Ever since the first compact digicams with integrated Wi-Fi came out, we've been asking for – clamoring for, really – a camera that allowed easy access to public wireless hotspots, making wireless image uploading on the go a reality.
Today, it seems that Sony has addressed this concern with the launch of the Wi-Fi equipped Sony Cyber-shot DSC-G3.
What makes the G3 special among cameras with wireless upload capabilities is simple: it has a built-in web browser. But the point is not to use the camera to browse the web (though, theoretically, you could...). Rather, having a simple web browser means you can now accept terms of service on hot spot splash pages, a key oversight that has made other wireless digicams almost impossible to use on many public wireless networks.
Sony has also collaborated with AT&T, equipping each G3 with a year of free hot spot access on any Wi-Fi network managed by the carrier. Sony's Easy Upload system is configured to automatically direct photos and videos to popular sites including Shutterfly, Picasa, and YouTube, but with the G3's built-in browser, you can also send photos anywhere you'd like on the web directly from the camera.
In all of the focus on wireless uploading in Sony's announcement this morning, you might forget that the G3 is also a picture taking – and not just a picture uploading – device. The thin, 10 megapixel, auto-exposure G3 boasts a 4x optical zoom, Intelligent Scene Recognition, and of course, face detection. The camera uses the very crisp 3.5 inch, 920,000 dot LCD that has graced other flagship Sony ultracompact models.
Stylistically, the G3 is in the tradition of Sony's fashionable T-series ultracompacts, but modifies the sliding lens-cover design of the T cameras in a unique way: in the G3, the entire camera body slides open left to right, extending the camera by half an inch or so and revealing the lens.
The G3 also borrows the T700's "pocket photo album" concept, coming packed with 4GB of internal storage. Using supplied software, you can upload compressed versions of your images – those taken with the G3, and those shot with other cameras – to the G3 for mobile viewing, while storing the originals safely on your hard drive at home.
If this sounds like the camera you've been waiting for, you'll be happy to know that the G3 should be hitting retailers any day now. Not surprisingly, the price tag will likely hover around a steep $500. But if the G3 works as well as advertised on the wireless uploading front, it may prove a small price to pay for convenience.