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Panasonic Lumix DMC-SZ5

Panasonic tests the Wi-Fi camera waters -- again -- by putting it in an uninteresting camera.

Lori Grunin/CNET

Back at CES 2012, Panasonic announced two ultracompact cameras with the same 10x f3.1-5.9 25-250mm lens, the Lumix DMC-SZ7 and DMC-SZ1. The SZ7 has some of Panasonic's better performance and imaging technologies, while the SZ1 is stripped-down, but $20 cheaper. Joining them, today, is the Lumix SZ5.

The SZ5 is, sadly, the SZ1 with built-in Wi-Fi. Why Panasonic chose the lesser of the two cameras to put Wi-Fi in, I'm still not entirely sure. If Panasonic is still testing the waters with Wi-Fi, why not put it in a camera with a better sensor, processor, and shooting capabilities? (It's far too late in the game to still be testing out Wi-Fi, too, but that's another story.)

Instead, Panasonic gave the SZ5 a slow 14-megapixel CCD sensor and an old image processor as well as Panasonic's last-generation autofocus and optical image stabilization systems.

Wi-Fi setup and use is supposedly improved from Panasonic's last Wi-Fi camera attempt, the Lumix FX90, but really there was nowhere to go but up.

All in all, it looks like instead of giving consumers the option to get a camera with some of Panasonic's latest technology and Wi-Fi, they have to choose if they want better photos and performance or Wi-Fi.

No pricing or availability was announced.

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