The scoop: Galaxy Camera, by Samsung, about $550 (with month-to-month data service)
What is it? The Galaxy Camera is a melding of an Android smart device (minus the phone) and a digital camera. When combined, the camera is network-enabled (via Wi-Fi or a 4G LTE connection from either AT&T or Verizon), giving users the ability to immediately upload and share their photos and videos without needing to upload them to a separate computer.
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On the camera side, the Galaxy Camera features 16 megapixel imaging, a 21x optical zoom, a 23-millimeter-wide zoom lens and 1080p-recording camcorder. Additional features include image stabilization, specific modes (like macro, landscape, nighttime, etc.) and the ability to control camera features with the Samsung S Voice app. The camera features 8GB of internal memory and up to 64GB via microSD memory card.
On the Android side, the Galaxy Camera features the 4.1 Jelly Bean OS, with the ability to check email, download apps and do everything you'd do with an Android smartphone or tablet (again, except make phone calls).
Why it's cool: The camera seems to answer the question/statement, "If only my smartphone could take better photos!" The camera part of this device is incredibly impressive, and should dwarf anything you can produce via your current smartphone (it will certainly generate oohs and aahs from friends or co-workers when the zoom lens pops out). The Wi-Fi (you can also use this as a mobile hotspot) and 4G network connections give users the quick ability to share their photos -- whether it's uploading to Flickr, Picasa, Facebook or other social sites. For people who need to quickly send things to the Internet without heading to a PC, this is a nice benefit.
In my tests, I was able to use the Galaxy Camera to take photos and shoot videos at a trade show without needing to carry a much larger and bulkier camcorder, although it's only an advantage in quieter rooms/areas -- the microphone on the Galaxy Camera is still inferior to XLR-connected camcorders.
Some caveats: Transferring data to my computer (a MacBook Pro) was more difficult than with my Sony camcorder -- the Galaxy Camera couldn't import directly into iMovie, but rather required a separate Samsung app (Kies) for data transfer. I didn't have a microSD card, so the camera's internal memory filled up quickly with video files, limiting its usefulness. While a network connection may be useful for transmitting photos, the limitations of Wi-Fi and data usage caps of 4G service make video transfer a concern.
The combination of smartphone (sans phone) and digital camera is a nice idea, but you may feel that separate smaller phones/cameras may be more useful, unless you're really aching for a portable camera with a network connection that also lets you play Angry Birds Star Wars.
Grade: 3.5 stars (out of five)
Shaw can be reached at email@example.com. Follow him on Twitter: @shawkeith.
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