In advance of the upcoming CES trade show, Samsung today announced the Galaxy 2, the Korean company’s 21x zoom, 16MP camera that runs on Google's Android OS. Pricing and availability are not yet available, but this year’s model introduces a slightly faster 1.6GHz processor as well as a larger capacity 2,000 mAh battery, which Samsung says will provide longer video recording and playback times. The Galaxy 2 will also ship with a more current version of the Android OS, specifically 4.3. Much of the rest of the Galaxy camera remains unchanged from its predecessor, however. You still get a large 4.8-inch LCD touch screen, optical image stabilization and 8GB of memory with the option to add an additional 64GB of memory via the camera’s microSD slot.
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As I wrote last year, I was less than impressed with the first version of the Galaxy camera, primarily because the camera itself was larger (and more expensive) than many entry-level mirrorless cameras, which delivered far superior image quality. In all fairness though, the Galaxy 2, like its predecessor, is much more about convenience and seamless image sharing than ultimate picture quality. In this regard, the Galaxy 2 offers a wealth of options for sharing your images. As with any Android device, you can immediately share your pictures over social media apps. You’ll need an available Wi-Fi network to do so directly from the camera, though. While Samsung did release cellular-capable versions of the first-generation Galaxy camera, there’s no official word yet on whether similar plans with AT&T or Verizon are in the works. If you are stuck without a Wi-Fi connection, the Galaxy camera does offer NFC support, allowing you to send images directly to your phone and then sharing them.
Samsung’s Remote Viewfinder lets you control camera operation from your smartphone as well. But again, this only highlights the fact that you’ll need to be carrying two devices with you. Smartphone photographers who desire an optical zoom, will of course appreciate the Galaxy’s 23-483mm equivalent lens, and more advanced shooters will make use of the camera’s manual exposure controls.
But there’s no getting around the fact that in the time since the launch of the original Galaxy camera, nearly every camera maker has adopted some form of wireless image sharing in their entry and mid-level standalone cameras. So if you’ve got to carry around two devices anyway, why not opt for a smaller camera that produces better pictures? Until we reach the point where free, public Wi-Fi hotspot coverage becomes ubiquitous, it’s a question that may greatly limit the appeal of the Galaxy 2 camera.
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