Coolpix L610 camera, by Nikon Inc.
$146 at Amazon.com
For dead simple, dirt-cheap photography, this handy little 16-megapixel camera from Nikon is a pretty good choice. It has a small body, a long lens, and an ample array of features.
Nikon managed to squeeze in a 14X optical zoom lens, to let you shoot crisp close-ups from the other side of a large room. It also supports 1080p high-definition video shooting and has an HDMI connection so you can show the videos on your TV set.
The three-inch rear video display provides good sharp previews of your shots. The controls include a host of preset options for different kinds of shooting, whether you’re photographing sunsets, sunrises, a landscape, even a banquet.
All of it is powered with a couple of AA batteries. You never have to plug in a recharger, and spare batteries are available pretty much everywhere.
Given this camera’s low price, there’s no built-in Wi-Fi or GPS, and the video screen isn’t touch-controlled. No matter; the Coolpix L610 is still a solid choice for the casual shooter.
Galaxy Camera, by Samsung Corp.
$499.99 at AT&T.com
You’ve heard of Samsung’s popular Galaxy smartphones and tablets. Now it has attached the name to one of the company’s oddest and coolest products yet, one that combines a mini-tablet computer with a sharp and sophisticated camera.
On the backside, you find a 4-inch screen. Fire it up and you get the latest edition of Google Inc.’s Android software. You can connect to a nearby Wi-Fi signal for Internet access or sign up for access to AT&T’s 4G LTE cellular data network. You can’t use the camera to make cellphone calls. But you can scour the Internet, send and receive e-mail, or get turn-by-turn driving directions, with help from the Camera’s GPS chip.
Touch the camera icon and out rolls a huge lens with 21X optical zoom. It takes beautiful pictures, which you can instantly share over the phone’s wireless connection. In addition, the phone software includes voice commands that let you change the zoom setting or fire the shutter with your voice instead of your finger.
I’m not sure which mad genius at Samsung dreamed up the Galaxy Camera, but it warrants a raise. This is one of the most original tech gadgets of the year.
Wanderous travel app
Free for a limited time for Apple iOS devices
Those of us with Android phones have sampled the pleasures of Field Trip, an app that guides users to points of interest as they travel through the world. Here’s a similar piece of software created with iPhone and iPad owners in mind.
Open Wanderous and you’ll see a map of your current location. You’ll find icons indicating nearby places that might strike your fancy, including public landmarks, museums, and hotels. Touch an icon, and get a map to direct you there. You can also get a link to other Internet sites with related information. You might be directed to a set of photos of the place, hosted at the Flickr online photo service, or get detailed information from Wikipedia.
Wanderous is an interesting but limited app. While travelers will appreciate the guidance it provides, I wish it provided guidance to restaurants, retailers, and other mundane commercial venues. Man does not live by tourism alone. Still, Wanderous is a handy tool for discovering the hidden attractions that surround us all.Hiawatha Bray can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.