The big talking point here, of course, is the flip-up screen. This rotates through 180-degrees, allowing you to stand in front of the camera and see what’s in-frame. Of course, you can also use it to take low- or high-angled shots with an on-board gyroscope ensuring that the image is always displayed the right way up.
The MV800 is extremely small and easily slots into a trouser pocket, which means there’s no reason to leave it behind. It’s nicely put together with a metal faceplate and a screen covered with toughened glass. It's not a super tough scratch-resistant brand such as Gorilla Glass though, so it would be wise to invest in a screen protector. A quick Google search reveals that there are already some available on Amazon and the like.
As with most small ultracompacts, there’s no finger or thumb grips although, sensibly, Samsung has left the area where your thumb sits free of any physical buttons so you’re unlikely to press anything by accident. Indeed, this being a touch-screen camera, physical buttons are few and far between anyway, with the Home and a Playback buttons on the back complimented by the main On/Off button and Zoom control/Shutter button on the top. Another shutter button is located under the screen for use when the screen is fully flipped up and thereby covering the main shutter button.
The top level of the camera menu is laid out in tiles, much like a Samsung Galaxy smartphone. Pressing one of these tiles ‘launches’ the shooting mode attached to it, which is nice and simple. Should you wish to get more involved or change more specific settings, you’ll need to use the touch-screen as a scroll wheel to cycle through the various options and this can a bit trickier to get the hang of.
All in all though, despite a bit of lag from the interface, we have few complaints as the MV800 is one of the more sensitive and intuitive touch-screen cameras we’ve used in recent months. We also like how the My Screen tool allows you to customise the shooting screen with your most regularly used settings too.
Start-up time from being switched off to having a shot ready is around four and a half seconds. The screen itself actually springs to life in around two seconds, but from here it takes, on average, a further two and half for the focus box to turn green. Things do speed up considerably after the MV800 is up and running, although AF performance still isn’t about to set any records, with the average time for the camera to achieve focus in normal daylight conditions hovering around the half-second mark.
Combined with approximately half a second of shutter lag, this means that you can expect the camera to actually record an image about one second after pointing the camera at it. Continuous shooting speed isn’t about to win any prizes either, with a maximum 1.4fps available. While this might all sound a terribly slow, it does need bearing in mind that these kinds of speeds (or lack thereof) are fairly common in point-and-shoot ultra-compacts like the MV800. In most casual shooting situations it really shouldn’t be a problem. That said, if having a camera with lightning-fast reflexes is a top priority then the MV800 certainly isn’t the right camera for you.
One thing that the MV800 does lack, and which we’d really like to see in a future release, is some kind of Wi-Fi ability, along with the ability to upload images directly to popular social networking sites. Samsung already offer these functions via the SH100 we reviewed a few months ago, and it would seem like a logical progression for the MV800 too. After all, the MV800 is clearly targeted at young sociable users who are likely to want to share their images with all their friends.
One final thing to bear in mind is that the MV800 takes microSD cards, which can be a bit fiddly and often require a dedicated card reader for uploading to laptops. You can, however, plug the camera directly into a computer using the supplied USB to micro-USB cord and transfer images in this way too.