A digital compact with multimedia playback and a travel guide. (No kitchen sink, however.)
Samsung's i8 is a digital camera that has a host of unusual features including multimedia playback and a travel guide. While it does a decent job as an imaging device, the extra features are mediocre at best; we'd recommend sticking with a stand-alone portable media player if at all possible.
- Sharp images, good noise performance, media functionality may be useful to some
- Poor audio quality, sluggish performance at times, colour balance a little off, attracts fingerprints very easily
While Samsung's i8 is a fairly decent digital camera, its media functionality could use a little improvement (particularly in terms of audio quality).
Price$ 299.00 (AUD)
We were pleasantly surprised to find that while the unit itself doesn't have a 3.5mm headphone jack, it does come with an adapter for one. This allows you to use your own headphones rather than the rather poor ear buds that are included. Unfortunately, even when testing with a high quality pair of in-ear headphones the audio was less than satisfactory. It was extremely muddled, lacking detail and clarity. The bass had little presence, while the mid range was too strongly emphasised. Casual listeners may find it passable, but anyone who enjoys good quality sound will be disappointed.
In addition to MP3 support, video files can also be played after being converted using the included software. While videos also suffer from poor sound quality, the screen is a little more impressive and should prove adequate for basic media use. There is also a text viewer which some may find useful. The files you want to view or listen to can just be dumped in an appropriately named directory on your SD card.
The other notable inclusion is Samsung's travel guide, which is designed to give you some basic tips on places to go in different parts of the world. While it may sound cool, it's really just a bit of a gimmick; there's nothing there you won't find in a standard Lonely Planet guide. It's often going to be easier to just pull out a book than navigate through a camera menu.
As a camera, however, the unit performs relatively well. It has an 8.2-megapixel sensor that captures fairly sharp, crisp shots. They were a little over-sharpened at times, but on the whole we were satisfied with the clarity. Chromatic aberration caused some purple fringing outdoors and fairly strong haloing on high contrast edges, which while problematic wasn't surprising.
Colours weren't perfectly rendered, with most coming out somewhat pale. Disappointingly there are no colour modes to pick from (vivid, natural, soft etc.), but there is a manual white balance which did prove useful. Image noise was kept well under control until ISO 800, at which point some detail loss began to occur. However, even that sensitivity image quality will be okay for small prints.
The speed of the i8 was a little disappointing. Its shutter lag was a touch sluggish at 0.12sec and it took a fairly hefty 2.5sec to start up. Its burst mode was also slow at 1.8 frames per second. Fortunately shot-to-shot time was quite quick at 1.9sec.
A decent number of features are thrown in. Face detect is included, and although there is no optical image stabilisation there is a digital substitute. Aside from that everything is fairly standard, with a few scene modes and bracketing options as well as metering choices.
Aesthetically the i8 is reasonably attractive, with a glossy black body and rounded edges. Unfortunately it does attract its fair share of fingerprints. We found the controls a little fiddly at times, with some buttons sticking and being generally difficult to press. We also felt a back button should have been present, as some of the menus can be tough to navigate without it.
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