An Action Camera for the Rest of Us

 Credit HTC

HTC gets that some guys don’t want to invest in a new GoPro and all its accessories, or that they’re simply not going to record pro-level adventure videos all the time. The company offers a new approach with its stylish and simple RE action cam that fits in your hand and connects to your smartphone, with enough high-end functionality and a water-resistant design to compete with other stand-alone models. It’s everything you need for recording wide-angle video on the spot, without strapping a brick of a camera to your forehead and riding down a mountain.

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The 16-megapixel RE camera is about the size of a roll of quarters, and it has a subtle periscope curve that aims the lens ahead of your fist. And it’s easy to use: A single tap of the back button takes a photo, and holding it down records HD video; pressing a front button initiates a slow-motion video mode. Even easier, playback streams to your phone through either an Android or iPhone app. You can also control the camera wirelessly from your phone, so setting it up on a tripod and taking photos from a distance is simple. It holds a micro-SD card for hours of video, and from our tests, records video for up to two hours on a full charge.

For GoPro fans, you can purchase a few mounts for the RE, including a holster and a tripod, which are already available. Plus, the RE has a 146-degree angle lens (GoPro’s is 170). We even watched a unit record video and broadcast it to a nearby screen after being dropped to the bottom of a fish tank (the RE can withstand up to a meter of water). Though it’s built for taking a beating, we expect the best uses of the RE will be for spontaneous moments, quick cuts, and uploads of everyday occurrences, including, yes, the occasional concert. But at least when you’re the one recording that encore, it’ll just look like you’re waving your hand in the air — or, at least, waving anything but a bright screen. HTC is delivering the camera in time for the holidays, but you can pre-order it now. [$200;]