Samsung’s WB150F is a brand new Wi-Fi-enabled compact camera, adding to the company’s range of connected products. As the likes of cloud computing and inter-connectivity wiles its way into everyday products across the spectrum of tech, it’s something that has been a slow process in the camera world. Samsung released the SH100, its first Wi-Fi-enabled compact, in the middle of 2011. Has the latest WB150F taken camera connectivity to the next level?
The WB150F’s latest Smart Wi-Fi promises easy sharing to Facebook, Picasa, Microsoft Sky Drive and other online sites such as YouTube, as well as hard drive backup on your computer direct from camera without the faff of any hard-wired cables. A Remote Viewfinder app also allows remote control of picture taking using an Android-enabled mobile device. It’s a great idea, though we’re a little concerned at the impact Wi-Fi will have on the camera’s battery life. It wasn’t possible to test this on the Samsung stand at this year’s CES, but longevity is something to keep in mind.
As much as Wi-Fi connectivity is a step forward in the camera world, it’s not a patch on what smartphones are capable of. With limited free Wi-Fi hotspots in the UK, the WB150F won’t be able to compete with the mobile phone networks’ 3G/4G technology. However the Mobile Link option does mean images can be copied directly to your Android phone ready for sharing.
Setting up and using the Wi-Fi is easy enough, but without touchscreen control the WB150F doesn’t compare to the likes of Samsung’s Galaxy series of Smartphones and tablets - both of which feature super-smooth touchscreen operation. Tapping in letter by letter and number by number can become a slow and laborious process, though the camera will remember networks and addresses for email to save time in the future. The one-touch share button helps to keep things simple too.
Of course the WB150F is nothing like a Smarphone thanks to its 18x optical zoom lens and larger 14.2-megapixel sensor. As a camera it has plenty to offer and builds on Samsung’s ever growing imaging expertise. The build quality, too, is top drawer: made from part metal and part hardy plastic the WB150F feels solid in the hand.
The 18x zoom lens is one of the camera’s strong points, able to capture from a wide-angle 24mm all the way up to a significant 432mm. It feels smooth in use and, although not especially fast to zoom, the telephoto end is significant considering the camera’s slender 18mm deep body.
The rear screen is also Samsung’s excellent AMOLED technology which is bright, sharp and does look top quality. We’ve seen other sites moan about the "low" VGA resolution, but this is a 921K-dot equivalent so is among the higher resolution screens to be found on compact cameras. It’s just a shame there’s no touch panel as per the SH100.
Control-wise there’s also plenty on offer: Auto sits alongside full manual control modes, as well as 720p HD movie, Live Panorama and some other fun options such as Split Shot mode whereby the screen can be divided and filled with different shots.
All in all we’re impressed with the WB150F concept and even ignoring the Smart Wi-Fi feature the model has plenty on offer: it looks like a decent, mid-zoom compact - even more so considering the affordable £199 price tag.