With its high price, outdated specs, lacklustre holographic screen, and absent mod support, Red’s Hydrogen One may have been the biggest smartphone flop of 2018. However, on the last day of the year, Red teased that something could be coming in 2019 that could potentially redeem the over-hyped handset.
Designed to work in tandem with the Hydrogen One, the Lithium is reportedly a 3D camera featuring dual digital cinema sensors and built-in zoom lenses, and according to Holland, it “is one of the most compact and flexible ways to shoot high quality stereoscopic motion pictures ever.”
Based on his most recent info, Holland says the camera only weighs about 2.7 kg (sans battery), which presents a significant weight savings compared to traditional 3D cameras. But the Lithium’s biggest selling point is that by hooking it up to Hydrogen One, users should be able to view and possibly edit H4V content (the proprietary file type used to display 3D/holographic images on the Hydrogen One) in real time, without needing to first send the footage to another monitor or computer.
The Lithium camera sounds like a good first step towards helping the Hydrogen One reach its original goal of being a unique and immersive 3D media machine, but it also spurs more questions.
Price and release date aside, the biggest head scratcher is why in Red’s teaser photo the Lithium seemingly doesn’t use the pogo pin connectors on the back of the Hydrogen One to interface with the phone. That connector was supposed to be how users could “attach a cinema grade camera module” to the Hydrogen in order to bring added value to people already invested Red’s ecosystem. Even now, one of the Hydrogen One’s main taglines on its website is “Modules that matter.” But if the Lithium doesn’t work like that, it makes you wonder what’s the deal with one of the Hydrogen One’s most important design features.
Another important question is how well H4V content will translate to other 3D formats. Based on the H4V photos and videos we’ve viewed on the Hydrogen One’s “holographic screen,” many Gizmodo staffers weren’t all that impressed with the phone’s 3D tech, so it’ll be interesting to see how high-quality H4V media ends up looking in a movie theatre or on a 3D-capable desktop monitor or home setup.
While my experience so far with the Hydrogen One hasn’t progressed much past the point of novelty, it’s hard to be too pessimistic about the Lithium camera. Big, expensive cameras are much more in line with Red’s traditional area of expertise than smartphones, so maybe this thing has a chance. We’re expecting to hear more about the Lithium later this year.