Haven't cameras always been wireless? Well, yes but this isn't about power. It's about hooking your camera up to your wireless network at home, and that same 3G network your phone is connected to. Why would you want to do that? Read on.
What’s the problem?
The limitations of cameras have always been pretty obvious. Whether its the number of shots available on that old analogue camera film, or the capacity of your digital camera's SD card, once you've taken the photos you want, they fill up space on the camera pretty quickly. They're just stuck there until you can be bothered to hook up your camera to your PC, or drop that SD card in there to extract your photos. Who gets round to doing that anyway?
So, what’s the plan?
OK, what if we could hook up your camera to a wireless network? You could push all of your photos directly to your home storage du choix, and better still, view them over the network on PCs, tablets and that snazzy Smart TV you just hooked up in the lounge. Hey, and if we whacked a SIM card in there, just like the one you have in your smartphone, you could automatically copy your photos to the Cloud whilst you're out and about. Or to Twitter, Facebook, Google+, Instagram or whatever other social network you and your people hang out at.
Has it been tried before?
Well, Eye-Fi have some very clever Wi-Fi enabled SD cards that can add wireless connections to most digital cameras. They've been around for a few years and work okay, although that connection can be a little fussy. Since then, the first cameras with integrated Wi-Fi have hit the market over the last couple of years, but have yet to really grip the market.
So what’s next?
The next generationWi-Fi and 3G enabled cameras are with us! Samsung pushed out their new Galaxy Camera in late 2012. Think of it less as a camera with a network connection, and more like a mini-Android tablet strapped to a decent digital camera. 3G and Wi-Fi are on board for shooting out and about, there's a massive 4.8″ touchscreen for viewing and editing pictures, GPS and that network connection geo-tags all of your shots as you take them and of course, with Android 4.1 Jelly Bean on board, you can install and use the hundreds of thousands of apps available from the Google Play store.
In use, life with your camera becomes very different – now, you can automagically send photos to Dropbox and Facebook as you take them – so not only can you share your shots instantly, you've got an immediate backup in case you drop your camera in the loo. With the Foursquare app on board, you'll be checking in to places with your camera rather than your phone, which takes a little getting used to. In the evenings or during travel, your camera can transform from a capture device to a playback device – with such a big screen, you can stream music and video over your home network or the Internet to your camera for viewing, as well as enjoying the photos and video you captured that day.
It's still a camera. But a camera with the power of the Internet built in.
Give me more!
The Samsung Galaxy camera is now available in 3G+ Wi-Fi from around £380 (Amazon UK | Amazon US) and is coming soon in a cheaper, Wi-Fi only variant. Nikon are jumping onboard the Android bandwagon with the £230 (UK| US) COOLPIX S800c whilst Sony's Cybershot DSC-WX300 (UK| US) offers a more traditional camera experience with Wi-Fi added for file transfer. Canon are also taking Wi-Fi connectivity to heart by including the feature across their IXUS and PowerShot range in 2013.