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Samsung NV40 Digital Camera Review$230.00
The NV40 is a svelte compact camera packaged in sturdy, if slightly miscolored, matte plastic. It's the perfect size to be thrown in a bag or a pocket for a day on the beach or a night out. The large front ridge and thumb pad both help with firmly holding the camera, and the LCD, while not large, is bright and viewable from just about any angle. The shiny top makes a nice accent, but attracts fingerprints and smears more than the rest of the camera body.
The front of the Samsung NV40 is crafted of smooth, purple-tinged plastic. The matte face of the camera is dominated by the large two-tiered extending lens on the right side, and by a stabilizing ridge on the left. The ridge is designed to give you something to grasp onto while holding the NV40, and to facilitate this, it has a thin rubber strip running most of its height to give it that little extra grip. Seated directly above the rubber strip is the infrared receiver for use with a wireless remote control. The lens takes up more than half of the camera width, sitting on a raised platform even when fully retracted. The outer edge of the lens is ringed with a thin line of blue metal, offering a contrast to the purple-black body and shiny black lens. In curved writing around the base of the lens are the details pertinent to its crafter; "Schneider-KREUZNACH" is written in white above the lens, and "VARIOPLAN ZOOM 6.2-18.6mm" below. Above the lens plateau, and slightly to the right, Samsung's logo appears in chromed letters. Directly below that, and at about 1 o'clock from the lens is the auto focus assist lamp. To the upper left of the lens is the flash, and at 7 o'clock is the rather small title "NV40".
At the outermost top right and left corners, the otherwise straight-edged case has small openings to allow the two control wheels to rotate fully.
The front of the camera is dominated by the lens and grip
On the back of the NV40 is the 2.5', 230,000 pixel LCD screen. It takes up the majority of the rear of the camera, and is flanked on the bottom and right by a row of blank buttons. These buttons are the key component of the NV40's unique control system, which will be described in more detail later. It's a system unlike anything else that we've seen, and an interesting one, though overly sensitive at times, and difficult to navigate. Where the row and column meet is the Play button for switching to playback mode. The LCD screen and these buttons are in an area of brushed rather than matte plastic. This striation-covered zone is slightly raised above the rest of the back of the camera. Centered and at the top of this side is the off-white Samsung logo, and to its right, directly in line with the vertical buttons, is the processing activity light.
To the right of the raised section sits a thumb rest of matte black plastic, which is also occupied by the zoom controls. This allows for your thumb to stabilize and control zooming in and out without having to adjust your hand or move your fingers.
Only two of the buttons on the rear of the camera are labeled, the Play button and a small label for a button that controls both Optical Image Stabilization and navigating backward in menus.
The two lines of buttons are the key to navigating the NV40's unique
Left Side* (5.50) The sides of the NV40 are curved, perfect half-cylinders, in contrast to the otherwise square build of the camera. The top of the left side houses the Photo Style control dial. A thin seam runs down the length of the left side with four screws holding the case together. Three quarters of the way down is the proprietary data out/power port. This plugs into your computer, printer, TV or, with the included USB adapter, a wall socket, and is protected by a plastic tag.
The proprietary port is the only major feature on the left side.*
The right side of the NV40 is mostly featureless, and nearly identical to the left. Once again, one of the control dials sits at the top, this time the Mode Control, and a plastic joint splits the entire side. However, on the right there is no data port, and the raised thumb rest is visible with the strap eyelet clearly presented.
*The thumb rest allows the body of the camera to be held securely.
The top of the NV40 is crafted from shiny black plastic in direct contrast to the matte plastic of the rest of the body. Unfortunately, this means that the top picks up fingerprints and smudges very easily. Bookending the top are two control dials. The left is for Photo Style, and the right is the slightly more traditional Mode dial, the larger of the two. Both are metal with black plastic spokes to aid in rotation. The tops of the dials are slightly beveled and stained dark, with the labels written in white (or green in the case of Auto). All the buttons and dials on the top of the camera are covered in small concentric rings. To the left of the Mode dial is the shutter button. The plastic smoothly rises to meet the button, which is in turn beveled with a small depression in the middle, where there's a small blue dot.
Continuing to the left is the power button. Set in a smooth depression, the diminutive button incorporates a small blue LED that illuminates when the camera is powered up. This button is labeled, with 'Power' written in small letters towards the rear of the top. After that are three small holes that cover the microphone. Left of the microphone is a small label informing us that the camera shoots at 10.5 megapixels. Finally, before the second control dial, is a series of seven dots arranged hexagonally in a small depression that protect the speaker.
The reflective plastic of the top is a magnet for fingerprints**
The hatch for the battery and memory card dominates the bottom of the NV40. The latch has a strong spring, and opens easily, but feels slightly fragile . The battery is a very thin rechargeable from Samsung, and is about two inches long and an inch and a half wide. The battery is held in place by a small blue tab, and shares a compartment with the memory card slot, that accepts SD, SDHC and MMC cards. To the right of the battery latch cover is the tripod mount. Strangely, the mount is neither camera-centered nor lens-centered, and when using a tripod this makes fine directional adjustments difficult. In our review sample, when looking at the bottom of the camera, there is a discernible difference in color between the front and back halves.
The memory card and battery share a housing*