Vancouver Sun

Shoot stills, video without a phone

HTC’s tiny new camera lets users record events without having to look at a screen or viewfinder


NEW YORK — Everywhere you look, people are using smartphone­s and tablets to snap pictures and record video of concerts, speeches or even their children’s ballet recitals — and instantly share the experience­s with friends and family. At many events, people aren’t even looking at the stage; they are watching through their screens.

HTC thinks there’s a better way — and they’re betting you won’t mind carrying around an extra device about the size of a small candy bar. With the new Re camera gripped discreetly in your hands, you can take stills and video while still experienci­ng the event directly — not through a screen or viewfinder.

No more annoying people behind you by blocking their views with your phone or tablet. ( In fact, no one may realize you’re recording at all. HTC says the Re will at least make a sound when you take a picture or start recording.)

The Re marks HTC’s effort to expand beyond smartphone­s. Its flagship HTC One smartphone earns high praise from users and tech reviewers but the company’s global market share is tiny compared with Apple’s and Samsung’s. According to IDC, HTC’s market share was less than two per cent in the second quarter, the latest period available.

How Do I Use It?

The camera, which will hit stores in about a month, resembles a miniature submarine periscope. It’s about 10 centimetre­s long; its diameter is about that of a quarter.

One quick press snaps a 16- megapixel still image, while a long press starts video recording at 1080p high definition. You can transfer images wirelessly to your phone or an online storage account.

Would- be filmmakers can attach the Re to tripods and other accessorie­s. The camera is waterproof, so you can leave it outside for time- lapse video. ( Apple added the timelapse feature to iPhones in its iOS 8 software update, but you can’t use your phone for other things while you take the video.)

How Much Does It Cost?

For $ 199 you get just eight gigabytes of storage, but you can add up to 128 gigabytes more with a microSD card.

Any Drawbacks?

There’s no display or viewfinder. You point the device toward the stage and hope you’re not cutting anyone off. You can use a companion smartphone app as a viewfinder, but that defeats the point of not needing to have your phone out while enjoying an event.

What Else Is Coming From HTC?

Next month HTC is launching a new mid- range smartphone called the Desire Eye. The phone’s front camera will match the 13 megapixels found on the rear, meaning sharper selfies and video conferenci­ng than what smartphone­s typically offer. The front camera also will use face detection to keep subjects in focus and permit voice commands such as “cheese!” to snap the shot. HTC plans to bring many of these features to its high- end HTC One devices, too, through free software updates.

The 5.2- inch Desire Eye will be available in early November through AT& T. No details on price yet.

HTC also is launching a free app for iPhones and non- HTC Android phones that lets users create a highlights video. Current HTC phones have a Zoe feature that automatica­lly grabs images taken on a given day and stitches them together into a video, complete with music.

The free app “allows us to get HTC in more people’s hands without having to make them do a smartphone change immediatel­y,” says Jason Mackenzie, president of HTC America. “So the next time that customer is buying a smartphone, they now have been introduced to HTC.”

 ??  ?? HTC’s Re camera looks like a miniature periscope and lets users transfer images wirelessly to a phone or online storage. It’s waterproof and can attach to a tripod, but has no viewfi nder or screen.
HTC’s Re camera looks like a miniature periscope and lets users transfer images wirelessly to a phone or online storage. It’s waterproof and can attach to a tripod, but has no viewfi nder or screen.

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