How HTC's new RE camera and Eye smartphone will compete

Breaking with its tradition of announcing smartphone hardware, HTC launched the RE handheld camera and the HTC Eye smartphone, that compares to the HTC One M8 like the iPhone 5C compares to the 5S.

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REUTERS/Eduardo Munoz

Along with the Zoe short automated video editor and cloud service, HTC launched the RE hand-held camera called this week. It is a small camera that looks like a submarine periscope, designed to turn on when the user grabs it, making it useful for capturing spontaneous videos and photos. It has a 16-MP camera and 146-degree field of view. The RE takes full 1080HD video and high-resolution images. It has a button to take slow-motion video. Android and iOS apps can be used as a viewfinder to control the RE. It is waterproof at 3 meters for 3 hours, but it can stand in up to 1 meter of water for 30 minutes if the end cap that covers the tripod mount and micro-USB port is removed.

The RE camera's time-lapsed videos can be setup and shared from an iOS or Android smartphone. Photos and videos can be backed up to the cloud through a smartphone or directly from the RE. HTC will introduce live RE broadcasting in a partnership with YouTube later this year. It supports a tripod mount for extended video recording. A few accessories were announced to mount or wear the RE camera, and were reviewed at Android Central.

See also: HTC wants you to edit videos and take better selfies

The HTC Eye smartphone was apparently built based on the HTC One, but as more of a platform to demonstrate its enhanced tools for taking selfies and face tracking technology, as well as Zoe, an automated short video editor. It’s a great phone, make no mistake about it. It has a slightly larger screen than the HTC One M8 and is housed in a polycarbonate plastic uni-body housing, which admittedly isn’t as striking as the beautifully machined metal HTC One M8. It also has fewer features. Most notably, it has 16GB of ROM compared to the optional 32GB on the HTC One and doesn’t have the One’s dual camera. It is waterproof in up to one meter of water for 30 minutes.

A side-by side comparison at Technobuffalo brings to mind the iPhone 5s and 5c. Perhaps the Eye will be a lower-cost option to the HTC One, like the iPhone 5C is to the 5S. The usual mobile carriers are supported, with the exclusion of Verizon Wireless. Verizon opted out of the Nexus 5 even though the internal radio hardware supports it. Perhaps the HTC Eye will be the new Nexus 6.

As usual, HTC delivered well-designed and engineered hardware. But the announcement was intended to create its first ecosystem around its software that uniquely enhances videos and photos for sharing on social media, thus broadcasting HTC's brand. The change in its traditional hero phone-centered announcements is likely a response to the challenges that all smartphone manufacturers face amid competition to differentiate their products and turn a profit.


Copyright © 2014 IDG Communications, Inc.

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