Earlier this week, HTC announced a product that wasn’t a smartphone for once, which is important when talking about a company that made a name for themselves before the iPhone or Android were things people were talking about, by making phones for the likes of HP and others. Fast forward to today and we have an HTC that sadly isn’t doing all that well, after suffering loss after loss and seeing their business to shrink to a shadow of its former self. While HTC still makes great products, like the HTC One M8, it’s clear that the company needs something else to get people talking about the brand again. The Taiwanese firm is hoping that the Re, an always-on camera designed to help you enjoy the moment a little more is going to do just that. Does the Re have what it takes, or is it just something that’s too expensive and unnecessary in an age where people’s smartphones are their cameras?
I enjoy taking photos, I don’t however, enjoy sharing them at least not online. I’ve tried the whole Flickr thing before, but I quickly realized that for me, photography is an escape and well, escaping on your own presents you with far less trouble. I grew up using 35mm film cameras and what was so exciting for me was that you wouldn’t ever know what you were going to get until you developed that little canister. Sure, the convenience of being able to review and retake right at any given moment is great, but there are no surprises any more. There’s a reason Lomography has become so popular over the last few years; it’s unexpected and the results you get might not ever be the same and there’s very little control over your shots. This is what has me interested in the Re camera, the idea that you don’t know what you’ve got until you connect it to your phone and take a look. Obviously, you can do this right after you’ve taken the shot to take one again, but that’s sort of missing the point.
The idea of the Re is to enjoy life’s adventures a little more, to enjoy those moments by being in them a little more than if you were staring at your phone or camera taking as many photos as you can. It seems to me that the act of taking and sharing photos has become more of a reason to get out there and see new things, than actually enjoying these experiences in the first place. This isn’t true of everyone, but how many times have you stared at something through a smartphone or a viewfinder, rather than simply take it all in? With the Re you can just hold the little periscope in one hand by your side and take some video, while also enjoying the game or concert or whatever with your own eyes. While I’m not so sure that HTC have their accessory design right or the Re, I’d rather use the Re to capture footage or photos than get my phone out of my pocket every 10 minutes. I’m aware that if HTC have their way, people will be sneakily taking snaps of people with the Re from the hip and so on, but there will always be people that just want to watch the world burn now, won’t there?
Taking a photo with the Re is super-simple and because it’s so light and easy to handle, you can just point, click, move on. You can sneak the Re into all sorts of nooks and crannies to get a shot you wouldn’t risk with that fancy phone or you couldn’t get with that bulky dSLR, and if you don’t look at your phone for the next few hours, you could come across photos you never knew you took, and find some of the best shots you’ve ever taken. Of course, that’s what HTC is hoping and I’m interested to spend some quality time with the Re. It’s been such a long time since we actually had to think about what we want to take a picture of that the Re might inspire us to think outside of the box and just have fun taking photos again, rather than always thinking about how many clicks and shares it’s going to get.
No matter how interesting the Re is, or how cool it looks to people, it’s not quite worth $200. Or at least, I can’t think of many people rushing out to purchase yet another camera when their point and shoot or their smartphone works just great, let alone many people willing to pay $200 for the privilege. $149 seems more reasonable, and would work towards impulse buy territory, but if HTC want people to pick up the Re at all, they’re going to need to learn how to market it successfully, something they haven’t managed with their smartphones.