HP Photosmart R817 £250

1st Feb 2006 | 00:00

HP Photosmart R817

A very clever camera, but is it a wee bit too clever?

TechRadar rating:

3 stars

Instead of editing features, more effort could have been put into capture quality.


<p>Inexpensive</p><p>Ideal for home printing</p><p>Red-eye reduction</p><p>56x optical zoom</p>


<p>Weak contrast</p><p>Noisy images</p>

Macs are low-fuss machines, with owners that tend to be wary of overly complicated designs and gimmicky devices. The main joy of the R817, is that it has enough controls to enable quick access to the main shooting functions without a confusing layout.

Typical of HP, build quality is good. On the R817 almost all the controls are neatly recessed into the metal case, so there's little chance of accidentally breaking off any fragile buttons. The 5MP sensor is perfectly adequate, while the zoom lens is more generous than most, with a 5x optical zoom range equivalent to 36-180mm, which makes the camera especially useful at the telephoto end.

With HP's computing heritage, it's no surprise to see it coming at the compact market from a technical angle. The R817 has some advanced image processing software built in, which can give your photos more than a little TLC even after you take the shot. For example, if low-light details have been lost in the shadows, the 'adaptive lighting' tool can retrieve them with ease, while a red-eye removal feature builds on the capabilities of the flash's red-eye reduction mode.

With useful features like this, the R817 is ideal for direct-print use, with any compatible PictBridge printer, and it even comes complete with its own docking station for recharging the Li-ion cell and transferring photos via USB.

The only real letdown with the R817, was that in spite of its clever tricks, the image quality isn't a match for some of its rivals in terms of colour accuracy and contrast, while diagonal lines in images often took on a jagged appearance. Noise was also very pronounced at sensitivities above ISO 200.

Digital camerasHP
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