ROCHESTER, N.Y. – After a summer-long delay, Eastman Kodak Co. has begun shipping the first digital camera with Wi-Fi wireless technology to e-mail photos directly to friends and family without a computer.
Users of the new EasyShare-One (search), priced at $599, can send photos directly through a Wi-Fi transmitter at home or work, or pay $4.99 per month to connect the camera with any of T-Mobile USA's 6,000 hot spots at stores, airports, hotels and other establishments.
However, subscribers to other Wi-Fi services will not be able to connect an EasyShare-One to those wireless accounts.
The EasyShare-One's liquid-crystal screen contains an easy-to-use instruction menu: Shutterbugs can either e-mail pictures and video clips or post them on Kodak's online photography site.
Though the photos are actually routed through the Kodak site, users can set up their accounts so that the messages appear to arrive from a personal e-mail address.
Camera-equipped cell phones already offer photo-sharing capabilities but typically produce low-resolution images.
The new Kodak camera boasts 4 megapixels of resolution, 3x optical zoom, storage room for up to 1,500 photos and a 3-inch touch screen — big enough for the camera to double as a portable album.
The EasyShare-One, first unveiled in January, was supposed to hit the market in June but ran into engineering, marketing and other logistical glitches.
In the meantime, Japan's Nikon Corp. looked like it might steal Kodak's thunder by shipping its own Wi-Fi camera to stores last month. But while the Nikon P1 (search) can wirelessly transfer pictures to a computer, the Kodak model remains unique in its potential to bypass the hassle of downloading.
"It's the next step forward in cameras. No more worrying about plugging in the cable," said photography analyst Ed Lee of InfoTrends (search), a research firm in Weymouth, Mass.