Hewlett-Packard Australia Photosmart R707

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Hewlett-Packard Australia Photosmart R707

Pros

  • Great menu system, innovative design

Cons

  • Low battery life, slow to process images, average image quality

Bottom Line

This is an attractive combination of a competitive price, small size and capable imaging, with a few advanced extras thrown in. The built-in help would benefit novice photographers.

Would you buy this?

  • Buy now (Selling at 3 stores)

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The HP Photosmart R707 is an unusual-looking camera. Its black body has a rubbery texture and feels secure in the hand, and a polished metal plate covers its front.

The Photosmart R707's menus are well designed, attractive and easy to use. There's a button on top of the R707 for selecting among seven different scene modes, including panorama. The limited aperture-priority mode gives you a choice of two aperture values at each zoom level, but there is no shutter priority setting. The camera's My Mode allows you to save and instantly recall a collection of favourite settings--very useful, once you figure out how to use it.

Other, more typical, features include a 5.1 megapixel resolution, 32MB of internal memory, a Secure Digital card slot, a rechargeable lithium ion battery, and a 3X optical zoom lens.

An innovative help menu offers tips on using the camera and explains its various features. Called the Image Advice function, it can be accessed from the camera's playback menu. It takes a few seconds to analyse an image for problems with focus, exposure, and other criteria, then displays a text message that suggests how you might take a better shot the next time. For example, for a blurred shot it may say: "This image may be out of focus. The camera was not able to focus successfully, possibly due to low light. Increase the scene lighting or use a tripod..." It might be better to get this information before you take the shot, but you can always take another and use what you've learned.

The zoom control, located on the upper-right back of the camera, sits in an indentation for your thumb, but we found it hard to use. Two dedicated buttons allow you to tag pictures for printing or emailing to a pre-assigned address the next time you connect the camera to your PC. Another onboard tool analyses pictures for red eye, and removes it while the image is in the camera's internal memory or flash card.

In our image quality tests, the R707 scored moderately well, producing reasonably sharp pictures with bright, accurate colours. It performed a little below average in a flash test, however.

The R707 seemed slow to process our shots. If you hold your finger down, you can capture a burst of three images, but the camera then takes about 20 seconds to write them to its built-in memory before you can take another photo.

A disappointing feature is the battery life. We were lucky to get 50 shots taken with the flash on when it was set to the highest resolution. It was slightly better when taking daylight shots (no flash required), but the R707 can not compete with other five megapixel cameras for battery life.

Howard Dahdah and Alan Stafford contributed to this review.

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