This article first appeared in HWM Aug 2011.
Samsung took the safe route when it came to designing the WB210 - the camera’s design and build are rather uninspiring in a day and age where camera manufacturers are jostling to be the slimmest and sleekest head-turner in town. That is not to say the WB210 looks bad – in fact, its flashy chrome finish does a good job protecting the camera from scratches, while a plastic back keeps weight in check at a reasonable 174g.
Coming with a touchscreen, the WB210’s controls are mostly accessible by tapping on the 3.5-inch screen. However, certain physical buttons still remain, with the play, power, and shutter buttons, and zoom lever lining within reach on top. We say this because most manufacturers of touchscreen-enabled cameras tend to go overboard on their touch capabilities, wiping out all but one or two physical buttons, which results in iffy and often confusing navigation. The WB210 has another trick up its sleeve in the form of a dedicated shortcut button that opens up the new Smart Access interface. Here is where most of the action takes place, as well as where you can easily configure settings, edit photos or enter various shooting modes (some examples include Smart Filter and Beauty Shot). You do these by swiping the screen from left to right, quite like how you would on most smartphones. The screen is quick to respond, and navigation feels smooth.
Easy accessibility and a responsive screen aside, Samsung also did a great job with sprucing up the overall user interface. Superficial as it sounds, the interface isn’t only good to look at with pretty and colorful icons, but also laid out intuitively.
Digital stills look pleasing straight out of the camera, with image noise well under control, while color reproduction is accurate more often than not. The WB210 also scores a reasonable 1500x1600 LPH for both horizontal and vertical on our resolution test chart. Noise starts creeping at ISO 400, and becomes more prominent from ISO 800. On the flipside, processing and auto-focusing are a bit on the slow side; the former is even slower when you shoot on certain modes that allow filter effects. Otherwise, photos shot even at 12x zoom were clear and accurately focused.
All in all, is the WB210 worth considering? This compact shooter boasts excellent touch controls and a pretty, yet functional interface. Last but not least, Samsung rounds up the great user experience by including essential physical controls (although a dedicated video button would have been a useful addition). Of course, the WB210 is not without flaws: we do have mixed feelings about its so-so battery life and Samsung’s questionable choice of going with microSD memory cards. Nonetheless, if those two factors aren’t deal breakers, then the Samsung WB210 is worth considering.