Android running your point-and-shoot camera? What’s next? Android in your car, fridge and bathroom.
This is a spectacular gadget, yet I find it really hard to describe just exactly what it is. It’s not a tablet nor a phone, yet it has a fully functioning Android Jelly Bean OS on hardware that runs it as smooth as some of the best smartphones out there. It’s definitely a camera, which the 21X optical zoom will remind you as it oozes out of its socket when the device turns on. But it costs $600, which makes you ask just how much camera or tablet am I getting for my money?
Out of the box you’ll be greeted with a somewhat hefty looking device weighing in at 300g. Sporting a very high quality textured white shell, the feel of the device is a notch above most other point and shoot cameras. Then again, so is the price tag. Flipping the camera around reveals the massive 4.8″ Super Clear LCD screen, with 1280 x 720 pixels – similar to the Nexus 7. There’s a plethora of connectivity and options that would be right at home in a fully featured tablet: Mirco SD, SIM card slot, Micro USB, Mini HDMI, 3.5mm Headphone Jack, WiFi, Bluetooth, 16GB hard drive and 2GB of RAM running Android Jelly Bean 4.1 right out of the box. Phew. Did I mention it is also running a quad-core 1.4Ghz processor?
And then, there’s the camera: a 16 Megapixel BIS CMOS Sensor with Optical Image Stabilization, 21x optical zoom with 23mm wide angle lens and built in xenon flash. This beast is there to remind you that you’re dealing with a serious camera.
I was considering reviewing the OS performance and camera quality separately, but in the spirit of this device’s split personality… I thought it best to consider them together. Plainly, this device takes higher quality pictures than every smartphone and tablet out there. As soon as you snap a picture, you have the world at your finger tips to share it to. With one click you can upload your picture to Instagram, or send it to a friend via e-mail or text message. Alternatively, you can right away bring the picture to a photo-editing app like Pixlr Express or Snapseed, and start modifying your heart away – and then upload it to Instagram. That’s one way to have the nicest looking Instagram photos on the block. This inter-connectivity to Android does seem to come with a cost, as it sometimes takes a few seconds for the camera to load up as well about a second for the picture to snap.
The camera is activated via the native Camera app in Android. And because of that, you have a lot of great options to use third party camera apps like Paper Camera or Camera 2. These apps allow you to create real-time image modifications before you take the picture. The built in camera app from Samsung has a lot of nifty features as well – with a wide variety of presets as well as manual aperture/shutter/lens adjustments.
All things considered, the Galaxy Camera is a step above your average point and shoot – and perhaps more importantly it is more relevant in today’s world. The middle ground, between pictures for social networking and professional photography, is essentially dead. So this may be the natural evolution of the point and shoot, the smart point and shoot. That said, I would feel a little iffy ponying up $600 for this beauty. It’s a great camera, and it runs Android as smoothly as the Galaxy S3 and S4. You’re essentially paying for a $300 tablet, and a $300 camera rolled in to one. In the next year or so, the majority of point and shoots on the market – whether it’s Sony, Canon or Nikon – will begin producing Android models as well and this will drive prices down to the $3-400 sweet spot. If you’ve got the cash now though, go for it, you definitely will not be disappointed.