The 10.2Mp Samsung WB500 is a chunky model that's too large to fit easily into a coat pocket. It has a huge 1/2.33in Schneider lens, weighs 240g and offers 24mm ultra-wide image capture and a 10x optical zoom that stretches from 4.2 to 42mm.
Finished in gunmetal grey, the Samsung WB500's understated colouring sets off the attractive shiny silver accents of its dials and lens ring. In use, the power button is illuminated by a thick blue LED band - useful for checking you've not accidentally left it switched on but no good for stealthy candid camera snaps.
A rubber grip helps right-handers steady their shots, and Samsung supplements this with dual image-stabilisation features. These come into their own when shooting with the WB500 in low-light, although the maximum ISO of 3,200 also helps. The range of autofocus settings includes face-detection and blink-detection, and there's the now obligatory smile sensor and Beauty Shot mode, too. We found this latter feature tended to obliterate detail with the force of its flash; while ensuring dark circles under eyes disappeared, this also bleached out faces.
Samsung has erred on the side of providing too many rather than too few options, including a video-capture mode. It's quite possible to spend 20 mins adjusting settings and searching through the Samsung WB500's menus.
On the video front you can record 1,280x720 at 30fps, composing footage on the 2.8in LCD. You can pause and resume recording, too. Samsung also provides separate voice-recording options with the WB500, but you need to delve into the complex onscreen menus to adjust the defaults.
Of our test shots, the wide-angle ones were the most satisfactory and we can see why Samsung is pushing this as its main selling point. It's ideal for group shots and landscapes. Most of our test shots were taken on an overcast day, so overexposure and other defects caused by too much light suffusing the Samsung WB500's sensor weren't evident.
There's approximately 30MB of internal memory and Samsung's specs ‘guarantee' that the WB500 will read 4/8GB SD/SDHC cards.
Some will find the sheer bulk of the Samsung WB500 reassuring; we found it burdensome. Although the 10.3Mp sensor and 10x zoom were welcome, this was far from our favourite compact.