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Samsung PL90 Overview

Posted: 08/04/2010

Samsung's PL90 digital camera is aimed at the photographer who frequently spends time away from home, and relies on friends' computers or public workstations to keep in touch with online friends. At its August 2010 announcement, most specifications for the Samsung PL90 have yet to be revealed, with only a brief outline of the PL90's features and functionality so far available.

What we do know is that the Samsung PL90 is based around a twelve megapixel image sensor, and includes a Samsung-branded 4x optical zoom lens that provides 35mm-equivalent focal lengths ranging from a useful 28mm wide angle to a 112mm telephoto. Images are framed and reviewed on a 2.7-inch LCD display with 230,000 dot resolution, roughly equivalent to a 320 x 240 pixel array.

The PL90 includes face detection capability, which is used not only when determining focus and exposure, but also allows the camera to provide a skin-smoothing Beauty Shot function, a post-capture Red-Eye Fix feature, and the ability to capture a photo automatically when your subject smiles, then warn if anybody blinked during the exposure. The PL90's contrast detection autofocus also includes a tracking function that follows moving subjects around the frame.

The Samsung PL90 has a selection of scene modes aimed at keeping things approachable for beginner photographers while still offering a degree of control over images, plus a Smart Auto mode which automatically selects a scene mode as appropriate -- even for movies. There's also a Smart Album feature that allows images to be searched for based on the date and time, or unusually, the predominant color in the image.

As well as still image capture, the Samsung PL90 includes a VGA standard-definition 15 / 30 frames-per-second video mode. Its standout feature, though, has to be the built-in USB jack (type unspecified), which allows the camera to be plugged directly into a computer without any cables -- at least, if there's enough room around the USB port to do so. (On computers where the USB ports are clustered together, this may require unplugging some or all of the other ports, to be able to fit the camera against a free port.)

Once connected, this built-in USB jack allows the PL90 to be mounted by the computer -- presumably without any drivers by using the USB Mass Storage device class, although the specs don't mention this detail. Data can then be transferred directly to and from the computer, just as it would ordinarily be, but without the need for a USB cable. In addition, the PL90's internal memory includes Samsung's intelli-studio imaging utility, which has been included with some of the company's past products, and includes the ability to view and make basic edits to photos and videos, then to upload them directly to Facebook, Flickr, and YouTube. Samsung intelli studio is set to automatically install itself using the autorun feature present on many PCs, if not already present, and past models have included the ability to disable this feature if you'd prefer not to install the software. This is likely to still be the case on the PL90, as is the fact that the software has to date been available only for Windows computers.

Perhaps of the most utility, though, is the fact that the Samsung PL90 is compatible with USB charging. This means that, so long as you have time to wait for it to recharge on the computers you'll be using, you needn't bring cables or chargers of any kind, beyond perhaps a USB extension cable to save the day when you can't fit the camera in the USB port of a particular machine. No details were available on charging duration or battery life at press time.

Pricing for the Samsung PL90 is set at around US$150, and availability is slated for September 2010.