A new pocket-sized camera from Samsung will come with not just a Wi-Fi radio, but also Boingo software for getting online and three months of free access to that company's hotspots.
Users of the Samsung ST5500 will first register online for the free Boingo Mobile account. After taking photos and video, they then will be able to upload them directly to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, Facebook and Samsung's own SamsungImaging.com photo and video sharing site.
The Boingo account provides unlimited access to about 125,000 hotspots around the world. After the three months of free membership have expired, users can subscribe to Boingo for US$7.95 per month.
Smartphones, which can reach the Internet from far more places than can Wi-Fi devices, are coming with increasingly advanced cameras. But a connected camera like the ST5500 still offers a far better image-making capability than a smartphone and will also include Internet access that is fairly widely available.
The camera has a 14.2-megapixel sensor and a 7x (31mm to 217mm) zoom lens with image stabilization. It can capture 720p high-definition video at 30 frames per second and send it to a TV via an HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface) output.
The camera also has a 3.7-inch AMOLED (Active-Matrix Organic Light-Emitting Diode) touch screen with a virtual QWERTY keypad. Once they are online, consumers can use the keypad to enter e-mail addresses, write notes, and send photos and clips to their contacts. They can also directly upload content to the four sites for which the camera has uploading software. In addition to Wi-Fi, it comes with Bluetooth for transferring images to phones.
The ST5500 is starting to ship now to most parts of the world and will come to the U.S. in the middle of the year as the CL80. Samsung was not able to provide pricing.
Only the ST5500 includes the Boingo software now, but Samsung plans to offer it for more cameras in the future.