The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 is a 9.1Mp digital camera that includes built-in Wi-Fi network connectivity, which allows users to upload photos directly to Google's Picasa photo-sharing service instead of having to connect to a PC.

The camera also can connect directly to user's home Wi-Fi networks. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 features a 28mm wide-angle Leica lens, has 10x optical zoom and a very bright 3in LCD screen for viewing photos that you've taken. The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 can record video at 720-pixel resolution, and content can be stored on an SD card.

The Wi-Fi is built into the digital camera; no separate cards or equipment are required. There's even a dedicated Wi-Fi setting on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50's feature dial to put you easily into Wi-Fi mode.

For users who are always within range of a home Wi-Fi network, using the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 is a very quick way to get photos uploaded to Picasa for sharing with others. If you're not within range of a Wi-Fi network, you can still save the photos on the SD card and transfer them in more traditional ways (either via USB cable or SD card reader).

The regular features on the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 are also very nice - the 10x optical zoom lets you get closer to objects without having to be right next to them, and the 3in display gave us awesome views of the photos we took. The display is so good that it deceived us into thinking we were better photographers - only after we uploaded the images to Picasa did we see that some of the shots needed to be corrected for colour, brightness, etc.

The Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50's Intelligent Auto mode is great for nonprofessional photographers. The technology is a group of functions that automatically do things such as face detection, intelligent exposure and scene selectors, making for the best possible photos. The only time we changed from that mode to a different one was for the "Sports" scene option, to try and capture a fast-moving toddler.

Some caveats: the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 cannot connect to Wi-Fi networks that require browser-based authentication, which includes sites such as hotels, airports and many corporate networks. Because there's no browser on the camera, connections to networks that require a browser are not possible. This is a shame, because business users would greatly benefit from a digital camera that could connect quickly to a corporate Wi-Fi network for uploading, saving time and energy by eliminating the need to transfer photos via USB or memory card reader. Hopefully Panasonic can find a way to get the camera to connect to more networks other than home networks.

In the states, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 can connect to dedicated T-Mobile hotspots. Hopefully a similar service will be provided in the UK when the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 launches.

We also experienced a couple of system glitches - there were times when we couldn't access our home network, experiencing an IP address allocation error (without much explanation on the camera's part).

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Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50: Specs

  • 9.1Mp CCD
  • 10x optical zoom
  • 28mm wide-angle Leica DC lens
  • built-in Wi-Fi
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • 3in LCD screen
  • 0.8kg
  • 9.1Mp CCD
  • 10x optical zoom
  • 28mm wide-angle Leica DC lens
  • built-in Wi-Fi
  • Optical Image Stabilisation
  • 3in LCD screen
  • 0.8kg

OUR VERDICT

The future is bright for Wi-Fi on digital cameras, and the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ50 is leading the way. If Panasonic can find ways to get access to additional Wi-Fi networks (especially corporate networks), mobile workers who take a lot of photos will find this a must-have tool.

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