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Samsung DualView ST550(TL225)
It's not easy for a camera manufacturer to come up with that one killer feature that will set its shooter apart from the crowded pack. Samsung has done just that with by adding an LCD to the front of the 12.2-megapixel Samsung DualView TL225 ($349.99 list). Acting as a forward-facing viewfinder, the second display gives you an easy way to capture self-portraits. An innovative idea, but you can't help but wonder if this camera is a one-trick pony. Thankfully, it's notâ€”the combination of an excellent user interface, a high-resolution 3.5-inch, touch-screen LCD, and stellar image quality help make the TL225 our latest Editors' Choice point-and-shoot camera. Measuring 2.4 by 3.9 by .73 (HWD), the TL225's thin body is a sleek black with a ring of color (purple, orange, red or blue), and doesn't include many physical controls. Along the top of the camera, you'll find the shutter release, a Power button, a Play button, and a Zoom slider. With its $299.95 (list) Coolpix S60, Nikon made the mistake of omitting physical Zoom controls, instead putting the Zoom slider on the touch screen, which makes zooming much more difficult when you're framing shots. With a focal length of 27-124.2mm (35mm equivalent) and maximum aperture of f/3.5-5.9, the TL225 offers an impressive 4.6x zoom range. The 27mm wide-angle lens is a nice addition; you can fit more into the frame without having to further distance yourself from your subject.
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Two Displa ys are Better than One While the camera's bonus front LCD is the attention grabber here, the 3.5-inch touch-screen display that dominates the back panel is also very impressive. With 1,152K dots and 800-by-480-pixel resolution, it's the sharpest display you'll find on any camera. Its resolution even trumps the LCDs on high-end smartphones like the Apple iPhone 3GS and the Palm Pre. By comparison, top-tier point-and-shoot cameras, like the $330 Sony Cyber-shot DSC-T700, typically include 230K-dot displays, while high-end D-SLRs, such as the Canon EOS Rebel T1i ($899.99 list) usually pack 921K dots. Images on the TL225's LCD are incredibly crisp with excellent contrast and color. In my tests, I never had any trouble seeing the display while indoors or in bright sunlight. The screen also offers haptic feedback, so the camera vibrates gently when you press one of its on-screen buttons, so you know you've made contact. The touch-screen is extremely responsive and navigating the user interface is a breeze.
At 1.5-inches, the front-facing LCD is small and with 61K dots, it's significantly lowerresolution than the main display, but it's more than enough to let you know if you and your buddies are in the frame. The LCD is located to the left of the lens, and tapping it turns it on and off. Also, it turns on automatically when one of three front-displayenabled shooting modes are activated: Self Portrait, Self Timer, or Children. The latter of which shows an animated clown intended to get kids to smile for the camera. (Heck, it even worked on me!)
Performance Results Speed results for the TL225 are a mixed bag: You can power up the camera and snap a picture in an average of 2.28 seconds, while the wait time between shots is only 2.37 seconds. Using Shooting Digital's Shutter Lag Test, the TL225 averaged an underwhelming .63 seconds for shutter press to image capture. This is a bit of a drag considering that the $330 Canon PowerShot SD980 IS cuts this time down to .44 seconds, while the very-speedy Panasonic Lumix DMC-ZR1 ($280) averaged just . 32 seconds of lag. The camera takes fantastic pictures and thus showed good results in our photo lab. Imatest indicated some distortion at each lens position, but not enough to cause images to warp significantly. At its wide-angle position (27mm), 1.67 percent of the image is affected by barrel distortion. The Panasonic ZR1 had similar results at its widest angle (25mm) with 1.70 percent; distortion nearly doubled to 2.97 percent with the Canon SD980 IS (at 24mm). There's some pincushion distortion at the TL225's telephoto position, but it's insignificant at 1.34 percent. Shots taken with the TL225 are sharp at the center of the frame, averaging 2116 lines per picture height. Moving towards the outside regions, the sharpness drops by 42 percentâ€“better than the Canon SD980's 56 percent drop or the 52 percent drop
with the Panasonic ZR1. The TL225 does a fine job of handling noise too. In my tests, the camera produced usable images up to ISO 800. The TL225 can shoot 720p high-definition video at 30 frames per second. Like its sibling, the Samsung SL820, footage from the TL225 looks and sounds great, but audio is muted while zooming to avoid picking up the lens motor hum. Also, if you use the optical zoom while recording, the lens can't refocus. Using a proprietary HDMI cable, the camera can display high-def video on an HDTV, and even supports Consumer Electronics Control (CEC), so you can use your compatible television remote to navigate through the menus on the attached camera. Like the HDMI cable, the USB cable also includes a proprietary connector, but the camera can also charge its battery via USB. The Canon SD980 IS includes standard mini USB and mini HDMI ports, which are more convenient, and the accompanying cables are easier to replace. The TL225 writes to microSDHC cards, omitting the standard SDHC card slot found in most other digital cameras. Used in most cell phones, I wouldn't be surprised to see microSDHC become commonplace in digital cameras in the near future. But if you have standard-size SD or SDHC cards from an old camera, you're out of luck here. We don't formally test camera battery life, but you should keep in mind that the TL225 does have two LCDs, and one of them is a big, high-res screen that could potentially suck a lot of power. While it wasn't a huge problem, I did have to charge my TL225 a couple of times during the week-long test period. With solid image quality, an incredibly sharp and responsive touch-screen LCD, and an innovative front-mounted display for self-portraits, the Samsung DualView TL225 delivers a stellar shooting experience, so it's our latest Editors' Choice point-andshoot camera. But if $350 is out of your price range, Samsung offers a moreaffordable DualView camera, the TL220 ($299.99 list), with the same feature set save for HDMI connectivity and an ultra-high resolution display. BENCHMARK TEST RESULTS: Check out the test scores for the Samsung DualView TL225 Compare the digital cameras mentioned above side by side.