HTC Re Review
This is the very first time that HTC is gettig into the action cam market and the HTC RE offers a different approach to the usual configuration that has been widely popularized by GoPro. The execution is quite unique, the design a bit intriguing. But, does it perform up to par with the rest? Check out our full review below to find out.
For all intents and purposes, the HTC Re is classified as an action cam but the Taiwanese company is positioning it as a lifestyle camera — one that you can comfortably bring along every day.
The fun and vibrant appeal is an HTC signature and a stark contrast to the seriousness and sporty appearance of the GoPro and the likes.
Design and Construction.
When HTC first introduced the RE camera, they showed an odd yet interesting take on the action cam. The device looks like an L-shaped tube that closely resembles that of an inhaler that’s used by asthmatic patients. Some might think of it as a funny-looking contraption but the form factor and the design has some very clever practical use.
At the shorter end of the L-shape tube is the camera lens with the longer end serving as a monopod of sorts. This allows the RE to stand upright on any flat surface with the camera facing the user (for selfies) or any subject for that matter.
The longer end of the tube has a cork-screw type cap that conceals the microSD card slot and the microUSB port for charging. The cap prevents water from seeping into the open ports making the entire device water-proof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes. HTC has an optional case that allows for longer submersion time and depth.
The polycarbonate body has a smooth, glossy finish with a metal ring around the lens barrel. The large silver circular camera shutter is placed around the posterior of the curve or neck. The placement allows for comfortable access when gripping the longer end of the barrel.
Another smaller button at the opposite side of the bend is dedicated for power and camera mode. One click on the shutter button takes still photos while two successive clicks activate video recording. The camera will go on standby after a while that it has not been used. There is a grip sensor that re-activates the camera automatically when you hold it.
The bottom end of the cap has a tripod screw to mount the device onto any standard tripod or monopod. This also serves as a pint of attachment to RE accessories and stationary mounts (like bars, bikes, etc). A wrist strap goes around the screw of the cap.
Features and Functionality.
The HTC RE takes both still images and videos. Stills have an ultra-wide field-of-view at 146-degrees but it does not have the much fish-eye effect as that of the GoPro.
Video recording maxes out at 30fps at 1080p resolution but can be set to take up to 60fps at 720p. You can connect the device to an Android or iOS smartphone via the RE app and use it as a remote view finder and remote control (connection is done via WiFi).
Images and videos can also be previewed on the app which allows you to select clips and stills to download/transfer into the smartphone’s internal storage. The settings of the RE can only be configured with the app so you’ll be dependent on it if you want to frequently tinker with the settings.
The standard screw at the bottom end allows you to mount the HTC Re to any tripod. HTC has released a few accessories for mounting the Re camera but it’s not anywhere close to the selection for GoPro.
The device has a grip sensor which wakes up the camera once you hold it and puts it into sleep when you let go (after 30 seconds). The built-in microphone picks up audio quite well although it will also pick up ambient noise.
There is no internal storage and all shots are stored into the microSD card (supports up to 128GB). A firmware update now allows the camera to livestream directly to YouTube. What’s lacking though is the ability to project the video to an external display via an micro-HDMI port.
The Re is water-proof right out of the box with an IP57 Rating which means up to 1 meter for 30 minutes but an additional casing will offer IP58 Rating which is up to 3 meters for 120 minutes.
The HTC Re is equipped with a 1/2.3-inch CMOS sensor made by Sony that has a 16-megapixel resolution. It is paired with a wide-angle lens with a f/2.8 aperture and up to 146-degree field of view but normal mode is just 100 degrees.
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The camera produces decent to good quality photos but nothing as impressive as a flagship smartphone like the Galaxy Note 4 or an Xperia Z3.
What you’re getting is a more versatile yet handy pocket camera that you can bring along practically anywhere. The ultra wide-angle shots and ability to take 120fps slow-mo video (at 720fps) are some of its compelling features.
Video is equally good but oftentimes the shots get mis-aligned. Fortunately, the Re app is able to straighten images and provides digital video stabilization.
Connectivity and Battery Life.
The Re camera has a built-in Bluetooth/WiFi connection for pairing and wirelessly transferring media from the camera to the smartphone using an app. Aside from that, there’s nothing else to rely on like an HDMI port perhaps.
The built-in Li-Ion battery can be charged via the microUSB port. It has a non-removable battery so you don’t have an option to carry spare batteries when out on the field.
The battery charges in about 2 hours and will last close to 2 hours when continuously recording videos (the GoPro is slightly longer). That might be enough for casual users but can be frustrating with prolonged use as you’ll be forced to re-charge it several times a day if you’re really active.
With a price tag of $199, the HTC Re seems a bit expensive especially if you compare it against the $129 Go Pro Hero (Amazon has listings of the HTC RE down at $149).
Nevertheless, it’s a fun, nice-looking and easy to use action camera that deserves a second look (especially if you’re an HTC fan). One minor concern though is the lack of accessories, even a carrying case.
It has not been officially released in the Philippines but you can still grab one over at Lazada for about Php9,878 (see listing here).
HTC Re specs:
16MP, 1/2.3″ Sony CMOS sensor
Bluetooth v4.0 LE
microSD card slot
1080p, 30fps FHD video
720p, 4x slow motion video
Android 4.3, iOS compatible
IPX7 water resistance
66.5 grams (weight)
What we liked about it:
* Unique yet beautiful design
* Fun and easy to use
* Quite affordable
* Good companion app
* Comes with 8GB microSD card
* Color options
What we did not like:
* Non-removable battery
* Lacks accessories
* Unimpressive image quality
* Disappointing battery life