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Canon Previews Wi-Fi-Enabled Digital Camera

Canon announced that it would ship a Wi-Fi-enabled digital camera in the U.S. market next year, making it the third digital camera manufacturer to build in support for wireless networking.

The SD430 Digital Elph Wireless will be available in Europe first with a U.S. ship date slated for the first quarter of 2006, according to Chuck Westfall, Canon’s technical information director.

The camera will build off of the existing 5-megapixel SD400 with 802.11b wireless support. It will ship with a USB Wi-Fi dongle to connect to the company’s existing PictBridge-enabled printers.

Canon is pitching wireless technology as the “next step” in direct, PC-free printing, Westfall said. “The goal is to have the dongle work with all PictBridge-enabled printers regardless of manufacturer,” Westfall added.

The camera can be configured to send images to a networked printer as they’re recorded or in batches.

The SD430 will feature an automated wizard for connecting the camera to a PC. From the PC, using an included wireless remote, users can view live images from the camera and take photos from their desktops.

The camera will ship in January for a suggested $499.99.

Canon will provide more details and plans to highlight the product at International CES in January.

Both Nikon and Kodak have recently begun shipping their own wireless cameras into the U.S. market. Canon’s model will resemble Nikon’s in that the Wi-Fi is directed toward sending images toward other devices — not to the Internet. When connected to a hot spot, Kodak’s camera can e-mail images directly from the camera using the company’s EasyShare Gallery online photo service (formerly Ofoto).