We had a chance to spend some quality time with the HTC RE Camera, which HTC just introduced during its global press event in New York City. The gist of the product is this: it’s a portable camera with a 16-megapixel sensor that can snap photos, record 1080p video or 720p 4x slow-motion video and even record time lapse videos. Sound cool? It is.

HTC told me that the goal of the HTC RE isn’t to take on the GoPro, a company it doesn’t want to compete with, but rather to create a camera that’s much easier to use and for casual everyday life — even though it’s water resistant. The goal, HTC said, is to allow people to enjoy and experience events, while also snapping photos and recording them, but without a smartphone taking up their field of view. If you’ve ever found that you’re missing the concert because you’ve spent most of the time trying to record it, you can see the target market HTC wants to attract.

The RE Camera is a fantastic little device, but I think it’s a little expensive at $200. The photos are great but still aren’t leaps and bounds above what I could snap with a smartphone camera. Still , I love its ease of use. There’s one major button that can snap photos with a single press or videos with a long press. Or, if you wish, you can toggle slo-mo video using a secondary small button.

I had a chance to take it for a spin during a helicopter ride around Manhattan, which HTC sponsored, and found that it was super easy to just tap the trigger and take photos without missing the view. My only fear was that the RE wasn’t going to focus properly or that it wasn’t snapping photos. Thankfully, you can also watch the photos come in on your phone in real time, since the RE connects to an iOS or Android device using an HTC-built application. You don’t need the connection, however, as the HTC RE ships with an 8GB microSD card for local storage, too. Or you can swap that out with up to a 128GB microSD card if you’re filming lots of content.

The form factor is great. It’s about the size of an inhaler one with asthma might use. It easily slides into a pocket, though I found that accidentally activated the device for pocket photos and videos more than I would have liked, and it’s very easy to grip and hold with a single hand.

I think the RE Camera is a compelling device, but at $199 it might be a little bit of a turn-off for some folks. HTC is targeting parents who want to record their kids during soccer games, which is probably a smart target segment. Other more extreme folks are probably better served by the GoPro, and HTC knows that. I can’t wait to play with the HTC RE more to build my final opinion.

Check out some sample shots I shot below.

HTC Re Images

HTC Re