080p HD video seize and options cross-platform help so Android and iOS customers alike can reap the benefits of it. Can this tiny digital camera take the place of my father’s camcorder? What else is it good for? And is it value paying $200 even when you have already got a smartphone digital camera? Maintain REading to seek out out.

Gallery | 35 Pictures
HTC RE digital camera evaluation

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HTC

HTC RE Digital camera

Execs

  • Enjoyable to make use of, evokes creativity
  • Small and light-weight type issue
  • Nice for utilizing one-handed
  • Waterproof
  • Can use it with out your telephone round

Cons

  • Digital camera high quality is okay, however not higher than most flagships
  • A tad too expensive
  • No HDR, flash, viewfinder or guide controls
  • iOS app provides subpar consumer expertise
  • Battery life is so-so
  • Broad-angle photographs can look slightly odd

Abstract

The RE is a enjoyable private digital camera that is straightforward to make use of for journey, live shows, the seashore and different occasions. However its digital camera is merely common for $200, and you will be pressured to decide on between the comfort of the RE and the picture high quality of your present smartphone.

Hardware

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

Warning: When you purchase the RE, you’ll steadily be requested, “Is that a digital camera?” Roaming the corridor at Engadget Broaden, ready in line at Six Flags, strolling down metropolis streets, attending social occasions and, properly, in all places, I used to be approached by individuals desperate to see why I used to be pointing an upside-down bronchial asthma inhaler at issues. Its tube-like design makes it straightforward to grip and an prompt icebreaker.

Regardless of how a lot I wish to poke enjoyable at its seems (periscope? A bit of PVC pipe?), HTC had the best concept right here: A digital camera like this needs to be small, light-weight and straightforward to carry. It may possibly’t be unwieldy. It must be one thing you need to use typically and share with others. HTC’s reply is an L-formed trinket that weighs sixty six.5 grams (2.35 ounces) and measures ninety six.7mm in size and 26.5mm in width. It is brief sufficient that it will get obscured in my proper hand as I maintain it, however lengthy sufficient that I by no means really feel like it is going to slip out of my grasp.

The RE, which is available in white, orange, blue and teal, has a easy design with simply two buttons. The shutter button sits close to the nook of the gadget, which looks like a pure match once I place my thumb there. Urgent this button takes an image, whereas holding it down for 2 seconds prompts the system to start out recording video (there’s an LED mild to point when the shutter goes off or if you’re recording). The second button, situated on the bottom, is a toggle permitting you to modify to sluggish-mo video seize. Farther down, there’s an unseen grip sensor that is presupposed to detect if you’re holding onto the RE so it does not snap photographs accidentally. In the meantime, one other LED exhibits battery standing, and there is a speaker close to the underside, which emits shutter sounds and different alerts. Lastly, the all-necessary microphone sits alongside the highest aspect.

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

The busiest a part of the RE is the underside aspect. That is the place you will discover a 1/four-inch tripod socket for extra equipment, a normal micro-USB charging port and an 8GB microSD card (you’ll be able to substitute it with one as giant as 128GB). The digital camera is powered by an 820mAh battery and comes with a water-proof score of IP57, which ensures that your gadget can be protected in a meter of water for as much as half-hour. HTC will supply a safety pack (bought individually) that will increase the score to IP58 and retains the RE protected in three meters of water for one hundred twenty minutes. An organization spokesperson additionally confirmed that the RE can deal with publicity to sand and seawater, although it is best to nonetheless watch out, as it isn’t indestructible.

The RE additionally has a gyroscope that may detect when the gadget is the wrong way up, so it’s going to mechanically flip the ensuing pictures in order that they’re dealing with proper aspect up. In fact, you may as well flip off that setting in case you truly need to seize footage this manner.

Loads of equipment abound for the RE. Along with the aforementioned safety pack, HTC presents bike mounts, suction cups, exterior battery packs and a pyramid-like charging stand.

Software program

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

(Picture credit score: Daniel Bader)

HTC has recently been making an attempt to broaden its model past hardware, and so it is engaged on creating cross-platform providers, just like the Zoe app, that work on each Android (four.three+) and iOS (7+) units. The RE is not any totally different: It isn’t restricted to HTC-made units, so so long as you are utilizing both Android or iOS, you’ll buy the digital camera and obtain the companion app.

