Motorola and Kodak Marry Expertise, Have Beautiful Child

It might surprise you to hear that I’m not a gadget freak. I’ve had the chance to review most new digital devices, and I own plenty of them, but I just don’t salivate over electronics very often. I don’t have an iPhone, for example, and perhaps more shocking, I don’t want one.

The Motorola ZN5, announced by Motorola and Kodak on Monday in Bejing, well that’s a different story. While I’ve not laid hands on it yet, the briefing with execs from both companies on Friday got me excited to own one. (I even asked if their China launch was limited to Mainland China or whether I might find a ZN5 in the shops while I’m in Taipei this week; alas, it’s not likely.)

Moto and Kodak have been collaborating on camera phones for a year or so now, and the ZN5 demonstrates the best that both companies have to offer. The 3G GSM phone has all the features you’d expect in a state of the art mobile phone. Slide the lens cover back, though, and the phone becomes a no-compromise digital camera. When in camera mode, the phone’s buttons become inactive and the camera buttons, placed where you’d expect to find them on a digital camera, are activated.

As beautiful as the phone design, it’s really the software that makes this 5 megapixel camera amazing. Tuned for this device, the Kodak image processing software does an amazing job of image correction so that you really don’t need to know anything about photography to take great pictures. The software is effectively identical to the software on the Kodak digital camera I use every day and I’ve found it to be incredibly forgiving of my picture taking.

The phone is bundled with Kodak desktop software to make it easy to get photos off the phone and into other applications. You can also size and manipulate images on the phone, then upload them seamlessly to Kodak’s services via any WiFi connection.

Often, when two great companies combine expertise, the product is a compromise of the capabilities of each. That doesn’t appear to be the case with the ZN5; it really is the best of both worlds.

The phone ships first in China, then in the U.S. and elsewhere around the world later this year and will be “extremely competitive” in price, according to Motorola executive.

I can’t wait.

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