As I've noted before, as the world's largest industrial corporation Samsung has a big advantage in the digital camera industry. Most manufacturers will buy components such as LCD monitors, rechargeable batteries and lens assemblies from third-party sources, but Samsung makes all of these components itself, which means it can produce relatively high spec cameras much more cheaply than its rivals.
A prime example is this PL80 ultra-compact, a mid-range model from Samsung's point-and-shoot range. It features a 12.2-megapixel sensor, 5x zoom lens with a 28mm-equivalent wide angle, a 2.7-inch 230k monitor and optical image stabilisation, and yet Samsung can afford to sell it for less than £130. However while Samsung may have a advantage in manufacturing it is still lagging behind its major rivals in the design department, because while the PL80 does offer some useful features for a relatively low price, it also suffers from a number of problems.
The PL80 shares most of its internal components with the cheaper PL55 which we reviewed a few months ago. It has the same sensor, the same monitor screen, same software and mostly the same features. However despite its superior specification the PL80 is slimmer and lighter than its stablemate. It's a nice looking camera, and the overall build quality is very good. The body is mostly plastic but the front panel is aluminium with a brushed texture, and it is available in either black or red. The controls are sensibly laid out and not too fiddly, and the camera is comfortable to handle, but as usual Samsung has labelled some of the buttons with etched silver-on-silver symbols that are hard to see in low light.