Wireless access is a key theme of this year's CES, and Panasonic is playing the game. The company has announced that it is working on the development of a Lumix-branded camera with Wi-Fi connectivity.
To date, no name has been given to the new model, and Panasonic is only showing off a prototype at the Las Vegas show. However the company is expected to reveal more at the Photo Marketing Association (PMA) trade show in February.
Access to T-Mobile hotspots
What we do know right now is that Panasonic has agreed a deal with T-Mobile that will allow users of the new camera to access the T-Mobile HotSpot service free of charge to upload pictures directly to Google's Picasa image sharing website.
No intermediary device will be needed and users will be able to use the new Lumix to check that the upload process has worked properly.
T-Mobile's HotSpot service is available at airports and railway stations across the UK, as well as in several high street chains such as Starbucks and Borders.
Panasonic has said that users of the new wireless Lumix will be granted free (albeit camera-specific) access to the T-Mobile service for 12 months after initially purchasing their camera. There's no word on how much it will cost after that period expires, but we hope it will be cheaper than T-Mobile's web'n'walk mobile internet service, which is available to Flext customers for a flat £12.50 per month.
From the limited information available, it would appear that the direct upload service will only work with Picasa at present, which could put hardcore Flickr and Photobucket (opens in new tab) users off.
Should the camera's connectivity extend to other image-sharing websites, then this could prove a popular move for Panasonic all-round.
The Lumix range is already well regarded within the photographic community. And the idea of simplifying the upload process will doubtless appeal to many, particularly those on their travels, looking to document their adventures without undue fuss and time-wasting in internet cafes.