Within the case of the RE, the software program is not completely important, per se. The digital camera’s able to storing photographs and movies regionally on a microSD card, so you possibly can technically use it with out ever connecting it to a smartphone — simply plug the gadget or the cardboard into your pc and switch the information immediately.

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

Nevertheless, forsaking the smartphone app means you will be lacking out on a couple of key options, like an actual-time viewfinder, distant shutter key and time-lapse video, in addition to the power to replace the digital camera’s firmware simply (there is a strategy to sideload the file onto the SD card, however it’s extra difficult). The latter choice is arguably probably the most essential, particularly as HTC rolls out bug fixes, efficiency enhancements and new options over the system’s lifetime. So whereas it is technically potential to make use of the RE as a standalone digital camera, I might advise towards it. Even so, it is good to know you possibly can take the RE with you anyplace and never need to all the time be tethered to your telephone on the similar time.

The UI is almost the identical on each the Android and iOS variations. After you join the system, which includes pairing utilizing Bluetooth Low Power, you will be introduced with a viewfinder and three distant shutter choices: stills, movies and time-lapse. This makes it a lot simpler to border the sort of shot you need, in case you do not need to do the purpose-and-pray strategy.

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

Close to the highest, you’ll be able to entry the digital camera roll, which consists of all the pictures presently saved on the microSD card. You possibly can again all of them as much as your telephone (each time you go into the app and join the RE) or decide and select particular ones, relying on how a lot area you’ve gotten; there’s additionally the choice to add your whole stuff to Dropbox or Google Drive anytime you are related to a WiFi community.

There are many different niceties within the settings menu. Right here you possibly can toggle extremely-vast-angle mode, change digital camera decision, soften or flip off the shutter sound quantity and, lastly, energy off your system (that is essential, since there is no different option to do it apart from letting the battery die). Talking of the sound, by the best way, I like to recommend leaving it on as a result of the LED indicator is not all the time straightforward to see. There’s additionally the creep issue to think about.

Gallery | 26 Pictures
HTC RE app screens

Though the interface is roughly the identical on each platforms, the consumer expertise is best on the Android app. The RE makes use of WiFi Direct to switch photographs and movies to the telephone, and whereas each cellular OSes help the tech, iOS handles it just a little in a different way. Every time you need to hook up with the RE, the app will ask you to enter your WiFi settings and hook up with the RE’s advert hoc community. As soon as that hyperlink is established, you are good to go — at the very least, till you exit the app or turn out to be idle for longer than three minutes. This can be a big interruption and takes up numerous additional time, and in the event you’re making an attempt to border a shot in a rush, it is an insufficient answer. The Android app, however, establishes a reference to the RE in-app whereas sustaining your telephone’s present WiFi hyperlink. It is a way more seamless expertise.

One different factor: In the event you attempt to watch a RE video on the app with out downloading it to the telephone first, it is virtually inconceivable to get via greater than 10 seconds with out the stream both hiccuping or simply utterly stopping. Typically the video will cease whereas the audio performs on. If HTC cannot get this proper, I am unsure the way it plans to make its upcoming Reside Broadcast to YouTube function (which the corporate says is coming at a later date) a seamless expertise for viewers.

Use instances

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

Until you’ve loads of cash burning your pockets, $200 for a private digital camera might be troublesome to justify, particularly since most of us have already got a wonderfully succesful digital camera telephone, and perhaps even a pill too. We have already mastered the right selfies, and telephone makers have achieved a superb job at shortening the time it takes to tug out our units and begin snapping. So why hassle making an attempt to juggle yet one more system? It is a legitimate argument, and certainly, I used to be skeptical concerning the RE’s usefulness earlier than I performed with one. Now I completely perceive why it is sensible… in sure conditions, at the least.

For one factor, it is simply enjoyable to make use of. It is a unbelievable social device; I handed it to associates, co-staff and relations to see what they might do with it (reply: take a whole lot of shut-ups of their eyes, nostril and different physique elements). We might take selfies collectively and discover different methods to make use of it to move the time.

