Samsung DualView TL225

The 12-megapixel Samsung packs various never-before-seen features into a single point-and-shoot camera. As a feat of engineering and design, it's an astounding piece of work. Performance-minded photographers, however, will see past those nifty features and demand better battery life, sharper photos, and more manual settings for the price.

"Subtlety" isn't in the DualView TL225's vocabulary. When you tap the area to the left of its 4.6X (27mm to 124mm) optical zoom lens, its black front faceplate morphs into a secondary LCD screen. The front-facing LCD screen has several useful functions, depending on the mode you set the camera to.

In Portrait mode, you can aim the camera at yourself, compose a self-portrait, and have the shutter fire as soon as you smile (sometimes you have to exaggerate the smile for the feature to work, but it's still a neat trick). When the camera is in Self-Timer mode, the front screen displays a 3-2-1 countdown clock, eliminating some of the timing guesswork normally involved in unmanned shots. And when the TL225 is in the Children scene mode, the front LCD shows an enchanting animation of a clown, meant to capture a kid's attention just long enough to get a decent picture.

In other respects, the TL225's innovative touchscreen interface is closer to what you'd find on a high-end mobile phone than on a camera, offering haptic feedback and gesture-based controls. The touchscreen controls all of the TL225's functions aside from its power button, shutter button, zoom toggle, and playback button; and the interface is as polished and responsive as any touchscreen UI I've seen.

When you touch any option on the TL225's crisp, bright, beautiful 3.5-inch LCD screen, a subtle vibration lets you know that the camera got the message. The screen's gesture controls are well implemented and intuitive. Swiping with your finger lets you page through saved photos, drawing an "X" on the screen deletes unwanted pics, and making a circle on the screen rotates your photos during playback.

The TL225's gesture-based controls aren't limited to the touchscreen. Thanks to in-camera accelerometers, you can change the camera's functions by tilting the camera in different directions while pressing a touch icon on the right edge of the screen. Tilting forward puts the camera in movie mode (at its highest resolution setting, the TL225 records 720p MPEG-4 video at 30 frames per second), tilting it upward selects Program mode, and rotating it counterclockwise selects Smart Auto mode (which automatically chooses a scene mode based on the shooting environment). Alternatively you can select those modes by manually tapping icons on the touchscreen, just as people did in the olden days of 2007.