July 16, 2012 | by Andrew Kameka
The smart device era has connected all of our favorite gadgets to the Internet and each other. The ability to link phones, televisions, and cameras has made way for some cool, if not always practical, use cases for interconnected technology. A pair of apps from Samsung Imaging illustrate that by linking Samsung’s digital cameras to Android phones.
At CES 2012, Samsung announced a line of smart cameras that would include WiFi Direct, a protocol that can establish a wireless connection between two devices. Once the two are paired, the Samsung Remote Viewfinder Android app can control a Samsung camera, or the Samsung MobileLink can transfer photos and videos wirelessly. The Samsung NX 200 is among the latest cameras to support this feature but I couldn’t acquire one just yet. So I reached out to Samsung and they agreed to lend me a Samsung WB850F so I could test the feature.
The WB850F lives at the higher tier of point and shoot cameras even before you factor in its Android bonafides. The camera supports GPS, 21x optical zoom, up to 12 MP photos, 1080p video, and has a 23 mm wide angle lens. Like other Samsung WiFi cameras released this year, it can use Android to remote take and transfer photos.
REMOTE VIEWFINDER: Relay the camera’s lens to your phone
Remote Viewfinder rates highly on the “cool” factor, but it leaves much to be desired. The biggest problem is that it doesn’t support video, and compatibility may vary among Android 2.2 or higher devices. (It works with a Galaxy S3, Galaxy Nexus, and HTC EVO Design that I tested). The viewfinder isn’t crystal clear, but the image is good enough to know whats happening, so it’s easy to overlook this shortcoming. Zooming is also troublesome because you cannot hold down the in/out buttons. Instead, you have to repeatedly tap the plus and minus sign, which is difficult because the app lags and says that “The zoom is already in use.”
I’ve seem some apps offer complete control of DSLR’s through a wire, but Remote Viewfinder is impressive because it’s wireless. Someone can launch the app, place their Samsung camera on a tripod, and then sit down for a self or family portrait without running back and forth to check the camera. Users can change image size, set a self-timer, snap a photo, turn on/off flash, and get a live look at their viewfinders without having to touch the camera. It’s a limited feature that I doubt you’ll often use, but it’s a good showoff feature that you’ll appreciate on those rare occasions that you use it.
MOBILELINK: Transfer your photos/videos to your phone
MobileLink establishes a connection and then sends the photos or videos to an Android device. Samsung Smart cameras also feature the ability to post to Facebook, Picasa, YouTube, and Photobucket, but shuffling the files over to Android provides more options. From there, you can share to other apps, like Instagram or Dropbox, or upload to Path and Google+ instead.
I was very intrigued by Polaroid’s concept of doing everything on one device, but there’s been no update on when that will happen. Mobilelink is as an excellent way of expanding post-capture options for your photos. Users can select photos or entire libraries, and transfer speeds between devices are very quick. Considering that speed and more options, Mobilelink can act as a very convenient way to grab media from a Samsung camera.
Visit Samsung.com for a complete list of WiFi cameras that can support linking with an Android device.