TIME FOR THE AN­DROID CAM­ERA

Gadgets and Gizmos (India) - - TEST BENCH -

An An­droid cam­era is ide­ally a point-and-shoot that uses the pro­cess­ing power and in­tel­li­gence of a smart­phone. Cam­eras have been in­tel­li­gent for a cou­ple of years now, pro­vid­ing users a host of edit­ing and other features. They have been con­nected too, with Sam­sung coming out with Wi-Fi cam­eras last year. But to meld the two (ex­cept that the cam­era can­not be used for mak­ing calls) is an ex­am­ple of con­ver­gence. But does this “joint ven­ture” ac­tu­ally im­prove your user ex­pe­ri­ence?

NIKON COOLPIC S800C

The first An­droid cam­era to hit the In­dian mar­ket, the Nikon Coolpic S800c has a solid build. In fact, it re­minded us of the Nokia 808 Pureview, though it is not as slim. It looks like a point-and-shoot cam­era from all sides ex­cept the op­er­a­tive end, where it re­sem­bles an An­droid phone with three keys for Menu, Home and Back be­low the large touch­screen. This cam­era runs An­droid 2.3.3 and any­one who has used an An­droid phone will have no trou­ble us­ing it.

But what ben­e­fits does this con­ver­gence bring? Well, to start with, you will not have to bother about what card or how much stor­age you have in your cam­era. For if the 1.7GB in­ter­nal me­mory is not enough, you can set the cam­era to sync all your pho­tos and videos to Picasa or Drop­box or any other cloud ser­vice avail­able on An­droid. In fact, we started test­ing the de­vice with­out even re­al­is­ing that there was no me­mory card in it. Con­nected to the Wi-Fi, the Gallery had synced to Picasa pho­tos be­fore we even re­alised it was do­ing so.

And then you have ac­cess to all the apps. This means, you can use this de­vice to do any­thing you would with a smart­phone, ex­cept for mak­ing a call. Yes, you can browse the web, watch YouTube videos and even lis­ten to songs on In­ter­net ra­dio, pro­vided you have a good Wi-Fi con­nec­tion at the place you want to use this de­vice. Click­ing a photo be­comes just one of the many func­tions of this de­vice, for you can also edit the pho­tos, share them on so­cial net­work­ing sites, goof around with fun photo apps and even do a Skype chat. Just imag­ine all the things you can do with its won­der­ful 16MP cam­era when it is paired with the thou­sands of pho­tos apps out there. But, please, limit your­self to photo apps and don’t start play­ing An­gryBirds on the de­vice.

The cam­era it­self is quite good. Along with the 16MP CMOS sen­sor it has a Nikkor lens with 10x zoom. The re­sults are what you would ex­pect with a de­cent point-and-shoot and there is the added ad­van­tage of its be­ing able to click a pic­ture by just touch­ing the 3.5-inch OLED screen. The auto fo­cus is very fast, though the zoom is a bit too loud. How­ever, there are not many tweaks you can do on the cam­era it­self, ex­cept for the modes and some spe­cial ef­fects. The cam­era has no full man­ual mode ei­ther. But then that is where the An­droid OS and its Google Play Store will come in handy.

SAM­SUNG GALAXY CAM­ERA

A smart­phone that clicks good pic­tures in­stead of mak­ing calls—that is the Sam­sung Galaxy Cam­era in a nut­shell. With an An­droid op­er­at­ing sys­tem, this cam­era lets you edit the pic­tures that you have shot us­ing a host of in­ter­nal apps as well as those you can down­load from the Google Play store. It also lets you share the pic­tures in­stan­ta­neously. To fa­cil­i­tate shar­ing, the cam­era has a SIM card slot along with Wi-Fi and Blue­tooth.

The Galaxy Cam­era is dif­fer­ent from reg­u­lar point-and­shoots in more ways than one. For in­stance, it has an amaz­ing 4.7-inch su­per clear touch dis­play, the likes of which you have not seen in cam­eras be­fore. Of course, you have the An­droid OS. But then Nikon has one too. But what Nikon doesn’t have is the SIM card slot, which makes this one a con­nected cam­era wher­ever you are, not just in your home or liv­ing room.

The cam­era in this de­vice is akin to a mid-level pointand-shoot, with a num­ber of set­tings and modes, which in this case are ac­cessed and con­trolled us­ing the very re­spon­sive touch­screen. You can also use voice to con­trol the cam­era, but we were not very suc­cess­ful with that. But then that is a func­tion you will sel­dom use in real life. The cam­era in­ter­face when you are us­ing the ex­pert mode is very easy to use and one of the best we have seen so far. The re­sults are good, es­pe­cially when viewed on the vivid cam­era dis­play. But blow the pic­ture up and you will see that the de­tails are not so great—at least, not what you would ex­pect from a 16MP cam­era.

Still, this cam­era isn’t meant to click pic­tures that you would later use on a hoard­ing. It’s meant to take pic­tures that you would want to upload to Face­book or Instagram promptly. In this, there is no beat­ing this Galaxy. There are many who would love to own a cam­era that com­pletely elim­i­nates the save-to-PC, edit, send process. But so what, you might counter, you can do the same in a top-end smart­phone? That is where the 21x zoom comes into play. There is no cam­era which can do that at the moment.

There is the en­tire An­droid app ecosys­tem to play around with too. And you can down­load apps wher­ever you are, save files to Drop­box as you click and also have the rest of your Picasa and Face­book pho­tos on the de­vice in case you need to check them. The Cor­tex-A9 quad core pro­ces­sor on the cam­era is good enough even for video edit­ing. We cre­ated a one-minute clip, com­pressed and mailed it in five min­utes. Well, that is where this cam­era is go­ing to score above the oth­ers.

GG

NIKON COOLPIX S800C

Price: ` 20,950 Specs:

An­droid 2.3.3; 16MP 1/2.3 inch CMOS; Ex­peed im­age pro­ces­sor; f/3.2-5.8, 1/4000 sec shut­ter speed, ISO 3200; 1920x1080p/30fps; SD card; USB, HDMI, Wi-Fi, Blue­tooth; 1.7GB me­mory.

GG

SAM­SUNG GALAXY CAM­ERA

Price: ` 30,900 Specs:

16MP BSI-CMOS sen­sor; An­droid 4.1; 1.4GHz quad-core pro­ces­sor; f/2.8, 1/2000 sec shut­ter speed; ISO 3200; Full HD 1920x1080p / 30fps; mi­cro SD card, HDMI, USB, 3G, Wi-Fi, Al­lshare, Blue­tooth; GPS; 8GB in­ter­nal me­mory.

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