CES 2012 had several tech trends, one of which being the “connected camera”. Either the camera was Wi-Fi enabled to allow photo and video uploads to popular online services like Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa directly from it, or it had the capability to make an ad-hoc network connection to a smartphone to upload photos and videos. Or both.
Polaroid introduced an Android-based camera at CES 2012, their 16-MP, SC1630 Smart Camera. It was quite an interesting device, what looked like a point and shoot camera with 3x optical zoom that has Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity as well as an Android interface which gives the camera access to various Android camera and photo editing apps. (As seen below, it also had a SIM slot for smartphone functionality.)
Once a photo is taken, it can be edited on and uploaded directly from the camera, similar to how people are using their cameraphones. But the difference is that the SC1630 is a camera first, so it had a chunkier chassis than a sleek smartphone to accommodate the camera optics. The fact that it has 3x optical zoom already beats a lot of cameraphones.
However, the SC1630 is actually a rebrand of a Chinese smartphone called the Altek Leo A14, which in and of itself isn’t too big of a deal. But like most of their consumer electronics products now, Polaroid didn’t really develop the Android interface or the camera hardware, so the end result was mediocre. In the short time that I played with the SC1630, I realized it felt clunky, and saw that photo quality actually wasn’t very good. It felt very much like a cheap, crappy P&S cam with a buggy build of Android and a touchscreen tacked on.
What does this have to do with Samsung? They reportedly filed for a US trademark for “Samsung Galaxy Camera”, which according to the filing, is to be used for “cameras and camcorders”. This doesn’t necessarily indicate that Samsung is working on anything concrete right now, but it is an interesting filing, especially in light of the connected cameras shown off at CES 2012.
Samsung already has a separate camera division, but it seems like products that would fall under the category indicated by this trademark filing would be different, thanks to the Galaxy naming scheme. All of their Galaxy products are connected devices, whether it’s via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or mobile broadband. So it stands to reason that cameras also branded Galaxy would be connected in the same way.
They could likely even be companion devices tosmartphones and tablets to allow users to have all the features and optical quality of dedicated photo and video cameras, but still have benefit of being always-connected for easy photo and video sharing. Personally, I would be more confident in the quality and integration of Android (or whatever mobile OS Samsung chooses to use) with the camera hardware in potential Samsung Galaxy cameras than I was in the quality of Polaroid’s SC1630.