HTC is hedging its consumer electronics bets by expanding its mobile horizons with a new product called Re. It’s a camera somewhat like the once-popular-but-now-dead Flip video camera -- but perhaps on steroids.
The Re goes where the Flip’s relatively short lifespan couldn’t take it, with touch display and a futuristic design that HTC hopes will allow it to cash in on a new product category and reinvent photography. Those are both high hopes, nevertheless there may be room in the market for Re.
Peter Chou, CEO of HTC, explained the company’s focus this way: “redefining the concept of imaging forever.” Playing off smartphones, he called the camera endeavor “smart photography” and he’s convinced that consumers “won’t want to put it down.”
Although the concept brings about Flip-like memories, this doesn’t look much like the Flip. The design is cylindrical and minimalistic, made to fit comfortably in the palm of your hand.
One interesting design feature is the built-in grip sensor, which instantly activates the camera when you pick it up so you don’t have to press the power button, wait for the device to boot up -- and miss the moment in the process. Another feature camera users may appreciate is what HTC calls a “tactile shutter button” that lets you pull the trigger with a tap or take videos with a longer press.
Specs wise, the Re has a high-resolution 16MP CMOS sensor, Full HD (1080p) video recording and a 146-degree wide-angle lens. That wide angle lens means you can actually take photos and videos without burying yourself behind the viewfinder and missing the real-life action through your own two eyes. Re also offers options for slow motion and time-lapse recording, as well as underwater pictures through waterproofing.
Perfect for Outdoors
Although HTC is straying from its smartphone form factor with its latest innovation, the company is hardly forgetting its smartphone roots. The RE integrates with your smartphone through an Android or iOS mobile app that lets you sync content captured on the device over Wi-Fi. You don’t have to sync with your PC to save the images, either. The app facilitates storage in the cloud, and even allows for remote control of the camera.
Roger Entner, principal analyst at Recon Analytics, pointed to similarities with the Flip camera, which had massive marketplace success before Cisco acquired and discontinued the device. He told us HTC is seeing a potential demand for a modern Flip-like camera, especially in places and for uses where you want to take video without risk of breaking your phone.
“More and more bikers and outdoors guys are strapping their camera to their head and shooting video,” Entner said. “If the Re is lightweight and reasonably priced with an hour or more recording time, then it’s awesome. You can use it for everything from riding your mountain bike down a hill to showing video of yourself shooting a deer.”
The HTC Re will initially launch in the US at HTC.com and Best Buy. It will also go on sale in time for the holidays at Amazon.com, AT&T, T-Mobile and Verizon Wireless. The cost is $199.99.