|Review: Samsung Galaxy Camera breaks new ground in old product line||
The ubiquitous cellphone and its integrated camera supposedly marked the demise of the stand-alone, digital point-and-shoot.
Samsung Electronics, in its new role as technology disruptor, must have missed the memo.
And it's a good thing.
Best recognized among consumers these days as the creator of the anti-iPhone — the Samsung Galaxy S III — the company's recently launched Galaxy Camera may revive, or at least redefine, a battered product line.
It is a beautiful piece of gadgetry — a smooth, virtually all-white body complemented with a 21X optical zoom lens and a massive, 4.8-inch HD touchscreen display.
The internals are equally impressive. Jelly Bean, the latest Android mobile operating software, runs silky smooth thanks to a quad-core processor, which offers twice the computing power of the dual-core chip found in most newer smartphones.
WiFi and Bluetooth capability and a SIM card slot for mobile network access make it extremely easy to snap and share. During a week of testing, I never had to remove a microSD card or connect a USB cord to transfer photos or videos to a computer. I tweeted and e-mailed images, and uploaded them to the cloud via SkyDrive, directly from the device.
While WiFi-enabled digital cameras are not new, the Galaxy Camera is among the first Android-powered smart cameras that truly function like a smartphone, minus the ability to make a phone call.
The device has access to the Google Play store and the full array of Android apps and games. You can text via Google Voice, update your Facebook status, play Fruit Ninja or surf the Web. It may feel awkward at first performing those tasks on a point-and-shoot
Of course, the top selling point is the fact that it can serve as your go-to device for taking photos during all occasions, not just for random shots where a smartphone's 8-megapixel camera would suffice. It is a full-featured, well-built camera that I would be comfortable with using at a Denver Broncos game or for family photos.
The Galaxy Camera features a 16-megapixel BSI CMOS sensor, a pop-up flash and the aforementioned 21X optical zoom. The well-built package produces sharp, high-quality images up close and far away, in good lighting outdoors and low-light conditions indoors.
On the software side
On the software side, it's packed with a multitude of shooting modes and options, such as "best face" capture and panorama. In expert mode, you can manually adjust aperture and shutter settings.
You can preview camera filters, such as comic and impressionist, before snapping. The camera records 1080p video and, like the latest smartphones, allows users to snap still images while in recording mode.
Video- and photo-editing software is included, offering standard edits such as cropping images or adding themes to videos. The quad-core 1 GHz computer chip allows for smooth shooting and editing of images and clips.
The Galaxy Camera costs $500, steep for a point-and-shoot, but not unexpected for a device that redefines a declining product. Remember, the first iPhone carried the same price tag five years ago for the lowest end modelwith a two-year wireless contract.
The camera has 8 GB of internal memory, though only 4 GB is free for storage of user files. It also has a microSD slot for external storage.
AT&T currently is the only U.S. carrier offering the camera, with shared data plans starting at $10 a month (no long-term contract required). Reports indicate a Verizon LTE version is in the works.
Ultimately, like smartphones, the Galaxy Camera and other smart cameras may need to be subsidized by carriers to gain wider adoption. As it is, the device would be a great option if you are in the market for an advanced digital camera but aren't quite ready for a digital SLR camera.
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