Jokes about the resemblance to periscopes and asthma inhalers aside, the HTC RE Camera is a solid camera. It’s extremely unique but in a really good way. I assume engineers at HTC decided to ignore everything we know about traditional cameras and design one from the ground up based on how we actually use these things.
At first I, admittedly, wasn’t impressed. It seemed small, simple and basic. It’s a tube with a lens and two buttons. In reality, it packs much more under the hood and is more rounded out by the un-seen details.
First and foremost, the RE Camera takes great shots. These are wide angle shots that are what we really want in a simple, throw-in-your-pocket-and-use-when-you-need camera. This is better than your smartphone, simpler than your DSLR and more convenient than any mirrorless pocket camera. This is a device from the future and people seemed to have judged it from the looks too quickly.
Taking this around and testing it out there were two reactions. One was curiosity since it looks so different than anything anyone has ever seen. It’s a tube, with a lens, and it takes pictures. To prove what it was I whipped out my smartphone, connected to the camera and showed the pictures or a live feed. It’s impressive once people understand it.
The other reaction was none. Using this camera in public people didn’t seem to notice. It’s discrete enough that you can take picture and nobody really seems to notice. Your arms aren’t extended, balancing a rectangle. Instead, you’re casually holding a grip and tapping the back with your thumb.
Looks aside, the RE Camera really impressed me. The wide aperture can handle low light situations with ease. Most of my shots were in the dark and it handled them much better than I expected (again, I underestimated it).
The market for the RE Camera seems confusing. I found using this was easier than taking out my phone. The RE Camera comes to life instantly when you hold it so it can take a picture or video once you pull it out. If you want to share your shots, pull up the app and share away. Everything is really easy to use.
That becomes a common thread using the RE, simplicity. It’s easy to use and bends to your will. If you want to take a picture, it’s ready. Want to a video selfie, just hold the button for a second. Want to stream live on YouTube, just open the app and tap two buttons.
That streaming feature was an early promised but only recently available addition. Streaming live video to YouTube was exciting but the video quality is limited to 4:3 and 420p so you’ll get “streaming” but not “quality streaming” which is still a great feature.
Live Streaming test video from HTC RE Camera
Live streaming was an exciting thought but I couldn’t see myself using it often, even if the quality was there. Quick videos and pictures were more my speed anyway, that’s what I already do, but the RE is just better at it than my other options.
There were other features that were included and great like time lapse and slo-mo mode. Both worked well but aren’t “daily” features.
The battery life on the RE has room for improvement. There were times the battery was fully charged and ready to go and others when it, for some reason, wasn’t. It may have been kept awake from inside my pocket but charging is fast enough that it doesn’t change the fact it’s a great little camera. HTC offers an extended battery if you feel you need the additional juice.
Based on how the majority of us use our photos and videos, the RE Camera brings everything you need. This is the ideal vacation camera or something to carry if you love selfies. The wide angle lens (Ultra Wide angle is also an option in the settings) brings in a ton of landscape into your shot. Since the camera lacks a screen to frame your shot, you don’t have to be worried you’ll miss something as long as you’re pointing at the general direction.
This is one of my favorite gadgets of the year. Carrying this in your pocket doesn’t get in the way, it’s easy to use and the quality is great. The freshman YouTube streaming feature can use some improvement but this is the device I hope to take on my next vacation because it’s all I’ll really need.
- Strong build
- Unique style
- Easy-to-use design
- Video/photo quality
- Build Quality9