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South Korean industrial giant Samsung is the world's largest conglomerate corporation, with subsidiaries making everything from satellites to supertankers. This means that its consumer electronics products, including its large and growing range of digital cameras, are made almost entirely from components produced by other branches of the same company, and therefore cost Samsung far less than equivalent cameras made by other companies, who have to buy in components such as LCD monitor screens, Lithium-ion batteries and zoom lenses from third-party suppliers. As a result Samsung is able to turn out relatively high-spec cameras for the price of other brands' budget models.
Take today's review camera for example. The PL55 is a mid-range point-and-shoot compact camera featuring a 5x optical zoom lens (equivalent to approximately 35-175mm), a 12.2-megapixel CCD sensor and a 2.7-inch LCD monitor. It has a solidly made all-metal body and is available in black, silver or the Fuchsia pink seen above. The specification may not sound that remarkable, but when you consider the PL55's price of just £105 it represents a lot of camera for your money.
However while Samsung can do cheap mass production better than almost anyone, its design department still has plenty of room for improvement, and the PL55 has as many bad points as good ones. In some ways it's very good; the overall build quality is excellent and the styling is attractive and contemporary. It is nice and light, and the smooth rounded shape slips easily into a shirt pocket. However the control layout on the back leaves no room for the thumb, and the shiny gloss finish is very slippery and difficult to grip securely despite the vestigial finger-grip on the front. The LCD monitor is impressively sharp with a good fast refresh rate, but it has a restricted angle of view and is very prone to reflection and glare, making it difficult to see in sunlight.