Price: £339 plus VAT
At £339, HP’s Photosmart 812 is one of the first four-megapixel cameras to limbo the £400 barrier – arriving shortly after Kodak’s DX4900 (see page 47). It produces 2,272-x-1,712-pixel images, and features a 3x zoom lens (equivalent to a 37-111mm focal length on a 35mm camera). However, the Photosmart 812 has no manual exposure settings; buttons on the camera body provide access to almost all of its settings and controls. This should make the camera easy to use, but unfortunately HP opted for unconventional and unintuitive button-placement. Considering how frequently most people switch between taking shots and viewing them, it would be more convenient to place relevant buttons together. Though a shot appears on the LCD for several seconds immediately after it’s taken, most people tend to want to toggle between shooting and viewing. It won’t take long to get used to the Photosmart 812, especially given its limited settings and controls, but we found the layout unnecessarily confusing. Colours in the blue sky of our outdoor shot and in our mannequin’s dress looked rich and realistic. Though the Photosmart 812 generally captured detail well, patterns in our still life and parts of our mannequin’s face showed some fuzziness. HP includes a docking station from which users can upload their photos to a computer, print them directly to a printer, or view them on a TV set. Once the included driver and the ACDSee image editor have been set up, users merely hit a button on the docking station to launch the software and upload photos. A button on the back of the camera permits DPOF printing; users can set up a print order in the camera, place the unit on the dock, and then hit the button to send photos directly to a printer in the correct order.