HTC isn't the first company you think of when you think about cameras. But they would very much like to be, and to that end, they've announced the HTC RE. As expected, this is a wireless "sports camera," along the same lines as products from GoPro, Sony, and any number would-be competitors.
The most striking thing about the RE is its design. The small 96.7x26.5mm camera is shaped roughly like a periscope (or an inhaler), allegedly for a better grip. The camera has extra sensors around the grip point, instantly turning it on when you hold it. HTC is so confident in this unusual design choice that they've actually omitted a power button. A single shutter button handles both 16-megapixel still shots and 1080p videos - tap once for a photo, hold for video. Like some of the competition, the RE is IP57 waterproof even without a case, and uses a wide-angle 146-degree lens. A periscope-style viewfinder is mounted on the bend of the body.
Inside you'll find (or not find, it's not as if you can open it up) Bluetooth and WiFi for syncing photos and videos either directly to the web or to HTC's Zoe application on your phone. There will also be a RE-specific app available for Android and iOS devices with sharing, basic editing, and advanced features like time-lapse and (at some point) live broadcasting on YouTube. Remote control via phones will be available, as will an RE API for integration with other apps and services. The RE comes with a bargain 8GB MicroSD card in its slot, but you can add one all the way up to 128GB for taking photos and videos without an active connection. The 920mAh battery, recharged via a standard MicroUSB cable, should last for 1200 photos or 100 minutes of video.
HTC is planning on releasing the RE in four colors in the US on its own website and at Best Buy at an unconfirmed date. Amazon, AT&T, T-Mobile, and Verizon will get it "in time for the holidays." A international release is planned, but not detailed. The base price will be $199.99. A variety of accessories, including mounts and cases, will be available as well, though you can use the RE with a standard camera tripod connection.
The HTC RE is an odd product for a company that hasn't made any stand-alone cameras up to this point. In conjunction with the Desire EYE and its double 13MP cameras, the company is trying to earn a spot on the elite photo shelf along with Sony and Apple. We'll see if their efforts pay off later this year.