Samsung is making a strong bid to be taken seriously in the high-performance compact segment with their announcement of the Samsung HZ1.
Built around a 10x zoom lens that covers an unusually wide 24-240mm, the HZ1 (a product name which may yet change, according to Samsung) measures right at an inch thick.
A 10 megapixel, 1/2.3 inch CCD serves as imager for the new model, effectively crushing rumors that Samsung was intending to offer a large-sensor camera in this form factor.
Face detection, optical image stabilization, and blink detection have all be floated as key soft features. Without an optical or electronic viewfinder, a 2.7 inch display panel will handle all shot composition. In addition, the new model will shoot HD video at 720p/30 fps and allow full use of the optical zoom while filming besides.
Overall, while the HZ1 was fleshed out to a fairly high level of detail yesterday, several bits of key information remain up in the air. Most notably, Samsung was unable to provided specifics on when the new model might be available, or for how much (although indications from Samsung are that the new model will almost certainly be a part of the company's 2009 line).
The company was showing off mock-ups of the new product, at least, and based on what we saw there, this could well be the most serious challenge to Panasonic's dominant TZ5 pocket ultrazoom yet seen. We're going to spend a little more time visiting at the Samsung booth today to see if anything else can be learned; more details as they come to light.