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Anyone who's been shopping for a new mobile phone recently can't have failed to notice that they aren't just phones any more. The latest handsets have more computing power and data storage capacity than most home computers did five years ago, and include advanced features such as mobile internet and email, touch-screen controls, GPS satellite navigation, WiFi, Bluetooth, and of course ever more powerful digital cameras. It's not too surprising therefore that this same technology is finding its way into the digital camera market too, especially when one of the major camera companies is also one of the leading manufacturers of mobile phones.
Samsung's new ST1000 looks like any other ultra-slim compact camera, and has a photographic specification which, while undeniably good, is hardly going to set pulses racing. It has a 12.2-megapixel CCD sensor and a corner-mounted 5x zoom lens (equivalent to 35-175mm) with dual optical and digital image stabilisation, features which are matched by any of about a dozen rival models. It has a nice slim shape, measuring just 18.9mm thick, with an attractive and nicely finished plastic body that is comfortable to hold and available in a range of two-tone colour combinations. So far, so ordinary.
However it is the ST1000's extra features that set it apart, because it combines a range of high-tech gizmos that are more usually found in advanced mobile phones. The most obvious is the big 1,152k 3.5-inch touch-screen monitor, the highest resolution of any current digital camera, (thanks douglas!) which occupies almost the entire back of the camera, but it also features a built-in GPS receiver for automatic location tagging, high-speed Wireless internet and Bluetooth connectivity, and DNLA home network compatibility, used for viewing photos on TVs and other devices that support this standard.
Of course all that advanced technology does push the price up; the ST1000 is currently selling for around £270, which puts it into the top price bracket for digital compacts, alongside models such as the Canon IXUS 990IS or the Sony DSC-T900. That's a lot of money for what is essentially a fairly basic point-and-shoot compact.