Thursday, August 13, 2009

Samsung's DualView Cameras: About Face

Maybe it's a response to an epidemic of digital narcissism or maybe it's just a tip of the hat to the explosive growth of me-centric social networking sites. Either way, Samsung's new DualView digital cameras--the first ever with a second LCD screen on the front--seem to beg the question, "Now why didn't I think of that?"

The point is simple: The LCD on the front lets you frame self-portraits correctly instead of using the old "point-and-pray" method.

At a press event at New York's Time Warner Center, Samsung introduced its first two 12.2-megapixel DualView cameras, both of which feature 1.5-inch displays on the front in addition to larger touchscreens on the back. The TL 220 ($300) and TL225 ($350) come with 4.6X optical zoom lenses and 3.5-inch (TL225) or 3-inch (TL220) rear touchscreens.

Aside from being larger, the rear display of the TL225 is also sharper, with a resolution of 1.1 megapixels as opposed to the 230,000-pixel resolution of the rear display on the TL220.

As you frame the shot, the front LCD indicates whether the camera's face-recognition technology has locked onto your face and the smile-detection feature will snap your photo as soon as it detects an upside-down frown and your pearly whites.

Tim Baxter, co-president of Samsung Electronics America, said that instead of just taking photos of others, today's American camera user is more likely to put himself into his photos and share them.

"The role of the photographer has shifted," said Baxter, who added that camera makers "... cannot get by with selling a box that just takes pictures."

The front display turns on by tapping it and most camera adjustments are handled by the rear touchscreen, which vibrates to give tactile feedback when a button is touched. The camera also has a Gravity Sensor that lets you select functions by tilting the camera in the direction of the icon you want to activate.

Some of the functions of the camera's Smart Gesture user interface are truly intuitive. For example, to delete a photo, you simply draw an invisible "X" through it with your fingertip. The camera remembers up to 20 faces and will give exposure preference to the most frequently photographed faces.

If you engage the self timer, the front LCD will display a digital countdown. The front LCD can also be switched to a "child mode" in which it will display a cheerful, colorful cartoon designed to get children to look at the camera and smile.

"It's kind of a modern adaptation of 'look at the birdie,' " said Reid Sullivan, senior vice president of Samsung Electronics America.

The units, which will go on sale in September, are available in red, blue, silver, orange and purple.

Does a second LCD make sense to you?

Text Copyright 2009 Stadium Circle Features
Photo courtesy of Samsung Electronics America

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