Motorola and Kodak introduce the new Zine series of camera phones.
Kent GermanFormer senior managing editor / features
Kent was a senior managing editor at CNET News. A veteran of CNET since 2003, he reviewed the first iPhone and worked in both the London and San Francisco offices. When not working, he's planning his next vacation, walking his dog or watching planes land at the airport (yes, really).
For a long time we've been begging Motorola to come up with something new, and now it appears the company has done just that. On Monday, Moto joined with Kodak in Beijing to announce a new line of camera phones called the Motorola Zine series. The first model, the ZN5, is no Razr, Krzr, or Rizr refresh; rather, it's a different approach (at least for Motorola) to the camera phone concept.
The ZN5 is not unique for the type of camera it offers, we've seen other 5-megapixel handsets before, but for everything else that goes with it. Integrated Wi-Fi will let you upload photos to the Kodak Gallery online service (formerly Ofoto) without having to transfer the images to a computer first. Moto promises the upload will require the press of just one button. The ZN5 also will come with Kodak's EasyShare software and the MotoTools software. Both will let you transfer photos to a PC for printing or processing. And if that isn't enough ways to get photos off your phone, the ZN5 also supports removable memory cards and Bluetooth file transfers.
The camera promises a full slate of editing features that you'd find a on a standalone shooter. These include a Xenon flash (According to Moto, it will be very bright), white balance and brightness settings, color tones, noise reduction, a panorama mode, a multi-shot mode, an auto-focus and a 4x digital zoom. You'll also find a sliding lens cover that when opened will switch the phone to camera mode automatically. And like many camera phones, the shutter and zoom controls will be on the top of the phone when you're taking photos in landscape mode. The idea here is to mimic the ergonomics of a real camera.
Moto was cagey on what kind of lens the ZN5 will have. A company representative only said that "he" (Carl Zeiss anyone?) is a well-known manufacturer. The representative also was a tad defensive when we inquired about the ZN5's pixel count. He replied that "it's not about megapixels." That may be true, but we don't think it needs to be said. And in any case, the accompanying photos show that's it's a 5.0-megapixel shooter. According to Moto, they've printed 16 inch by 20 inch photos to satisfying results. We'll save our assessment until we do our own testing.
Of course, the ZN5 is a phone too. It offers quad-band GSM and EDGE support, Moto's CrystalTalk technology, an FM radio, messaging, full Bluetooth, a speakerphone, a Moto music player, and personal organizer applications. The integrated 350MB of memory is healthy, but the ZN5 can accommodate microSD cards up to 4GB.
On the whole, the ZN5 sounds quite promising and we can't wait to see one in the flesh. Moto has yet to announce pricing or North American availability. Per the Beijing announcement, China will be the first market to get the phone. We'll be interested to see how the ZN5 stands up to Sony Ericsson CyberShot models like the K850i. The CyberShot handsets have a reliable record of integrating phone and camera features into one device, which is something the ZN5 is going for. In that regards, Moto is not the first company to take such an approach to the camera phone. Yet we admit that we're intrigued by the Kodak partnership, which is something we haven't seen before. According to Kodak, it had input into the entire ZN5 user experience, from the phone's camera to the related processing software. We'll give you a full report on the ZN5 one we get a model in our eager hands.