The $200 camera is an unusual device that looks more like a handheld periscope than a camera, but the idea is that it’s so easy to use that it does away with the viewfinder and most buttons.
There’s a 146-degree wide-angle lens on the front so that the RE captures pretty much whatever it’s pointed at. It can shoot 1080p video, snap 16MP photos, and offers a few special features such as slow-motion video capture and time-lapse recording. A future software update will add support for broadcasting your videos live over the internet.
The RE Camera pairs with your Android device or iPhone wirelessly and automatically sends your photos and videos to your mobile device.
There’s no power button, manual focus, or other settings on the camera itself. It turns on when you grip it, and lets you snap a picture by tapping a big button. Start a video by long-pressing the same button, and stop the recording by tapping it again.
You can also use the mobile app on your phone as a viewfinder if you really want to be able to see what the lens is capturing. Or you can use the app as a controller to take a picture or start a video recording.
HTC says it doesn’t expect the primary use of the RE camera to be action photography, but it is designed to work with existing action cam mounts. So if you want to use the camera like a GoPro, you can.
It’s waterproof so you can take it swimming. Or you can clip it to a backpack, necklace, bike, or other mount.
Overall the concept is interesting: if the hardware and software work as promised, you can take pictures and videos while looking at the real world with your eyes instead of by looking at a screen or through a viewfinder to frame your shot. But as Gizmodo discovered while testing the camera, in the real world sometimes you end up with blurry shots that way — and you won’t know until after you review your photos.
HTC says the RE Camera will be available in the US in time for the holidays. It’ll be sold at RECamera.com, HTC.com, at retailers including Amazon and Best Buy, and by wireless carriers including Verizon, AT&T, and T-Mobile.
It’s already available for pre-order from RECamera.com.