The Samsung SH100 expands on the sort of connectivity we’ve seen creeping into cameras over the past few years. It is now common to have a system whereby you can mark and automatically upload pictures to the Internet on connection to a PC, but a completely PC-free solution is a little rarer. Of course we saw the Samsung ST1000 camera in 2010, which offered Bluetooth, GPS and Wi-Fi and looking at the SH100 you can see the similarity when it comes to design.
But things have moved a long way, especially when it comes to touchscreen user interfaces, and Samsung has had the chance to learn from their experience with the Samsung Galaxy S. The SH100, then, finds itself equipped with an app-based menu system, giving you access to the wide range of features on offer. For a camera that is going to cost you under $200 the range of features is surprising. As always, we have that exchange rate axe to grind, as the anticipated UK price is £199.99.
We've seen the camera a couple of times at CES in Las Vegas, and had the chance to explore some of the connectivity options in a little more detail. We haven't had the chance to test the imaging, but we did spend plenty of time on the interface, so thought it was worth sharing.
The compact body of the camera measures 93 x 53.9 x 18.9mm and it feels light in the hand. The design doesn’t throw up any major complaints, although you don’t get a lot of space to grip the camera to take pictures. However, this is designed to be a fun sharing camera rather than a high-end point and shoot, so this probably won’t deter the target market.
As with the ST1000, all the samples we’ve seen of the SH100 have used microSD, something that seems to be gaining momentum. In reality it makes little difference if you usually access your photos by plugging directly into your camera. If you prefer to remove the card to access your images, then it will be a little more fiddly. A Samsung agent informed us that this hadn't yet been finalised, but seeing as they have released cameras previous using microSD we can't see them changing at this stage.
Internally you get a 14-megapixel sensor, which sounds a little excessive, but the 5x optical zoom gives you a decent range in such a small camera. Performance, of course, we can’t really judge without a proper play, but the shots we saw, using flash, seemed reasonable.
The real interest of the SH100 is in the user interface and the connected skills, which we saw in action and had the chance to play around with. The user interface is something that Samsung is calling the “S-Motion UI”, we’re guessing from the Samsung Galaxy S effect we mentioned earlier.
The icons of the menu system are bright and colourful on the 3-inch display on the rear of the camera. We found the menu incredibly slick to leaf through, throwing up the various options available. If anything, it might be a little too overwhelming, as there are so many things this camera will do, there is always the chance you’ll get confused, or just not use many of them. Still, we won’t complain about the choice until we’ve had the chance to live with it for a while.
But just so you know, the things we’ve spotted in the menus include your regular camera control functions (shooting modes, movie modes, image playback), then things get a little more advanced with auto backup, remote viewfinder, camera to camera sharing, DLNA from Samsung’s All Share, a photo editor, all the while intermingled with various shooting options. We’ve also seen different icons in different positions in the menu and different icons used, so we’re guessing there is still some work to be done before Samsung reaches the final build for the S-Motion UI.
One of the most interesting areas is simply called “Web”. It is here that social sharing options reside, giving you access to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, Photobucket and Samsung Imaging. Once you’ve set the camera up with your details (of both your network and your social network accounts), you can just snap away and they’ll be instantly uploaded to those sites via Wi-Fi, with no need to use your computer. Of course this is something that you can do with Eye-Fi SD cards in lots of cameras, but the range of options here is really compelling. You can also email images directly from the camera, or share via DLNA.
Another neat feature is the backup option. This will let you store your images either on a computer or on a drive connected to you network. It also features wake on LAN and shutdown options for your PC. The camera even comes with a Boingo account so you get access to 200,000 Wi-Fi hotsports globally.
But those features aren’t the only thing, or even the most exciting thing on offer. Samsung have taken connectivity a step further and made it possible to use the camera in collaboration with your Samsung Android smartphone. We didn’t get the chance to see this in action, but a Samsung agent detailed that you’d be able to download an app to Samsung Android devices (the Galaxy S and Samsung Galaxy Tab were specified to us) to then use the remote viewfinder and shutter. It’s an interesting option, meaning you can place the camera somewhere in the room and relocate yourself before taking the shot, or take sneaky shots remotely.
It is impossible to pass any sort of judgement on the performance or operation of the Samsung SH100 until we get it in for a full review and everything we’ve looked at here hasn’t even really touched on imaging. We’ll be keen to see whether these features hang together in practical use, or if it is simple overwhelming.
Hats off to Samsung for continuing to explore the options for connecting your digital life. The only problem might be that people simply use their mobile phone instead.