Looking for a (really) last minute gift idea for the gadget lover in your life? We might suggest the new HTC RE camera. A nifty little piece of tech, this light, mostly plastic, grip-sized contraption essentially serves as an extension of your smartphone. Recently we took one for a test drive to see how useful the RE is, how easy it is use and just how well it works. Here is what we found out.
Firstly the RE is easy to point and shoot, and you can grip it like you would a joystick and click the trigger with your thumb. Combined with the wristlet, the shape of the camera is a natural fit for a fist and it feels way more secure in precarious situations where you would sooner leave your phone someplace secure, but simply must take a picture (anything for a great selfie, right?).
For our purposes, horseback riding was the testing environment. Maintaining control of your animal while snapping pictures is fairly difficult, and if you lose grip on your phone, that little piece of tech is dropping at least six feet into the mud, only to be trampled by your noble steed. Not a chance we were willing to take.
Overall this was a practical application for the RE. We can also envision using it on things like roller coasters or skateboards, to take shots incognito (nobody will guess it’s a camera), or leaning way too far over some railing to get the perfect shot. Battery life is very good and it’s waterproof up to one meter, so feel free to take it snorkeling. All-in-all it's a pretty handy little device.
Of course as with anything, the RE has its downsides. There is no screen or view finder, making it a guessing game when you are shooting, unless of course you can have your phone out with the app on, in which case you can see what the RE sees in real time. In more controlled situations this is a great feature. Imagine looking down at your phone innocently, while aiming the RE where you want with nobody being the wiser. In less stable environments though, there is really no way at all to tell if you are taking anything worth keeping (it is however kind of fun to go through them all later!). That said, pictures we took “sight unseen” impressed us more than we thought they would.
You also control the media files on the RE through the app, from which you have to export to your photos, should you want them in your regular library. Additionally if you happen to be on Wi-Fi for connectivity, the iPhone we had paired with it would not also stay connected to the device, meaning you had to take the time to switch between the two--which was often a pain to deal with. But then again this isn’t necessarily about perfect functionality, this is a fun add-on to your existing smartphone set up.
The RE is cool. It’s functional. We can definitely find a use for it and it was a fun toy to play around with. The camera comes with standard and wide angle (146 degrees) lenses, shoots images in 16 megapixels and captures HD video. It runs for $199 and there are three different mounting accessories to choose from should you like to clip it to a bike, suction it to a surface or attach it to your person.