Additionally, with the RE in-hand, I found I used to be taking extra footage than ever earlier than. It is ridiculous how shortly I reached my 600th shot. I took a number of occasions extra photographs on the RE than I often do on smartphones. Out of the blue, I discovered myself on the lookout for methods to provide you with artistic new photograph alternatives and even took footage of issues that weren’t all that fascinating — you understand, simply in case I wanted the photographs for my subsequent nice masterpiece. I attempted totally different angles; I raised the RE far above my head to catch a brand new perspective on one thing cute my youngsters have been doing; I even took it on a curler coaster and filmed my rides (solely do this in case you’re assured in your grip). It jogged my memory of the primary time I used a digital digital camera as an alternative of movie: I had an epiphany that I might take as many footage as I needed to and simply discard the dangerous ones. The one limitation was the dimensions of my exterior storage card. It was as if an enormous burden had been lifted off of my shoulders. Now in 2014, I get an analogous feeling from the RE.

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

The digital camera can also be straightforward to make use of one-handed, so I might take an image of my daughter as she and I walked within the rain beneath umbrellas; with out the RE, it will’ve been a wrestle to take my telephone out of my pocket, get into digital camera mode after which take the image, all with just one hand. The most important exception to this rule is the shake function on the Moto X, nevertheless it’s nonetheless a couple of seconds quicker to tug out the RE and press the button. Had it been hotter, too, I might have jumped right into a pool with the RE or used it on the seashore. It is lots handier to hold this petite digital camera than a cumbersome telephone, so you’ll be able to take footage and movies of what is occurring with out worrying about getting your handset moist or filled with sand. And because you’re much less tempted to take a look at your telephone, likelihood is you are lots much less distracted.

Which brings me to my subsequent level. It isn’t troublesome to take footage with my telephone, nevertheless it additionally includes extra fiddling round with the app, tweaking settings, ensuring the main target is good and different duties. Say what you’ll about not having a viewfinder on the RE, however it’s one much less distraction preserving you from being targeted on what’s actually necessary: the precise factor you are seeing with your personal eyes. It is simpler to concentrate on what you are capturing, somewhat than the method of capturing it. In any case, I can not take pleasure in my kid’s recital as a lot once I’m hiding behind a display. Is there an opportunity my footage and movies find yourself off-middle? Positive, however the extra I used the RE, the extra I understood what its boundaries and limitations have been, so I developed a way of methods to take higher pictures.

The RE is nice for holidays and journey, climbing and tenting, live shows (for video, at the very least), the seashore and any impromptu second that comes and goes in a matter of seconds — y’know, the tacky stuff you see in commercials. In my preview, I referred to as the RE “the GoPro for NoPros,” and the nickname nonetheless rings true. However that is all contingent upon truly having the gadget useful, which is simpler stated than finished. If it is in your backpack or purse, you will probably spend numerous seconds making an attempt to dig it out. It is also sufficiently small that you’re going to by chance depart it at house or within the automotive on a number of events (this occurred to me a couple of occasions). In probably the most very best state of affairs, which includes me having it in-hand or at the very least in my pocket prepared for a fast draw, it is an enormous timesaver; for each different second through which it isn’t, you will in all probability default to grabbing your telephone.

Efficiency

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

The RE takes sixteen-megapixel nonetheless pictures with a four:three facet ratio, although you possibly can drop the decision right down to 12MP in case you choose to shoot in sixteen:9. Movies max out at 1080p/30 fps, although sluggish-movement seize is available in at 720p. Thus, photographs taken with the RE pack the identical variety of pixels because the Samsung Galaxy Notice four and Galaxy S5, however it lacks UHD video seize, which is shortly turning into an ordinary on flagship smartphones.

In fact, simply because the RE has the identical decision as excessive-finish handsets doesn’t suggest they will be of the identical high quality. There are a couple of key elements that make the RE totally different. The RE’s aperture is far smaller at f/2.eight, making it harder to make use of in low-mild situations; default pictures use a one hundred-diploma broad-angle shot, growing to 146 levels on extremely-vast pictures (movies are 86 levels); and there isn’t any autofocus, guide settings or HDR to reinforce your pictures in any method. So how a lot of an impression do these elements have?

