Just today, I got my new digital camera Samsung ST5500. It features a touch sceen display and a lot of connectivity options. I'll describe my experiences with the camera in this blog post. Mostly, I will focus on the new and shiny features, not on the basic functionality.
Using the touchscreen makes the camera soo much easier to use as my old Canon IXUS and Casio Exilim. The interface developed by Samsung is definitely not up to the standards of an iPhone or Android UI, but it does its job well enough to leave all traditional key-based cameras behind.
One does have to push the screen harder compared to a capacitive touchscreen in my HTC Hero or an iPhone, but its not hindering a lot. Also, the touch sensor makes the display a litte bit grainy, but its only recognizable as the screen does have a very high quality and resolution.
Conclusion: There's room for improvement, but I'm quite happy with the touch screen as it is.
One of the primary features of the camera is direct access to photo communities via integrated WLAN. It is certainly one of the major selling points of this camera. Setting up the connectivity is very easy. It does support WPA2/AES encryption for secure access to Wifi. Just select proper encryption scheme, select your SSID from the list, enter the password and you're all set. Re-connecting to WLAN after switching the camera off takes about 5-10 seconds.
It does support the communities of Picasa, Facebook, Youtube and Samsung Imaging. I was, however, quite disappointed to see it NOT supporting Flickr and Twitpic.
I briefly tried connecting the camera to my Picasa account. Again, the setup was very easy: After entering my credentials, I was already able to browse existing albums directy in the camera. Uploading a photo also worked right out of the box. One can also manage different albums directly in the camera. Sorting photos works with drag'n'drop on the screen. Nice. On each session, you have to re-enter the Picasa password. Probably a correct decision from the security point of view, this really is a hassle if you use this feature regularly. The WLAN passphase is saved in the camera, so this is somewhat inconsistent.
Conclusion: Nice feature, works great, but needs support for more major services like Flickr.
When enabling the DLNA feature, the camera asks which photos to share. One can select only specific photos or select "ALL". I tried it with a Samsung DLNA-enabled TV as well as with a Sony TV, and it worked without any fiddling around. Nice option: In the settings you can select whether you want to share the photo in lower resolution (2M pixels), which makes rendering fast, or in the original resolution. In order to make photos again, you have to exit the DLNA sharing.
Conclusion: DLNA sharing works and has good usability.
Up to now, Bluetooth is the most disappointing feature at all. It won't connect to my Android phone ("unsupported device") after pairing and it does not detect my Ubuntu and Windows Vista notebooks at all. I will test and debug with more devices in the next days. Most importantly, it won't act as ObexFTP Server as I expected. The Bluetooth feature is completly useless as it is now.
Conclusion: Useless, not working for me at all as it is implemented today.
One nice feature of the camera is, that it supports charging the battery via USB. This means that I only have to carry one charger for all my devices and I can also charge it via my laptop. It does, however, not have a standard USB port, so that you have to use the included USB cable with a proprietary connector. The cable is pretty short. I like that, as it reduces clutter in my bag and I can extend it with a normal USB extension if needed.
Conclusion: Nice, but would have been even greater with a default mini/micro USB connector.
I managed to record some nice video clips with the camera. The video quality is pretty good and resulting MP4 files could be opened with any video editor (I prefer kdenlive running on Ubuntu Linux). The sound quality is better than I expected from an internal microphone, but of course it is not up to the same quality as an external mic. The autofocus and brightness control adapts pretty fast compared to my old Sony MiniDV camera. I'm not able to judge if this is good or bad compared to other recent devices.
Conclusion: Video quality is good enough to replace my old, once-very-expensive MiniDV camera.
During the first hours of testing and heavy-usage of the networking features, I managed to drain the battery very quickly. Ca. 1 hour of testing used 30-40% of the battery. I will update this post with battery lifetimes in more day-to-day usage scenarios as soon as I have more experience with the device.
During the first evening of tests, the camera had one hard software crash, where I had to remove the battery in order to bring it back to life. After the hard power cycle, the camera worked fine again.