The Samsung WB650 is nigh identical to its £50 cheaper WB600 sibling doing the rounds, the difference being that this camera adds GPS to an effective 12.2Mp resolution, 24mm wide-angle lens and 15x optical zoom. So there's an antennae and adjacent GPS on/off switch added relatively unobtrusively to the edge of the Samsung's top plate, and a slight curve to one side of the faceplate in lieu of a grip.

It's also the only camera in our recent digital camera group test to offer an AMOLED rear display rather than regular LCD, for theoretically more clearly defined viewing, and costs £50 less than the only rival in that round-up to also offer GPS, the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20. So many will consider the WB650 a budget alternative to the Panasonic.

As with the Casio Exilim EX-H30 model, the Samsung's video resolution is pegged at 1280x720 pixels, albeit at 30fps with stereo sound and again featuring a dedicated record button.

Though generally sturdy, we weren't sold on the rather plasticky controls or general styling of this camera. However, we were pleasantly surprised to find a selection of hands-on controls. This includes newly-added aperture priority and shutter priority shooting modes to the top plate dial, plus, with a press of the bottom edge of the rear command pad, even a degree of control over manual focusing via a distance slider/toolbar, running from macro (as close as 3cm) to infinity.

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You also get a broader-than-average light sensitivity range starting at ISO 80 and peaking at ISO 3200 at full resolution, plus the ability to individually adjust contrast, sharpness and saturation levels, if shooting in Program mode and selecting the Image Adjust option.

As with almost any compact digital camera, there's also an option to simply point and shoot if you prefer. A choice of Smart Auto, regular Auto and Program Auto shooting modes is provided.

Samsung WB650

To use the on-camera map feature that forms part of the stated GPS options, this must be first downloaded from the Samsung website and installed. As a result the whole concept isn't as user-friendly as it might be. Image-wise, colours really stand out and edge-to-edge detail is well maintained, although there are familiar issues such as visible pixel fringing between areas of high contrast and burnt out highlights under strong sunshine.

At the time of writing we found an online price of just over £180 for the WB650. That's quite a considerable drop from its manufacturer's £299 asking price on launch that makes it something of a bargain in present company if you're not fussed about a stylish exterior.

Samsung WB650: Specs

  • 15x optical zoom, 24-360mm equivalent
  • Max photo resolution: 12.1 megapixels
  • Max video resolution: 1280x720 pixels
  • 3in, VGA quality LCD
  • ISO 80 to 3200
  • Battery life: 200 shots per charge (GPS on), or 275 shots GPS off
  • 128MB internal capacity
  • SD/SDHC card
  • 107x61x28mm
  • 214.6g without battery and card
  • 15x optical zoom, 24-360mm equivalent
  • Max photo resolution: 12.1 megapixels
  • Max video resolution: 1280x720 pixels
  • 3in, VGA quality LCD
  • ISO 80 to 3200
  • Battery life: 200 shots per charge (GPS on), or 275 shots GPS off
  • 128MB internal capacity
  • SD/SDHC card
  • 107x61x28mm
  • 214.6g without battery and card

OUR VERDICT

While we don’t feel the Samsung WB650's functionality is quite as well implemented as the Panasonic Lumix DMC-TZ20's, the price differential may well tip the balance in its favour for hard hit consumers.

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