Well, I finally got it.
Well, not me actually, but my daughter did .. as her much delayed birthday present.
The famous(or infamous) Android based compact camera that 'promised' a bit.
Not the first Android based compact camera .. Nikon's S800 got that accolade, but the Nikon is mired in an older less well supported version of the Android OS being v2.3 as opposed to the more current v4.something That Android is currently at.
Android being what it is tho, I'm sure the enthusiastic bunch of independent Android programming gurus will have a later version ROM for the Nikon sooner rather than later.
But I wanted a more modern version of Android for various reasons, so the Samsung it was to be(as little Ms 10yo's birthday present).
Samsung is running v4.1.1(JellyBean, or JB) on this device.
The general summary of that decision is that I have mixed feelings for the choice I made, but more so positive than negative.
Firstly and really the only negative is that image quality is bad .. in general bad, all round bad, and not something you would be proud to display at 100% resolution!
But that's not really the point of this camera! It's not just about the capture of super high quality images to print at wall size output.
What I see as the premise, or idea of owning this camera, which is better labelled as a device, is more about what else it can do for the owner.
So far I've seen only one review on the Samsung Galaxy Camera, by an Aussie chap, via DPR/Connect.
I personally can't see his(Oliver Lang's) point of view, in that images need to be uploaded the instant they're captured, but each to their own.
My priority is such that IQ takes precedence over the ability to instantly share low quality images.
(if you haven't searched for it, yet, his review is here)
click on the images to see how badly they're rendered.
But for me what makes this device a success is the Android operating system. It's really the only reason I got the device for my daughter in the first place.
As a compact camera, it's quite large. Larger than I imagined at least, and is at the top end of the size scale in terms of non interchangeable lens compacts.
Prior to this device, my daughter had a small much more compact Samsung camera, which feels at least half the size. But she (being 10yp) says it comfortable to hold due to the shaped handgrip.
As I have large bloke hands I can't agree and find it a pain(literally) to hold, as it's so slippery and dainty finger holding is the only way to grip it. I'm always worried that I'm going to drop it.
And over the past three days I've handled it quite a bit, setting it up for her to 'play with' .. and that's the kicker!
It's a device that you play with .. more like a Nintendo DSi(I use that parallel as that's my daughter's major device of choice), or a Sony PSP portable or whatever else is out there .. as a games console.
Being Android, it works just like any other Android based device, and you can load whatever app is available for that platform, as long as that app is supported on the version of Android on the device.
Initially it's easy to think, Oh yeah another electronic toy for the kids to play with, and for sure that's what they'll do, but some kids play differently.
My daughter also likes to listen to her music, make videos, draw pictures, touch up her images with kiddish style with bunny ears and funny faces, etc .. but a very important aspect of what she also likes to do on her electronic games device is to write stories.
This was made hard for her on her DSi, and impossible on her previous dumb camera, but all hail Android!
Download any number of Office compatible apps, and away you type .. with a proper keyboard too if you prefer. Again, being Android, and having bluetooth, I can connect her with my bluetooth keyboard.
So while Master 12 yo black ops General spends 25hours a day blowing away every human in his virtual world, Little Miss would be JK Rowling, is punching away on her keyboard, snapping away the occasional image, mastering the odd video(of really weird stuff) and the odd mundane game or two as well.
She imports her doc/docx/rtf Word files into her device and whilst in a mobile environment, she can preoccupy herself with her work at any time of the day.... almost!
the only caveat is that this thing devours batteries! It barely lasts 4 hours doing most mundane stuff, and it has quite a beefy battery too boot!
The battery isn't a major issue as it's easily charged via a USB plug, and they're pretty much ubiquitous now, but it's still an issue if photography is a major operation too.
She;s slowly learning the basics of uploading to FTP, whilst that technical details aren't important, it's teaching her the intricacies of file management at an early age(which I think for her generation is a vital part of life to come). Both kids are quite proficient with their respective laptops, so this is just another aspect of a future that will be heavily dependent on personal computing.
Just some info as to what this device can and can't do as well:
It has a slot for a sim card, but that slot is data only.. no voice ability.
That is, it's basically a small non voice tablet in it's ability. It can access the mobile/phone network only for data, but skype calls are also possible, if need be.
Again this is not something important to her at this point in time(grade 5) but she now has the ability to email whilst on the move.
Mr 12 year old, is starting High School next year, and he'll get a mobile phone this Christmas to stay in touch/emergency situations, as he's now going to be a lot more independent going to a from school.
And he wants the same OS .. ever since I got my Samsung Galaxy II phone, they're always pestering me to let them play with it ... for the stoopid games!
At first my son was a bit envious as to what you could do with the images captured by this device, but once he realises that the D300 has so much more to offer in terms of IQ, that envy will wear off and his phone will satisfy his mobile needs.
So the basic rundown, about this device is simple:
As a camera it fails, and I think quite miserably for most purposes.
That is, from my perspective, if a camera was chosen to capture an image that was originally captured for the purpose of immediate lo-fi web presentation, I think if the image was one of those money shots, that once in a lifetime shot that could be worth a lot of money as a large print .. this camera simply doesn't have the ability to offer that sort of service!
At the same resolution, my 6Mp D70 plus kit lens produces better hi res images.
And from what I've seen, the mobile camera for that purpose is going to be the Nokia PureView anyhow!
As a lifestyle device, that is a gadget to keep the kid in all of us happy, whether simply for the need to upload low res images to our story, or edit our Excel spread sheets whilst on the move, and then move onto a more creative endeavour in an instant, this device wins hands down.
(Oh! BTW, I have to admit that I'm a huge fan of the Android OS too! Not quite fanboi status, happy with what it has allowed me to do whilst moving about).
There's no real point in waffling on about the cameras abilities or lack thereof, as they're so limited.
But I'll try to quickly explain that whilst Samsung offers some full manual control over the camera, it's pretty pointless in reality. The one major drawback is the inability to set focus as you prefer. You can choose the point of focus, but it's only fully automatic in that it will only focus to that point which you select by touch on the rear screen.
There is no way to manually set focus at all, say at MFD and then gradually bring the camera closer to that plane.
The full manual control of the camera is more annoying than helpful, and the major omission(of the two major omissions in any modern high end camera) is that it doesn't have any optical stabilisation built in, and they rely on ISO boosting to raise shutter speed to compensate.
The other major proper camera feature omitted, is the ability to do panorama sweep style shots. (but remember this is Android ).
Samsung is attempting to woo smartphone people away from smart phones and towards this device, being a smart camera, and in some ways it is better.
It offers the ability to zoom the lens properly(even tho IQ is below par), but not having native camera features that are usually found on compact cameras is not going to help.
Having said that, there are any number of independent apps available for Android that do panorama shots if you really need that kind of feature .. and as usual the paid for versions usually offer the better features.
Just one of those apps that Samsung should have had on offer for the device from the start.
Whilst on the topic of apps, I have downloaded a few image editing apps on both my Tablet and on the camera, and in general they tend to work well .. Snapspeed is handy , with some limitations tho. And there is the native Samsung app called Photo Wizard .. this allows the usual kiddy tricks and treats such as bunny ears ... lol! what kid can resist the urge to plaster daddy with a pair of bunny ears!
Again, if that's not you preferred choice of editor, choose one from the massive array of apps available for download instead.
I'll try to bring myself to post some sample images from this camera if anyone is interested(but I suspect that most of us are not).