Lauren Goode

Recent Posts by Lauren Goode

Nikon Reveals Its First “Smartphamera,” the Nikon Coolpix S800c With Android OS

What’s that? You want a decent camera that can share photos like a smartphone?

Nikon has heard your call.

The Japan-based camera and lens maker just announced the Nikon Coolpix S800c, a 16-megapixel, Wi-Fi-equipped digital camera powered by an Android operating system, with full access to the Google Play app store.

Other specs in the Nikon release: The S800c has a 10x optical zoom, with a backside-illuminated CMOS image sensor, a capacitive 3.5-inch OLED touchscreen monitor, built-in GPS technology and shoots video in full HD 1080p. It also has the ability to tether to a phone or tablet via Wi-Fi if there is no network available.

The lightweight camera weighs 6.5 ounces and is 1.1-inch thick. It officially hits the market in September, costs $349.95 and is now available for preorder, in either black or white.

While it’s a first for Nikon, it’s not the only Android-based digital camera in the works. Earlier this year, at the Consumer Electronics Show, Polaroid showed off its own Android-based digital camera, as PCWorld notes here.

Over the past couple years, camera makers have been adding Wi-Fi capabilities and high-performance CMOS sensors to their camera bodies, in an effort to compete with ever-improving smartphones, which are slowly munching away at the digital camera market. Some have developed apps that share directly with smartphones, though that means the consumer is still carrying two devices.

But, to quote Yoda, Wi-Fi does not an easy-share camera make (okay, maybe Yoda didn’t say that, but he might wisely agree). Some camera touchscreens are still resistive, which means they require a firm press to navigate the camera; users have had to painstakingly type on a camera’s small screen to, for instance, send a photo via email. And speaking of sharing, the native apps on Wi-Fi-enabled cameras can be lacking.

The Nikon camera — smartphamera? — seems like a step toward a familiar, intuitive operating system on a piece of hardware that’s actually meant to take good photos.

Interested buyers should note, however, that the operating system on the Nikon Coolpix S800c is an older one: Android 2.3, or Gingerbread.

And the fact that it’s running a mobile phone operating system makes me wonder whether the camera’s software upgrades automatically, whether it’s vulnerable to hackers or the malware that plagues Android, and how much apps running in the background will impact camera battery life.

The Coolpix S800c has a rechargeable, lithium ion battery that’s measured according to the standards of the Camera and Imaging Products Association (CIPA), so it’s measured in pictures taken, not hours. This Coolpix claims a battery life of approximately 140 shots.

We’ll have more answers when the smartphamera officially comes to market in September.

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