RED shoots for the stars with the Hydrogen One handset


— 9:05 AM on July 7, 2017

RED isn't exactly a household name, but you've seen the company's work. The camera-maker's products have been used to film movies like Peter Jackson's Hobbit trilogy, Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2, and Prometheus. For many tech fans, the company's name mostly comes up when YouTubers like MKBHD and LinusTechTips talk up the company's wildly-expensive, reference-grade digital video cameras. Now, the company is working on the Hydrogen One, a phone that will bring to bear the two things the company is known best for: high-end imaging and eye-watering price tags.

At its core, the Hydrogen One is a powerful, unlocked Android phone that the company is calling the first "holographic media machine." The handset will use a 5.7" display that RED says uses nanotechnology to act as a holographic display, capable of displaying 2D and 3D content as well as "holographic multi-view content" originating from RED Hydrogen 4-View (H4V) files. RED claims that the screen can also display virtual and augmented reality content. When it comes to audio, the Hydrogen One will include support for H3O, a proprietary algorithm that purports to expand stereo sound into 5.1 surround for headphones—something that sounds a lot like Dolby's Headphone:X.

The phone should also offer a degree of modularity, in a similar fashion to the the company's existing product set. RED says the handset "incorporates a new high-speed data bus to enable a comprehensive and ever-expanding modular component system," including high-quality camera attachments capable of shooting holographic images. The phone should also be able to act as a control base and monitor for RED's existing cameras.

Actual specifications for the phone are a little light, to say the least. We know that it'll have a USB Type-C port and an expandable MicroSD card slot. Yeah, that's about it.

If the company didn't enjoy the reputation it has in the film and tech communities for making reliable, top-end technology, this announcement might be a little laughable, given that a lot of the description sounds pretty fantastical. The company is asking for over a grand for the phone, but if it can actually deliver on the promises, the price might turn out to be a steal. However, RED hasn't talked about how the H4V files are captured, how they work, or what they'll even look like. We don't know what sort of chip will power the phone, nor how much RAM it's expected to have inside.

The Hydrogen One starts at $1,195 for the aluminum version, and jumps up to $1,595 for a model with a titanium case. The company says it can't guarantee that price will hold after the first batch, nor does it promise that it'll fulfill orders in a timely manner after that run. The handset is set to ship in the first quarter of 2018, and is available for pre-order through RED's website now.

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