Desire Eye and RE Camera: HTC goes all in with mobile photography

HTC believes the future is images. On Wednesday, HTC introduced a new line of products aimed at mobile photography. HTC introduced a new standalone camera, a smart phone with enhanced cameras, and mobile photo-editing software.

Eduardo Munoz/Reuters/File
The new HTC RE cameras are seen on display after their launch in New York October 8. The RE will be available later this month for $199.99.

HTC's future looks to be filled with photos. 

On Wednesday, HTC unveiled a new phone with an enhanced camera, a handheld camera, and two new mobile editing programs, creating a suite of products designed to reinvent mobile photography. 

The Desire Eye is HTC's new smart phone. It's a big phone (6 inches by 2.9 inches by 0.32 inches), much bigger than Apple's new iPhone 6. It has a 13-megapixel front camera, which HTC says makes it the best selfie phone. The Desire Eye has split capture abilities: it can take photos and video with both the front and back cameras. The Desire Eye is $199 with a two-year contract.

HTC also introduced the RE camera, which pairs with any Android or iOS smart phone for quick and easy photos. Though a lot like the GoPro camera, HTC says RE is for people who live normal lives.

The camera is small and has a minimalist design. It has a button in the front and on the back making photos easy to take. It has a 16 megapixel sensor, ultra wide angle fixed-focus lens (146-degrees), and can shoot video at 120 frames per second. The camera can take video in both 1080p and 720p, and can connect to phones through Wi-Fi. The camera is waterproof and can be submerged for 30 minutes.

HTC says the new device is easier to use than your smart phone. With its super-wide-angle lens there is no need to frame a shot, the camera can capture the whole scene for you. And with the RE, there is no need to stare at a screen, so you can enjoy what's going on without looking at it through a lens. It will be available in late-October in blue, teal, and white. 

"Combining incredible hardware with unrivalled software, HTC is reinventing the way we think about imaging. We are taking you out from behind the viewfinder and putting you back where you belong, at the heart of the action,” Peter Chou, HTC's CEO, wrote in a company blog post

Dan Seifert wrote in The Verge that the camera wasn't easy to use. "[A]fter using a pre-production version of the Re Camera, I'm not convinced that it's a better option than just using your smartphone to take pictures. On the units I tested, the [RE] Camera took too long to wake up from sleep, took too long to capture an image, and didn't match the image quality I can get from a good smartphone," he said. "The fixed focus lens means that anything taken in a close range tends to be out of focus, and the ultra wide-angle field of view can capture a lot of unwanted detritus that you might not want in your photo."

Along with the phone and camera, HTC unveiled two new photo-editing programs. EYE Experience is mobile imaging software that lets users edit photos on the fly. It has a video chat and conference call feature, which includes face tracking. The software allows for easy editing with the Crop-Me-In feature, which puts the user at the heart of the action. HTC EYE Experience's coolest feature is the Voice Selfie, which allows users to take a selfie by using the voice command "say cheese!" 

To go along with EYE Experience, HTC unveiled Zoe, a collaborative video-editing app, which lets users remix photos and videos from their phone. Zoe can create highlight reels that can be easily shared on social media. Zoe will be fully integrated with RE, which will automatically generate video highlights that are ready to share. Zoe is already out for Androids, and will be coming to iOS later this year.

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