Nikon is set to be first to launch a consumer digital camera which has the built-in ability to transfer pictures from camera to computer or printer wirelessly using Wi-Fi technology.

Wi-Fi technology allows images to be transferred between devices using radio signals (ie without any connection cables) ? a feature previously confined to high-end digital SLRs.

Nikon?s eight-million-pixel Coolpix P1 and 5.1MP Coolpix P2 will be the first to feature built-in Wi-Fi capability and are both due out at the end of September, priced around £350 and £280 respectively.

They will beat Kodak?s Wi-Fi-enabled EasyShare-One, a 4MP model first announced back in January but whose launch has been delayed. It will not now be available to buy until October.

However, unlike the EasyShare-One, Nikon?s P1 and P2 will not be able to email or transfer images wirelessly to the internet.

Both Nikon models feature built-in Wi-Fi LAN (Local Area Network) support. This will only allow the photographer to send pictures stored on the camera?s memory card or internal memory direct to a chosen computer that is set up for wireless connection, or to a compatible PictBridge printer using an optional wireless printer adapter (due out in October at a price yet to be announced).

This should mean that a photographer can transfer images direct from the Nikon cameras to a laptop up to 30m away ? provided the computer is equipped with a Wi-Fi card. This wireless range depends, explains Nikon, on the environment. Also, the receiving computer must be running Nikon?s PictureProject image management software (which comes with the P1 and P2).

Kodak?s EasyShare-One ? which was expected to land in shops three months ago ? is designed to transfer pictures wirelessly when equipped with a Wi-Fi card.

But it differs from Nikon?s P1 and P2 in that it enables users to email images direct from the camera, transfer them to the internet, as well as to a compatible printer equipped with a Wi-Fi card.

When equipped with the Wi-Fi card, the camera is designed to wirelessly connect to Kodak?s internet-based EasyShare Gallery service through a compatible Wi-Fi network at home or access points (also known as hotspots) located in some public areas such as cafes.

Such technology is already used by press photographers, for example, to wire their images direct to newspaper picture desks.

The Kodak camera ? originally planned for launch in June (see AP 29 January 2005) ? will cost £399.99 including Wi-Fi card.

The EasyShare-One boasts 256MB of internal memory, whereas the Nikon P1 and P2 boast 32MB and 16MB respectively.

Kodak?s camera sports a Schneider-Kreuznach lens designed to deliver the 35mm film camera viewing angle equivalent of a 36-108mm lens, while the P1 and P2 both feature a 36-126mm equivalent optic. Nikon?s Coolpix P1 will only be on sale at Jessops stores.

Kodak hopes that its technology will encourage more people to share their images with friends and family.