DCRP Review: Samsung NV11
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The NV11 ($329) is the latest and greatest in Samsung's high-end NV-series of digital cameras. It builds on the NV10 (introduced in 2006), adding a more powerful zoom lens (5X vs. 3X) and a larger LCD (2.7" vs. 2.5"), while improving battery life by over 20%. Everything else is more-or-less these same: the NV11 (which is built like a brick) has a 10MP CCD, full manual controls, VGA and Samsung's unique Smart Touch interface (more on that later).
The "old" NV10 was an interesting camera that ultimately disappointed me with its lackluster image quality. Does the NV11 do a better job? Find out now in our review!
What's in the Box?
The NV11 has an average bundle. Inside the box you'll find:
As with most cameras these days, the NV11 has built-in memory in lieu of a bundled memory card. The camera has 20MB of memory, which holds just three photos at the highest quality setting. Thus, you'll want to buy a memory card right away, and I'd start with a 1GB or 2GB card if I were you. The camera uses Secure Digital, SDHC, and MMC memory card formats, and it's worth spending the extra dollars on a high speed card.
The NV11 uses a new, more powerful battery than the NV10 before
it. The SLB-1137D lithium-ion battery has 4.1 Wh of energy, up from 3.1 Wh
on the SLB-0837. As you'd expect, the camera's battery life numbers get a bump
-- and here they are:
I wanted to put the Samsung S1050 in that chart, but I don't have battery life numbers for it. The group average is around 240 shots per charge, which puts the NV11 about 10% below average. As such, it's probably worth buying a spare battery.
Speaking of batteries, I must now launch into my speech about proprietary batteries like the one used here. They're quite expensive, and when they run out of juice, you're out of luck (unlike with AA-based cameras, where off-the-shelf batteries are an option). As you can see in the above table, there are a few options for those of you who want a AA-powered camera.
Like the NV10 before it, the NV11 has a rather unique way of charging its battery. All you need to do is plug the included USB cable into the bottom of the camera and then connect it to your computer. You can also use a standard power plug via an included USB-to-power adapter. Whichever way you do it, it'll take 150 minutes to fully charge the battery.
As with most compact cameras, the NV11 has a built-in lens cover, so there's no clumsy lens cap to worry about.
There are just two accessories available for the Samsung NV11. First, there's a wireless remote control known as the SRC-A3 ($15), which lets you control most camera functions from up to 15 feet away. The other accessory is the SCP-A19 leather camera case ($20).
Digimax Master for Windows
Samsung includes their Digimax Master software with the NV11. While not the most attractive or powerful software on the market, it gets the job done. Digimax Master is for Windows only -- there is no Mac software included with the camera (iPhoto will work fine, though).
The main screen of Digimax Master has the usual thumbnail view (with adjustable thumbnail sizes), and from this screen you can rotate, print, and e-mail photos. As you'd expect these days, the thumbnail size can be adjusted.
Double-clicking on an image opens the edit window. If you're editing a JPEG you'll find all kinds of tools on the left side of the screen, including an "auto enhance" option. There are also tools available for putting type (or drawings) on top of a photo.
Digimax Biz Reader for Windows
Something else you'll find in the box with the camera is Samsung's Digimax Biz Reader software (which is, again, Windows-only). This automatically detects business cards that you've taken in the "biz" scene mode, and attempts to extract the data from them automatically. From my experience, it didn't work terribly well -- virtually every card I shot required manual data editing.
The manual situation on the NV11 is not good. Samsung includes a very brief (13 page) manual in the box that covers the very basics. If you want more details, you'll have to open up the full manual, which is in PDF format on the included CD-ROM. The quality of the manuals are pretty lousy, as well.
Look and Feel
The NV11 looks almost exactly like its predecessor, with the main difference being its larger lens and LCD. Like the other NV-series cameras, the NV11 feels like its been cut from a solid block of metal. Every part on this camera is well put together -- even the door over the battery/memory card compartment.
The camera can be held and operated with just one hand, though I typically used my left hand to help keep the camera steady. While the right hand grip isn't terribly large, it fits the NV11 well.
Okay, now let's take a look at how the camera compares to the competition in terms of size and weight: