HTC is certainly taking the camera game seriously, by not only upping the ante with the Desire Eye, a high-end smartphone with a unique front-facing camera setup, but by introducing a standalone action camera to take on the likes of GoPro. Rumors of such a device have been making the rounds for while, and have finally come to fruition at today’s HTC Double Exposure event in New York. We go hands on, and give you our first impressions of the HTC Re!

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The HTC Re comes with a unique periscope-like design, and is compact and extremely light, making it very easy to pick up and snap pictures quickly. Holding the device enables a grip sensor, automatically turning it on, and all you need to do is press the shutter button to take a picture, or press and hold for a few seconds to start recording video. And that’s really all there is to it. The shutter button that is located along the top of the device has an LED indicator that flashes red when you take a picture, stays on while recording video, and flashes blue when slow motion video is activated. Activating slow mo video is done by pressing a tactile button below the camera sensor on the stem of the device.

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On the hardware front, the Re features a 16MP shooter with a 1/2.3” CMOS sensor with a 146 degree ultra wide angle lens and f/2.8 aperture. The camera is also capable of shooting 1080p video at 30 fps, 720p slow motion capture, along with time-lapse video recording. There’s no in-built storage, but the device comes with a free 8 GB microSD card, which can be replaced by one up to 128 GB. An 820 mAh battery officially allows for capturing around 1200 pictures, or 40 minutes of FHD recording on a single charge, but a more detailed review will be required to verify these claims. That said, battery life likely won’t be a concern with a device like this. Remaining battery life is indicated through a single LED light, that is green when the battery life is above 25%, and turns orange when it falls below that threshold.

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All the hardware is protected from the elements, with the Re coming with a IP57 rating, or IP58 with a cap that is sold separately, for resistance against dust and water. Out of the box, the device can be submerged in up to 1 metre of water for as long as 30 minutes, with the protective cap extending the limits to 3 metres of water and 2 hours.

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The Re app that will be available on Android smartphones, and coming soon to iOS devices, further extends the capabilities of the HTC Re. For starters, you can easily sync all your images and videos to the smartphone, allowing you instantly post to social media, or backup to cloud services such as DropBox and Google Drive, through the app. You can also control Re via the app, using it as a viewfinder to mirror what the camera is seeing.

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A slew of accessories are also available to help you get the most out of the Re and capture images and video in various situations. For when you’re on the move, you have a clip-on mount, a suction mount, and bicycle bar mount. If battery life is a concern, you get a vertical charging stand that you can use for charging the device overnight, or if you plan to shoot any time-lapse videos, and an extended battery that connects to the device and enhances the battery life by 4.5 times. Charging needs are covered by a AC wall charging adapter and a dual port car charging adapter. Finally, there is the protection pack, that includes the cap that increases its waterproof capabilities, a lens cap, along with wrist and neck lanyards.

So there you have it – a first look at the HTC Re! While the concept of an action camera isn’t new, the HTC Re packs everything into a compact form factor, and offers just the right amount of features and capabilities to make it interesting. The ease of use, not only in terms of capturing images and videos, but also when it comes to backup and social media sharing, is a big plus, and the fact that it isn’t tied down to a particular smartphone, or even ecosystem, should help its cause.

What do you think of the HTC Re? Is it something you might use often? Are you going to consider picking one up? Let us know in the comments section below!

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