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

You understand how automotive mirrors say objects are nearer than they seem”? The large-angle lens on the RE makes some pictures end up precisely the identical method; the stuff I shot wound up wanting extra distant than they actually have been. As well as, distortion is straightforward spottable on the outer edges of most photographs: Road poles look curved (#bendgate2); individuals get stretched; and so forth. Thus, you will get photographs taken from a completely totally different perspective than you usually would get on a smartphone digital camera. It makes for some actually artistic photographs, however maintain the large-angle facet in thoughts if you’re making an attempt to arrange the right selfie. And even should you assume you are shut sufficient to the photograph’s topic (and are not wanting on the distant viewfinder), you could need to inch a bit of nearer simply in case.

The kicker is that whereas it is good to get nearer, you do not wanna get too shut. Once I tried to take shut-up photographs of something, the item would seem barely blurry, whereas all the things farther away remained in focus. Determining methods to body your photographs on this gadget is a discovered talent, however over time, you will get higher as you uncover one of the best angles and distances for every sort of state of affairs.

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

Of the roughly 600 pictures I took in the course of the course of my evaluation, at the least 15 % of my digital camera roll consisted of blurry, unusable photographs that seemed like I might been shaking the system when the shutter went off. One of many main culprits right here is shutter lag. From a chilly begin (if you have not taken footage in a short while), it takes round two seconds for the RE to fireside off a shot. More often than not, I forgot to remain completely nonetheless; the thought of this digital camera is to shoot one thing shortly and transfer on to the subsequent factor, so once I would exit for a stroll, I might are likely to press the button and maintain strolling. In consequence, fairly a couple of of my photographs have been taken as I used to be dropping my arms. Ultimately I acquired within the behavior of taking two photographs, because the second shot’s shutter delay is far shorter — only a half a second or so.

About 15 to twenty footage in my digital camera roll have been taken in my pocket. This was sudden, because the RE comes with a sensor that detects if you’re holding it and disables the button once you’re not. Thus, there is a small probability that for those who place it within the backside of a handbag subsequent to a number of different small gadgets that are likely to shift round, you might discover random photographs of nothing particularly. On one event, the RE dropped onto the ground of my automotive and presto — I now have a prized image displaying what’s beneath the again seat. (Let’s simply say there is a purpose I left that picture out of the photograph gallery.)

Gallery | fifty nine Pictures
HTC RE digital camera samples

In direct daylight on a transparent day, the RE’s publicity appears just a little too excessive. The solar bleaches out the blue sky that sometimes exhibits up wealthy and deep on flagship telephone cameras, and lots of high-quality particulars are misplaced. Colours additionally typically seem undersaturated. And given its comparatively small aperture, it is no shock that lowlight photographs have been disappointing; I wasn’t capable of seize as a lot mild as many telephone cameras. Even the few pictures that confirmed up fairly properly nonetheless suffered from loads of noise. It was troublesome to get in-focus footage once I snapped photographs of shifting objects (particularly evident in live shows and late-night time dinners). In different phrases, the RE may go in a pinch, however do not depend on this digital camera when there’s little or no mild to benefit from.

(To see my full-res pictures, go to my Flickr web page. I left in most of the blurry photographs so you will get an concept of how straightforward it’s to take them.)

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

Sluggish-movement video seize was clean sufficient, however its 720p decision took much more of a toll than I had initially anticipated. Most of my footage was so grainy that it did not look anyplace near HD high quality. Once more, it is nice for goofing round, however it wants some enhancements. There’s additionally no approach to change the speeds both; it should not be troublesome for HTC so as to add this function to the settings menu, however the firm is maintaining it at 4x velocity for now.

