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A couple of weeks ago I looked at the Samsung ST1000, an ultra-compact digital camera equipped with the touch-screen interface, built-in GPS, Bluetooth and WiFi features more usually found on a modern mobile phone. Samsung is clearly keen on this idea, because today's camera also features mobile phone technology, with a second LCD monitor on the front of the camera.
At first glance the Samsung ST500 looks like any other mid-range ultra-compact digital camera. It has a slim body measuring 99.8 x 59.8 x 19.1mm, and is fairly light, weighing just 160g including battery and memory card. The body is made of plastic, but the build quality is reasonably good. The camera is only available in black, with a metallic trim in red, blue or silver.
The back of the camera holds a three-inch wide-screen format touch-sensitive LCD panel with a resolution of 230k dots. This is smaller than the touch screen on the ST1000, and the camera comes with a small and very losable stylus to operate the rather small on-screen buttons. However at least the smaller screen leaves plenty of room on the back for a decent sized thumb grip area.
The camera's gimmick is its second LCD monitor which is hidden beneath the transparent surface of the front panel, to the left of the lens. When not in use the display is almost invisible beneath the tinted black surface, but shines through when activated. The idea of the second display is to make it easier to frame self-portrait shots. It's a fairly low resolution display, with only 61,000 dots, but if you're a couple of metres away that doesn't make much difference.