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Hands-on: Re Camera by HTC

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When the Re Camera was announced, many were surprised with this odd looking device. The pipe design was unusual for a camera with some calling it a periscope or an inhaler. Initially thought as a GoPro competitor, the Re Camera isn’t just another action camera.

Over the weekend, HTC Malaysia had organised a photography outing in Melaka where we managed to have a chance to try out the Re Camera that’s paired with the Desire EYE. Both devices will be launched in Malaysia this coming Friday.

Is this a little remarkable camera? Read on to find out.

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HTC wants to make it clear that the Re Camera isn’t going after the GoPro segment. Instead it targets the casual everyday users that love capturing moments. With over 1,000,000 selfies taken in a single day, selfies is a big thing and that’s where its design make sense. The Re Camera’s angled pipe stick design makes it easy to be held in a single hand. To take a picture, the back features a large shiny shutter button that’s easily triggered by press of a thumb. In terms of resolution, it take stills up to 16MP and videos up to Full HD 1080p @ 30fps

There’s no on/off power buttons to meddle around and it goes on standby the moment you pick it up. The Re Camera connects via Bluetooth all the time and it uses WiFi connectivity for live view and transferring pictures or video. When unused the Re Camera goes to sleep but it switches to standby when the proximity sensor around the grip senses that it’s being picked up. To take a picture, you’ll just need to tap the shutter button once.

For recording videos, just long press the button once and you can end the recording by pressing it again after that. The Re Camera records audio too with its mic located at the top of the device. To take slow-motion videos at 720p resolution @ 120fps, you’ll need an additional step by long pressing the smaller button that’s located underneath the camera lens. Once you hear the beep, you’ll need to press and hold the shutter button to start recording. You can shut off the camera sound but you can’t disable the LED lights when you take a picture.

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There’s also a time-lapse video mode as well but you’ll need to activate this through the Re Camera app that’s available for both iOS and Android. Under settings, can set your prefered time lapse interval as well as the frame rate for the actual video. If you prefer to have the individual photos, they are also saved on a separate folder.

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The simplicity of the Re Camera is pretty impressive that even a child or senior citizen can use it without much fuss. On top of that, the Re Camera is also water resistant and you can submerge it under 1 metre of water for 30 minutes without the need of having a waterproof case. If you want to capture videos or photos at lower depth up to 3 metres, there’s an optional waterproof cap that’s attached to the bottom of the device.

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Charging is made easier too with an exposed micro-USB port with no flaps at the bottom. For storage, it uses a microSD card slot (supporting up to 128GB) which is covered with a flap underneath.

To extend your Re Camera usage, HTC is also releasing a couple of mounts and bands to support the Re Camera. Unlike the GoPro with its own proprietary mount, the Re Camera uses the standard tripod mount design that’s being used universally. So if you plan on taking a large Wefie, you can attach this to your existing selfie stick.

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Of course the most critical concern is the quality of its videos and photos. The Re Camera is capable of shooting wide angle shots up to 146° but that results a fish eye effect. For us, we prefer to turn it off as the barrel effect is a little too much for our liking. For day shots, the 16MP output is quite comparable with what you’ll get on a smart phone. Similar in low light situations, a steady hand would be required for a sharper shot. For videos, it gets the job done with full HD resolution but it doesn’t pack as much detail compared to high-end smart phone models. Taking Slow-mo videos is fairly easy to use but the video quality appears to be quite smudgy which is probably due to its compression. You can check out the sample photos and videos at the bottom of this post.

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In terms of framing the shot, it takes a short while to get used with the angle. Since the Re Camera is designed to be held like a pepper spray, you’ll just point it to the subject as if you’re spraying it. If prefer to get a preview, there’s a live feed using the Re app which connects using WiFi. There is a slight delay with the feed but it is faster than our previous generation GoPro HERO 3, which had a 1-2 seconds delay.

Battery life wise, the Re Camera claims to be able to shoot 1,200 photos or 1 hour 40 minutes from its 820mAh battery. In our short field trip with constant tinkering with settings, live feed and time lapse testing, it lasted us about 7 hours of heavy use with over 150 photos and 20 short video clips. For a seasoned user, you should be able to get more out of each charge. If you need more power, it is good to know that you can easily recharge like a smart phone since it uses the popular micro USB port.

The easy of taking pictures at any moment is also a usability issue as well. When left in the pocket or in a bag, it can be prone to accidental snaps and video recording. Luckily there’s a way to switch off the Re Camera completely but that’s only possible through the Re Camera app. While it is a good to keep things simple, we reckon it could have been better if they had included a permanent ON/OFF switch.

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Overall, the Re Camera is a nifty device for those who just want to catch moments quicker in an easy to use manner. If all you’re looking for is a simple point and shoot camera that’s waterproof and constantly connected to your phone, this would be a better alternative to a GoPro. The Re Camera is ever ready to take pictures out of the box and there’s no complicated settings or extra accessories required to get started. It works not only with HTC smart phones as it is compatible for iOS and Android smart phones.

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The image quality could have been better but as a quick cam, this should be good enough for the most users. Obviously for action buffs, the GoPro would be a better choice due to its advance capabilities and wide range of mounts/accessories. The Re Camera will be launched this coming Friday and from what we’ve heard, it will be available by mid-December in time for the Christmas holidays. Pricing wise, expect this to be priced around RM700-900. UPDATE: The Re Camera is officially priced at RM699 in Malaysia.

Re Camera by HTC

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Re Camera Sample Videos

Re Camera Sample Photos

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