The max video seize decision is 1080p/30fps, however you can even use 720p/30fps in case you’re making an attempt to save lots of area. At 1080p, the footage offers an general bit price of 17.eight Mbps, and the gadget comes with a video-stabilization function that gives barely smoother outcomes when it is turned on. That is particularly necessary whenever you’re filming with the RE in-hand, as a result of most palms are going to be no less than slightly shaky. (My palms might be fairly unsteady, however most of my movies nonetheless turned out smoother than I anticipated.) The system captures audio surprisingly nicely; I used the RE at a live performance and the music got here out clear and straightforward to listen to. I used to be anticipating the sound to be muffled and unusable in such a loud venue, so I used to be fairly proud of how properly it turned out. (If you wish to truly see the band in your video, nevertheless, you will need to be near the stage as a result of the RE has no zoom perform.)

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HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

Battery life

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

The opposite key aspect of the RE’s efficiency is its battery life. It is designed to be moveable and useful sufficient so that you can take in all places you go, however what good is it going to do you if it dies midway via the day? As with telephones, mileage will differ tremendously relying on how a lot you are utilizing it. It might final for days on standby for those who’re by no means taking footage or establishing a connection to your telephone, however it does not final so lengthy if you’re snapping an entire bunch of photographs of your loved ones whereas on trip. On a current journey to Six Flags, I took photographs and movies of as many issues as I might consider, and acquired four.5 hours of runtime earlier than the RE wanted a recharge. HTC claims it will get roughly an hour and 50 minutes of steady video seize, and my very own outcomes did not veer too removed from that; my unit died after an hour and 35 minutes. And though I did not check out HTC’s estimate which you could take 1,200 pictures in a single cost, I spent a whole day at Engadget Increase taking a complete of one hundred ten photographs, 15 movies and 10 sluggish-movement movies earlier than it powered off — a wholesome combine, to make certain, however in the event you plan to make use of the RE so much in at some point, you will need to get the non-compulsory prolonged battery pack.

Wrap-up

HTC RE Camera review: a fun personal shooter with room to grow

The RE is not the one private digital camera available on the market, nevertheless it’s the most convenient to make use of. For $one hundred you will get the Polaroid Dice, a small dice-like system with a 6MP digital camera, 1080p video seize and magnets for attaching to metallic objects. Nevertheless, it isn’t very snug or straightforward to carry for lengthy durations of time. There’s additionally the flagship GoPro Hero collection, which is primarily an motion digital camera catered to athletes, filmmakers and different professionals that begins at $200 (the Hero4, which comes with a 12MP digital camera and 4K video decision, goes for $four hundred+; there’s additionally a decrease-finish Hero mannequin with 5MP and 720p max res at $one hundred thirty). The RE, however, is $200 and is supposed for use by the on a regular basis shopper — mother and father, vacationers and anybody else concerned with documenting their life. Actually, HTC does not even take a look at GoPro as a direct competitor for that purpose.

On paper, the RE’s worth is not so ridiculous. It appears to suit proper in-between the Dice and GoPro, however HTC’s goal market will not be as simply satisfied. It is geared towards the typical Joe, who will possible scoff on the $200 price ticket as a result of he has a telephone digital camera that may do a variety of the identical stuff. It comes right down to the worth of comfort over picture high quality and price: The RE is nice in a pinch and takes loads of good photographs, however most of your photographs will not be higher than on many flagship and mid-vary telephones. So anytime you need to hearth off a fast image, you will end up deciding between the velocity and ease of use of the RE and the higher high quality of your smartphone.

It is a robust promote for many, however I did discover the RE fairly gratifying to make use of. It inspired me to be extra artistic with my images, and I took a variety of pictures of issues I would not have in any other case. There’s loads of potential with this kind issue, and with a lower cost and enhancements to the picture high quality, the digital camera could possibly be very profitable. However till then, it is merely a primary-era product with some cool use instances that simply occurs to be somewhat tough across the edges.

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<a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/htc/re/”> HTC RE </a>

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  • <a href=”http://www.engadget.com/merchandise/htc/re/” title=”HTC RE critiques” goal=”_blank”> Evaluations zero </a>
  • Costs
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  • Sort Shopper
  • Type issue Handheld
  • Media sort Reminiscence card
  • Recording time forty minutes
  • Sensor sort CMOS
  • Dimensions three.eighty one x 1.04 in
  • Weight 2.31 oz
  • Introduced 2014-10-08

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