Samsung's slim snapper wants to be loved for its media skills as much as its papping ability. It's bagged a CES 2008 Innovation award – but will it get a Hot Buy?
Convergence, like the celebrity chef epidemic, has attacked us in many forms. Samsung's take on it is the i85: an ultra-compact camera that will also play movies and music from an SD card.
As you might expect, it doesn't do a top-drawer job of either, but it's not the worst media player we've seen. The 3in screen is also a little too smeary, washed out and low-res to compete with the likes of Archos.
Clever media controls
When switching the i85 into media player mode, slightly rubbish supplied headphones can be plugged into a 2.5mm jack socket on the side and the zoom rocker becomes a volume control, which is all very sensible. Well, not the part about the 2.5mm socket; that's always a stupid idea.
Getting video on is a case of loading MP4s onto an SD card – but you'll first want to convert your vids using the supplied software to make sure they're fully compatible. No such problems with MP3s, which play without any trouble.
Better as a snapper
As an 8MP camera it's a tad better – colours are natural and the extra girth it has compared to its competitors makes it easy to hold steady, but the cluttered control layout just gets confusing. There really isn't the need for so many buttons on what's essentially a point-and-shoot compact.
The 5x optical zoom is pretty impressive in such a small snapper and the face detection works reasonably well. The flash is a little harsh, though, making for unflattering party portraits.
One nice touch – and other manufacturers please take note – is that you don't need a conventional charger. In iPod-style there's a USB cable and a USB mains charger, so you use the same cable to connect to a computer and also to charge.
But for all its good points, we can't ignore the price of all this converged technology: £300 is simply too much for a pretty good compact camera. You're going to really have to want that extra media capability to splash that much cash.
Samsung i85 review
Not worth the extra money for the media ability, but a solid performer
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