By Lisa Johnston
New products on display at the American International Toy Fair, held in N
Berlin – Samsung unveiled the Galaxy Camera, the first-ever Android-powered digital camera with Wi-Fi and 3G/4G connectivity, on the eve of the IFA electronics show here.
In addition, Samsung debuted the Galaxy Note II, its second-generation "phablet" now with a 5.5-inch screen but actually thinner than the original 5.3-inch Note, along with a Windows 8 smartphone, tablet and two laptops.
While the Note II and the Windows 8 gear was more or less expected, the Galaxy Camera was a surprise. When it goes on sale sometime this fall, it will run the next-generation Android OS Jellybean.
Essentially the Galaxy Camera is a small Android tablet with a large camera lens. Equipped with a 4.8-inch, 308 ppi touchscreen, the largest ever on a digital camera, the company said, the camera acts just like any other Android tablet or smartphone (sans calling function). Its non-camera screens look exactly like Android screens on other devices.
The Galaxy Camera's menus, however, utilize scrolling and tapping to easily navigate through its camera features. Scene modes, for instance, can be chosen from a revolving onscreen menu occupying the right third of the screen, complete with a text explanation of the mode.
Locating and joining Wi-Fi networks also is simpler since the screen provides more generous screen real estate for the QWERTY than other Wi-Fi-equipped cameras. The QWERTY also can be used to search through photos by name, time or location. Photos also can be dragged and dropped into folders, and can be automatically uploaded to Cloud storage.
As a camera, the Galaxy is equipped with a 23mm lens with 21x optical zoom, and a 16-megapixel 1/2.3-inch backside-illuminated CMOS chip. It will be available in either black or white.
Since it connects via 3G/4G (HSPA+, not LTE), the Galaxy Camera will be sold initially through cellular carrier stores. No price was provided; however, company executives noted it would be not be costlier than other high-end digital cameras.
On the Note II, Samsung has managed to make a smartphone with a bigger screen but actually less bulky than the original. The company has trimmed the Note II by reshaping it — instead of the 1,280 by 800 pixel display on the original, the Note II sports a 16:9 screen ratio and a 1,280 by 720 pixel area. It also is equipped with a slightly more powerful processor (dual-core 1.5 GHz vs. dual-core 1.4 GHz), a more copious battery (3,100 mAh vs. 2,500 mAh), and will come in 16GB, 32GB and 64GB varieties rather than just 16GB. There will be white and gray versions.
Also redesigned is the S Pen stylus, now slightly larger to make its grip more pen-like, and adds a rubber tip to avoid the possibly scratching the screen.
The S Pen also does some new tricks, such as Air View, or hover-mode. Holding the S Pen 10mm above a folder or calendar event and contents are splayed out in a preview mode, helping to avoid continual opening/back and closing/back to locate an item.
S Pen also can be used to lasso and cut segments of images or Web pages to share separately from the whole, and can be used to scribble notes on Web pages or apps (such as circling a date on a calendar) that can be shared. Screen actions also can be recorded as a video for later review or sharing.
Like the Galaxy Camera, the Note II is expected to go on sale sometime later this year. No pricing or carriers were announced.
Jumping the gun on Microsoft, Samsung announced its Ativ-branded line of Windows 8 products (Ativ is the reverse of Vita, which is Latin for "life"): the Ativ S smartphone, the Ativ Tab tablet, the Ativ S Ativ Smart PC 11.6-inch convertible tablet/laptop and Ativ Smart PC Pro 11.6-inch traditional clamshell laptop.
Sporting a design and specs similar to the company's Galaxy S III smartphones, the Ativ S is equipped with a 4.8-inch Super AMOLED screen and a 1.5 dual-core processor, but connects via the HSPA+ network, which indicates either AT&T or T-Mobile will be the first to sell it when it becomes available.
The 10.1-inch Ativ Tab will have pre-installed versions of Office Home and Student 2013 RT, which includes the new Windows 8 versions of Word, Excel, PowerPoint and OneNote. It weighs 1.26 pounds, measures 0.35 inches thin, is powered by an 8,200 mAh battery and includes both a USB and an HDMI jack.
Both Windows 8 laptops are equipped with 10-point multitouch touchscreens and include an S Pen along with pre-loaded versions of Samsung's S Note application. The Smart PC is 0.39 inches thin, is powered by an Intel Atom processor and runs for 13.5 hours, while the 0.47-inches-thin Smart PC Pro runs on Intel's Core i5 chip for up to eight hours.
Exactly when these Windows 8 devices will appear is still to be decided.
This TWICE webinar, hosted by senior editor Alan Wolf, will take a look at what may be the hottest CE products at retail that will be sold during the all-important fourth quarter. Top technologies, market strategies and industry trends will be discussed with industry analysts and executives.