- Fills a variety of roles, stylish design, natural colour balance
- Media player has issues, travel guide is very basic, slow operation, some minor image quality issues
Samsung's i85 tries to do a few too many things at once and falls into the 'jack of all trades, master of none' trap. While it is an adequate still camera, if you're looking for solid travel or media functionality you best look elsewhere.
Price$ 449.00 (AUD)
\With the multitude of convergent devices available these days it's difficult for companies to come up with any original features to differentiate their product (where are you breakfast maker?). However with the i85 digital camera Samsung has done just this, bundling both media player functionality and a world travel guide with the device.
The real question is are they worth using? And sadly the answer appears to be no. While both do have limited usefulness neither will serve as a replacement for any sort of real travel guide or media player.
The travel guide is extremely basic offering rudimentary descriptions and pictures of big travel hotspots, but nothing on more remote or lesser known locations. Anyone travelling overseas will miss out if they don't take something a little more robust.
Similarly the media player is poorly implemented with videos suffering on the relatively low resolution screen and audio lacking due to the 2.5mm headphone jack. If users want an all-in-one solution then these features might be passable, but we'd recommend a stand-alone media player like the iPod if you plan on using it regularly. MP3 files are supported for music, and XviD for video (although you can convert MPEG files using Samsung's conversion software for use as well).
These issues are a shame as the i85 is a reasonable camera. Its 8-megapixel sensor captures reasonably crisp shots and while they weren't quite as sharp as some competing models they do the job for small- and medium-sized prints. However, there was a fair amount of fringing and chromatic aberration evident which was noticeable regardless of magnification.
Noise wasn't too much of an issue at ISO 100 but even at ISO 200 it began to make an appearance. By ISO 400 our shots were quite grainy so we'd recommend sticking with lower sensitivities unless a little noise doesn't concern you.
Meanwhile the colour balance tended towards a softer, more natural feel. This was interesting because most consumer cameras present strongly saturated, overly bright pictures, so the somewhat pale shades produced by the i85 are a bit of an anomaly. Nonetheless the colour balance was quite pleasing overall.
Unfortunately speed wise this model is a little behind the game. It took around three seconds to startup which is just far too long and the lag between shots was 1.3 seconds. Shot-to-shot time was also sluggish at 2.2 seconds and the burst mode operates at a sedate two frames per second. These speed problems also carried over to the interface, with menu navigation stuttering noticeably at times.
Aside from the aforementioned media and travel features the i85 is a fairly standard compact camera. It packs in face detect and an anti-shake mode that helps take advantage of the 5x optical zoom. You can adjust colour, sharpness and contrast or take advantage of one of the 14 scene modes.
Aesthetically, the i85 is slim and comes in a gloss black colour scheme. It looks stylish although the chassis isn't exactly fingerprint friendly. The controls are simple although the interface is split up in a slightly confusing manner and could be a little more intuitive.
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