Samsung Galaxy Camera (EK-GC100) Review
Samsung's latest experiment is the first camera to support both Android and 4G mobile broadband.
Samsung’s Galaxy Camera is really the ultimate expression of a trend that’s been growing all year long: wireless connectivity. Many manufacturers brought WiFi to their entry-level and even intermediate cameras in 2012, presumably to entice social media fans / addicts who want to share their content immediately, a segment of the consumer base that’s probably larger than we’d like to admit. We’ve been pretty critical of this effort for two reasons: WiFi isn’t any faster than simply popping in your memory card, and the feature is still restricted to hotspots.
The Galaxy Camera blows both of these criticisms out of the water. The camera’s WiFi adapter is the fastest in-camera solution we’ve ever used, and is capable of delivering your photos to Facebook or wherever their final destination happens to be in a matter of seconds. Of course that’s not all: built-in 4G mobile broadband finally unlocks photo sharing from the field, and it’s just as quick as WiFi. Let’s say you’re on vacation in Disney World, taking the requisite shots in front of Cinderella’s Castle. Your family and friends at home could be viewing those photos less than a minute after you took them. In fact, we’re surprised professional cameras are still using external adapters, think of the convenience for photojournalists on location.
As if that weren’t enough, the camera’s other marquee feature is Android OS 4.1 or “Jelly Bean.” This is a full-featured, smartphone-grade operating system, fully compatible with the entire library of Android apps. Yes, you can play Angry Birds on your camera. But you can also check your e-mail, browse the Internet, use a photo editing app (Instagram is pre-installed), or do anything else you would on a smartphone except make calls. Even then, there’s always Skype.
All that being said, the Galaxy Camera’s greatest innovations become its greatest weaknesses if you’re not into the whole photo-sharing-always-connected-Instagram-Facebook thing. In that case, the Galaxy Camera would be a pretty bad deal. Based on our image quality test results, the Galaxy Camera’s performance seems roughly equivalent to Samsung’s own WB850F. It’s a respectable travel zoom camera, but one that carries an MSRP of only $329.99. So a little simple math reveals you’re paying about $170 for all those awesome connectivity features, and that’s before a 4G data plan.
There are other problems too. While the huge rear LCD is gorgeous, it begets an all-touch user interface that’s slower and less precise than good ol’ buttons. Most of our frustrations surrounding this camera aren’t due to image quality, but from a desire to get the camera to do what we want, when we want, before the decisive moment is over. You should also be aware this camera is much larger than it looks in pictures, and doesn’t quite qualify as “pocket-friendly.”
Still, the Galaxy Camera is the best and only choice for those with a serious interest in photo sharing from anywhere. We want to emphasize that the success of this camera is due to the combination of Android and 4G. If this device supported 4G but not Android, we’d probably be forced to use some clunky proprietary software to connect, then more clunky proprietary software for uploads, etc. If the opposite were true, and the camera only included the Android OS, it would be severely limited by a reliance on WiFi hotspots. But for the right user, someone obsessed with social sharing, yet still committed to image quality beyond a phone camera, the Galaxy Camera could be just right.
Now…let’s see someone bring this technology to prosumer models.
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