Hong Kong's Muku Labs has launched a Kickstater campaign for its news gadget, the success of which suggests there's a thirst for remote camera shutter controls for iPhone and Android handsets. Gizmag goes hands on with a pre-production prototype of the thin and compact Shuttr to see whether the excitement is justified.
The first thing you notice about the Shuttr is that it's small, just 61 x 26 x 6 mm (2.4 x 1 x 0.2 in) in size and weighing only 10 g (0.4 oz). This is good news, designed as it is to work with smartphone cameras. There's every chance that, if you're already relying on your smartphone as your day-to-day camera, then portability is a major concern. You really won't notice the Shuttr if you pocket it alongside your smartphone.
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Impressively, for many phones the Shutter doesn't even need an app to work. For the iPhone, the Shuttr's shutter release button maps to the volume-up button on the iPhone, which, dedicated iPhone photographers will know, doubles as the iPhone's Shuttr release when in the camera app. Shuttr duplicates this functionality, though this does mean you're liable to raise your iPhone's volume if the camera isn't the active app. Shuttr works with iPhones 3GS and later, iPod touches from the fifth gen on, and all iPads since iPad 2.
News is fairly positive on the Android front, too. Shuttr will work just fine, without an app, with the Samsung Galaxy S3 and S4, Galaxy Notes 2, 8 and 10.01, and the LG Nexus 4. An app is required for the latest HTC One and One X+, as well as Sony's Experia S and Z. After that, though, Muku Labs doesn't recommend chancing your arm on a Shuttr if you only have other Android handsets to hand.
How does the Shuttr fare in use? Very well, in fact – particularly when it comes to its raison d'être, the selfie. Though front-facing cameras have made selfies – photographs of yourself, often with friends, family, pets, Justin Bieber etc. – easier to take, but they're still tricky things. You're limited to taking from arm's length, which in turn restricts who and what you can fit into the frame.
Shuttr, on the other hand, works at up to a range of 10 m (about 30 ft) – sufficient to fit in second cousins (though you may need a pair of binoculars to see your phone's screen, or frame the shot in advance.) The Shuttr is paired to your phone via Bluetooth and doesn't require a direct line of sight to work.
It doesn't have to be all about selfies: having a Shuttr would be a good excuse to try some of the long exposure apps on the app store which require your phone to be kept absolutely still, for example.
Overall, the build quality of the thing is excellent. Though slim, the Shuttr prototype Gizmag tested was perfectly sturdy, with a shallow but satisfying click when depressed. If you ever sported an old school iPod, the sensation is not dissimilar to pressing the center button inside the click wheel.
Pairing the Shuttr is basically as simple as turning it on by sliding the protruding switch on one side. A similar switch on the other edge, but nearly flush with it, toggles between iPhone and Android modes.
My one minor criticism is reserved for the rubber stand that comes with it. This has a suction cup designed to stick, leech-like, to the back of your phone while you take a picture. Angle of elevation can be adjusted by moving the sucker, and it works perfectly well. However, Gizmag found that the suction cup was torn in transit (when carried, otherwise unprotected, in a backpack). It doesn't stop it from sticking yet, but it's probably best to handle with care if you're not intending to use the Shuttr with a superior tripod or stand.
Overall, though, Shuttr's a great little device, and if you're either a selfie addict or dedicated smartphone photographer, you'll almost certainly get your money's worth.
With 16 days to go on the Kickstarter campaign it's still possible to pre-order a Shuttr for US$29 for October shipping (or November, if they run out). Those desperate to get their hands on the device can stump up $39 for a September shipment.
The campaign video is below.