- All-in-one device; can play videos and MP3s as well as take photos; touch screen menu interface
- Poor photo quality, has a 2.5mm headphone jack instead of 3.5mm, screen is uncomfortable for watching videos
If you're after a decent digital camera, there are better options on the market than this one. If you want an MP3 and video player that can also take a photo here or there, then the i7 can be considered, but it's not a high quality product.
Price$ 469.00 (AUD)
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When is a digital camera not a digital camera? When it's an MP3 and video player, too. In fact, Samsung's i7 is more of a personal media player with a 7.2-megapixel sensor built in for 'happy snaps' as an afterthought.
The designers of the i7 -- no doubt inspired by most camcorders' flip and touch screen features -- have tried to build something all-encompassing and useful, but in the end have created a product that's a little awkward to use and limited in its camera functionality.
To use the camera's media functions, and indeed the camera itself, you can simply flip the 3in screen into one of three positions: the default position will play music (as well as allow you to take stills in full Auto mode), the perpendicular (90-degree) position will play video files, while a 180-degree rotation will invoke full camera mode.
The screen position for video mode is a little uncomfortable, not to mention that it's easy to accidentally nudge it out of position and stop the playback, so it would've been nice if Samsung let go of this rotating screen novelty and included a clear menu system for changing modes instead. The basis for that is present, as the camera's on-screen menu interface, which can be controlled through the touch screen, is intuitive and responsive. The only problem is when you're out and about on a sunny day, you won't be able to clearly see all the menu settings on the screen.
As for quality, we'll start with the bad news first. The camera's picture quality is sub-standard. Images look grainy and dull and they're very soft. The shutter has two steps for focusing and taking a shot, but they're not distinctive. There aren't any settings to change manually, except for the ISO and white balance values -- you have to be content with the Scene modes that are available, which range from 'Nightscene' and 'Firework' to 'Children' and 'Beach&Snow'.
Moving on, MP3 playback (and video files) can be heard through the built-in speaker, but you're better off plugging in some headphones. However, not any old headphones can be used. Samsung has inexplicably included a 2.5mm jack, instead of a 3.5mm jack (maybe the extra millimetre posed design problems), so you'll either have to use the supplied headphones, or plug in a bulky 2.5-3.5mm adapter jack.
To this end, the i7 loses major points for inconvenience. Fortunately, the sound from the supplied headphones isn't all bad -- it's actually quite decent and well rounded. Files can be easily selected from the touch screen, and the controls are clear for navigating, changing playing modes (repeat and random) and equaliser settings. Unfortunately, a physical volume control is not available, so the screen has to be used to change volume, too. Conveniently, photos can be taken while music plays.
To watch videos on the camera, you must first convert your files using the supplied DigimaxConverter software. It's a little unintuitive; while you can drag and drop any DivX, XviD and MPEG2 videos in order to convert them to the i7's preferred playback format, you must set the output folder for each file individually, otherwise the output will be placed in the source folder. A central output location that's attributed to each file would be a better solution.
How long it takes to convert a video will depend on the speed and strength of your CPU. It'll consume about 40 per cent of a dual-core CPU during the conversion process. Then, it's a matter of creating a folder called "PMP" on your SD memory card and copying the converted files to it. Likewise, for MP3s, an MP3 folder must be created. (Note that protected iTunes songs can't be played back by the i7.)
Video quality was a little messy and suffered from slight audio lag. You'll also want to clean all the fingerprints off the screen before you watch anything.
All things considered though, the i7 is a handy (but not a good quality) gadget for anyone who wants a portable video and MP3 player that can also take and store happy snaps while on the run.
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