RED shoots for the stars with the Hydrogen One handset

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.

Comments closed
    • Rakhmaninov3
    • 2 years ago

    Announcing the RED Fur-E !!!!

    • tipoo
    • 2 years ago

    Funny enough – no mention of a good camera in their marketing, heh.

    Probably for the same reason camera maker – phone maker collaborations only produce marketing results rather than better cameras, in the phone space everyone is bound by sensor size and heat and it’s harder to get dramatically better than everyone else.

    • Redocbew
    • 2 years ago

    Here I was thinking we had another Note 7 happen and some phone had been marked Retired, Extremely Dangerous.

    • DPete27
    • 2 years ago

    IIRC, my college roomate (7-8 years ago?) had a cell phone that could display and capture 3D images.

    • psuedonymous
    • 2 years ago

    My bet is on this going the exact same way as “Red Ray” disc format and the “Red Projector” scanning laser projector: both announced with ludicrous claims, both disappeared without mention when their supposed release dates rolled past.

    RED’s main claim to fame is advertising their sensors using the raw bayer-pattern resolution rather than the true RGB resolution (i.e. instead of counting 1 pixel as one R, G and B sensor site, they count each R, G or B as its own pixel). Marketing won out over technical understanding, and led to such sillyness as The Hobbit being filmed on sets decorated in lurid colours to gain sufficient dynamic range to compensate for the RED cameras poor colour sensitivity (if you just filmed normal sets and then jammed the ‘saturation’ slider up, you’d end up with banding as you only use a little clipped bit of the actual range).

      • Namarrgon
      • 2 years ago

      I mostly agree. While RED’s newer cameras remain popular with cinematographers for good reasons beyond just their breathless marketing, their track record isn’t exactly perfect. I also expect this phone to fall far short of the hyperbole, if it arrives at all.

      At best it sounds like a four-way parallax-barrier screen, capable of basic stereo 3D in portrait or landscape – probably similar to a Nintendo 3DS that you could tilt up & down or rotate. But who really knows. Maybe we’ll see one day, or not.

      • strangerguy
      • 2 years ago

      Consumers have already grown tired and wary of marketing gimmicks pulled year after year. Just look at how much hype was built for “world-changing” VR last year and yet the entire scene died without a whimper by the start of 2017.

        • psuedonymous
        • 2 years ago

        “and yet the entire scene died without a whimper by the start of 2017.”

        Your reality seems to have diverged from the one we are in. where this did not actually happen. Google released a [i<]proper[/i<] VR platform (Cardboard was garbage that long outlived its usefulness), Apple of all companies after a good decade of effective obsolescence suddenly decided that GPU performance was of some importance and jumped in, Sony have reached the first megaunit sales of PSVR, etc. More HMDs have been sold in 2017 alone than ever existed prior to 2016.

          • torquer
          • 2 years ago

          VR is still advancing, but for the vast, vast, vast majority of consumers it isn’t even as popular/desired/understood as 3D was on TVs. Unfortunately until theres a significant breakthrough with VR it is likely to follow the same path. AR will probably take off, though, as the number of applications and ease of use will likely trump anything VR can do.

          Remember that almost all VR still requires a silly looking and clunky headset. AR just requires a screen you already have (cell phone, tablet) or projection-ready surface like a car windshield.

          My guess is that AR will be the next big thing, not VR. But I could be wrong.

            • psuedonymous
            • 2 years ago

            [quote<] AR will probably take off, though, as the number of applications and ease of use will likely trump anything VR can do.[/quote<] AR today is in the state VR was in in the 90's boom period: we have the technology available to figure out what we need to do to achieve useful AR, but we are not close to the technology needed to implement it. Take tracking, for example: - For VR, you need to fool the human brain by stating inside the 20ms motion-photon loop, successfully tracking, rendering and displaying an updated image within 20ms. - For AR, you need to do that entire loop faster than the eye can process the [i<]real world[/i<], ideally doing so during the saccade blanking period of a few microseconds. AR looks like it;s an easy case of "just do VR with see-through screens!" but in reality it's a few orders of magnitude harder problem. [quote<] AR just requires a screen you already have (cell phone, tablet) or projection-ready surface like a car windshield.[/quote<]'Windowed' AR with a hand-held screen is not anything new, it's been available for consumers for nearly as long as smartphones as a platform have, and for industrial applications for decades before then. It's never going to take off i na big way, because there are few if any use-cases where holding a screen in front of you face is something [i<]anybody wants to do[/i<].

      • tipoo
      • 2 years ago

      So you’re telling me they’re Pentile’ing resolution counts? Except 1:3 instead of 1:2/3rds?

        • psuedonymous
        • 2 years ago

        Yup. Your mobile phone cameras do it too, and likely many of your point-and-shoot cameras (barring things like the Foveon stacked sensors).

    • kvndoom
    • 2 years ago

    So, should we call this the Monster phone, then? Or maybe Dyson?

    Unless they can promise (and deliver!) OS and security updates for at least 2 years, it’s just another quickly-outdated Android phone which happens to have an awesome camera.

    • kamikaziechameleon
    • 2 years ago

    yeah, this press release might be to drum up some capital because if it needs to be experienced why not do a real press demo or hands on with it to create interest.

    not sold this is anything significant.

    • ch┬Áck
    • 2 years ago

    [quote<]sounds a lot like company like Dolby's Headphone:X.[/quote<] ? Looks like a well built device. Will be exciting to know more once it comes out, especially it's camera prowess.

      • dpaus
      • 2 years ago

      and…

      ‘The company says it can’t guarantee that price will hold after the first batch, not does it promise’

      ‘nor’, I presume.

      This looks like a highly specialized media device for a field with frighteningly little media to offer. No ‘killer app’ in sight…

      • morphine
      • 2 years ago

      Thanks for the heads-up. Been a tiring week, fixed.

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