HTC has announced two new products in its lineup that will position the company closer to its newfound focus on imaging with the Desire Eye smartphone and the RE action camera, which marks HTC’s first attempt at entering the wildly popular product segment dominated by GoPro.
To begin, the Desire Eye is HTC’s latest Desire smartphone and in a major departure from the mid-range line by featuring flagship specifications such as 13-megapixel cameras on both the front and back with dual-LED flashes. New EYE software also enhances the cameras with several new modes for taking selfies that HTC will also push to existing models in its smartphone line. The Desire EYE’s high-end specs include a Snapdragon 801 processor with 2GB of RAM and 5.2-inch, full-HD display.
The two-tone unibody plastic shell has a smooth matte finish and comes in either white/red and navy/blue that is waterproof up to 1 meter for 30 minutes while the headset and micro-USB jacks are open, and the SIM and memory cards fit into trays with rubber gaskets. The body also features a dedicated camera button and hidden front-facing HTC BoomSound stereo speakers. The camera software can also automatically capture selfies when the user smiles or simply holds still and also responds to voice commands to snap photos and videos.
A dual-camera mode lets users capture using both the front and back camera in one photo, either at the same time or one and then the other to get better angles. Another mode will automatically cut out the selfie background and insert the face into the scene in front of you, ostensibly to make shooting selfies in front of landmarks easier.
New video conferencing features also track and crop up to four faces at once or allow screen-sharing. The aforementioned features also work at a low driver level to work with most third-party software regardless of the app. The Desire EYE will initially be exclusive to AT&T in the U.S and the unlocked version is expected to be priced around ~$450 when released later this year. AT&T has yet to confirm pricing for the phone.
HTC is also taking steps outside of its core smartphone business with the RE action camera. The camera is a small standalone camera that connects to any Android or iOS device. Roughly the size and shape of an inhaler as demonstrated above, the waterproof body sports a simple button interface with a capture button pressed to snap a still image, and held down to record video. It turns on automatically when the bodyis gripped or touched.
The 16-megapixel Sony Exmor sensor is paired with an ultra-wide 146-degree lens that captures everything in front of it compared to other cameras in its class as well as smartphone cameras. It also records 1080p HD video with a secondary slow motion feature at 720p via a small second button. It charges via micro-USB and supports USB mass storage for file transfer and also has a microSD slot and is preinstalled with an 8 GB memory card. It also mounts to any standard camera tripod and pairs with the dedicated smartphone app via Wi-Fi Direct.
The companion app can browse/download photos and videos taken with the camera and the app is also used to configure various settings, can be used as a remote live viewfinder, and controls a configurable time-lapse mode. It also includes one-touch correction for the “fisheye effect” from the wide-angle lens. Optional accessories include a bike mount, lanyard, and deep underwater case, shown above. A future firmware update will also enable live broadcasting via YouTube. Available colors include white, teal, navy, and coral. It will go on sale at Best Buy by the end of October for $199.99.