The sleek 8-megapixel Nikon Coolpix S51c includes wireless LAN connectivity for around £170. Wireless has been the future for a while now, and although we love the idea of being able to share images from our cameras to the Web so far the idea hasn't really caught on.
The question is whether it's the Wi-Fi or the cameras that have been the weak link in the wireless chain, and whether the S51c will be a wireless wonder.
The curved aluminium form feels slinky, although unusually, the chunky part is on the left rather than forming a grip for the right hand. We're not sold on lenses placed in the top left corner, as fingers can creep into shot. The S51c boasts a non-protruding right-angle optical 3x Zoom-Nikkor lens, with a slightly underwhelming 35mm equivalent of 38-114mm.
Functions are controlled with a rotary multi-selector -- or scroll wheel -- that is far and away our favourite thing about the Nikon compact line. We also like the enormous 76mm (3-inch) LCD monitor.
Compact cameras with one unusual feature occasionally neglect other features. The S51c packs optical image stabilisation into its slim frame, along with face detection and a maximum sensitivity of ISO 1,600. You have the option to shoot in 16:9 widescreen, at 1,920x1,080-pixel and 3,200x1,800-pixel resolutions. We also like the fun stop-motion video option.
The S51c's big draw is its wireless ability. A one-touch picture mail button sends your photos off by email. The idea is that you will upload your pictures to the Nikon My Picturetown photo-sharing site, but because the S51c is email-based you can send images to any site that features email upload, or to your own or your friends' email accounts.
Setting up your wireless preferences is slightly fiddly as you have to use the scroll wheel to enter letters, similar to high-score screens on videogames. You only have to do it once, however. Once the Wi-Fi feature is set up, it's a simple matter of pressing the dedicated picture mail button atop the camera to send the image. When Wi-Fi is not available, the camera queues the images for when it does find a hotspot. This is a clever feature that rescues the S51c from being hamstrung by the availability -- or want -- of Wi-Fi.
The S51c's one-touch picture-mail button, straightforward setup and the fact that plugging the S51c in to recharge automatically uploads images to your MyPicturetown account are all sound ideas. But although the Wi-Fi functions within the camera itself are well-implemented, it's let down by other elements.