Jan. 25, 2011 at 1:13 PM ET
The good news is, your phone is now your primary camera. The bad news is, you can't get your phone wet. Or dusty. Or too cold. And you sure as heck can't drop the thing into a rocky crevasse and expect it to ever work again. Because of this, it may be time to buy a rugged camera, especially now that the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TS3 is on the way.
Its specs will impress everyone except that Bear Grylls guy: It's shockproof up to 6.6 feet and waterproof to 40 feet, 10 feet deeper than its predecessor. It's dustproof, and even freeze-proof down to 14 degrees Fahrenheit. It has GPS for geo-tagging images, and an altimeter, barometer and compass, mostly so you can tell your friends it has an altimeter, barometer and compass.
Meanwhile, it's actually a nice camera. It has a 4.3X zoom lens and takes high-definition 1080p video, 12-megapixel stills and even 3-D images by choosing the best two images from a 20-shot burst. While I generally favor Canon point-and-shoots, both Panasonic and Sony also tend to perform quite well. When it comes to rugged cameras, Panasonic is the king of the jungle.
It'll be available in March, and Panasonic hasn't announced how much it will cost. We can guess, though: Its predecessor, the TS2, lists for $350, and is now selling for $300, so the TS3 can't cost too much more.