November 3, 2017
We spend so much time behind the camera viewfinders on our smartphones that we no longer truly see our subjects or the world around us. That’s the idea behind HTC’s weird new Re Camera.
A $199 mini camera, the oddly shaped Re is meant to keep you “in the moment” instead of gawking at a viewfinder. How does the company accomplish this goal? By simply removing the viewfinder from the equation, that’s how.
That’s right: The Re is a camera that lets you take pictures without knowing how they’ll turn out. Keeping you in the moment while taking photos is an intriguing idea — comedian Louis C.K. touched on a similar thought during one of his standup acts.
Unfortunately, its price and photo quality leave much to be desired.
The Re certainly looks interesting. It reminds me of the one-eyed garbage monster from Star Wars. Or, you know, a submarine’s periscope. Or an inhaler.
The 2.3-ounce camera is surprisingly comfortable to hold thanks to its unique design. It also, as my colleague Alyssa Bereznak observed, happens to look like a detonator a James Bond villain would use to blow up a bridge.
The Re is extremely functional, though, as the front portion where you rest your fingers features a sensor that detects when you’re holding the camera and prepares it to take a picture. No more having to open and wait for your camera app to load. Just pick up the Re and start shooting photos.
Up front, the Re gets a 146-degree wide-angle lens that can take either standard or warped, fisheye-style photos. You can adjust how your photos look in the Re smartphone app, but I’ll get to that in a second.
Because it’s made of plastic, the Re can’t be tortured like, say, a GoPro can, but it can withstand being submerged in up to 3 feet of water for 30 minutes without issue.
The Re is not dust- or sand-proof, though. Taking it to the beach is basically out of the question.OK, so it’s shaped weirdly and you can’t see what you’re taking pictures of. Here’s what it’s like to use.