Hewlett-Packard's newest digicam does more than shoot the picture; it can evaluate your picture-taking performance and provides constructive tips for how you might improve on subsequent shots.

Hewlett-Packard's newest digicam does more than shoot the picture; it can evaluate your picture-taking performance and provides constructive tips for how you might improve on subsequent shots.

The Photosmart R707, introduced at the Photo Marketing Association conference in Las Vegas this week, is scheduled to ship in the US in May for US$349 (around £195). It's the first of several cameras HP is slated to launch this year, most of which will cost between $100 (£55) and $400 (£220).

A medium-sized camera with a brushed-steel front and a "sueded polycarbonate" back, the R707 includes a few unique features. Previous HP models have offered extensive on-camera instructions and tips, but the R707 takes that much further. It performs several functions that you'd otherwise have to take care of using software after you download images.

Instant Feedback

The Image Advice function can be accessed from the camera's playback menu. It takes a few seconds to analyze 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.

So, if you consistently take good shots, will the camera praise you? And, will it stop functioning if you continue making mistakes? Will the camera report you to the photo-taking authorities? If you're wary of a know-it-all camera, rest assured. The answer to all of these questions is no, HP says. The pre-production model I tested out here at the PMA show did not judge me as a person, even when I screwed up a shot on purpose.

Another onboard tool analyzes pictures for red eye and removes it while the image is in the camera's internal memory or flash card. The camera also uses HP's Adaptive Lighting technology. First seen on HP's PhotoSmart 945, the technology is supposed to better reveal details in shadows, especially in high-contrast photos.

Other more typical features include 5.1Mp resolution, 32MB of internal memory, a Secure Digital Card slot, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and a 3x optical zoom lens. A mode dial on top of the camera makes selecting scene modes easy; a small dedicated button on the top right of the camera controls movie capture.