HP Photosmart R707 Camera with R-Series Dock
Review

On August 10, 2004, in Camera, Review, by Tim Robertson

HP Photosmart R707 with R-Series Dock
Company: Hewlett-Packard
Price: $349.99 (Camera) $79.95 (Dock)
www.hp.com

The R707 is the third HP camera I have reviewed over the last year and it combines all the things I loved about the Photosmart 935 plus a plethora of goodness and new features has been added that have made this camera everything I’m looking for in a digital camera.

The R707 is a 5.1MP digital camera with a 24X zoom (3X optical, 8X digital) that delivers very good pictures with an intuitive interface and a small though slightly larger than pocket-sized design.

One of the things I dislike about many digital cameras is that while some have an LCD screen, many of them are too dark to use in bright sunshine. Not so with the 1.5-inch color LCD on the R707. It’s very bright and easy to use, even in broad daylight. The screen picture is also very crisp, and both live view and review are pleasing on the eye.

Historically, when you use the LCD on digital cameras, your battery life goes right out the window. My biggest complaint with the older Photosmart 935 was that it ate batteries like a newly minted Ethiopian millionaire in a McDonalds. Not so with the R707, thanks to its lithium-ion rechargeable battery. The battery is charged with the included power cable, but a better option is to buy the R-series dock, but more on that later.

The battery lasts a good long time, much longer than a couple AA or AAA batteries many other digital cameras use. And because it’s rechargeable, there’s no reoccurring battery purchases in your future. Always a good thing, unless you work for the Duracell company.

The R707 ships with built-in 32MB of memory, and that’s fine if your needs are only to take a few pictures at a time. Which means, of course, that your first purchase when buying this camera will be to pick up a larger SD or MMC card. SD cards do have faster access times (recording the picture) so look into a 256MB SD card. Well worth the investment.

Picture quality is very good, on par with the other top of the line 5.1MP cameras on the market today. Vibrant, true to life colors are a must with any camera purchase. I find that I have to do much less color correction using the R707 than other cameras I have used in the past.

While the R707 is a 5.1MP camera, you are able to set the quality to your desired setting. For instance, 5MP with five stars is the best quality setting. You can change it to 5MP with 2 stars, 3MP with two stars, 1MP with two stars, or VGA. Depending on your needs, being able to set the compression to a desired setting is essential in getting the most out of your photos. If all you’re doing is taking pictures to use on the web, 3MP is more than enough. If printing your photos on high-quality photo paper is your need, the highest 5MP setting will give you the best results. Just remember, the lower the MP setting, the more pictures you can take before the memory card is full.

The R707 gives you just about complete control over all the needed settings one could ask for in a digital camera. Need to change the shutter (ISO) speed? You have the option of ISO 100, 200, and 400 (for fast moving objects.) For those who use a camera often, you will understand how beneficial it is to be able to change the shutter speed. Many digital cameras do not give you this option, and it is essential to good picture taking.

Speaking of good picture taking, the R707 has a nifty feature in which you can ask the cameras advice on your pictures. The camera will examine the photo in question and offer helpful hints on how you can better improve your photo taking ability next time. I tried this quite a few times, and found the advice helpful, if not a little canned.

The R707 also allows you to remove redeye in the camera, before you transfer it to your computer. In real world tests, I found this feature worked remarkably well, though not without a few failures. Still, it’s a handy feature for those unfamiliar with the process to fix this on the computer.

On the downside, I found the built-in memory very, very slow. From taking one picture until the camera was ready to take another was twice as long as my three-year-old Kodak 3.1MP. And the speed does not improve when connecting the camera to the computer to transfer pictures. In the same time it took to send 25 photos from the R707, I transferred 77 photos from the Kodak. As I wrote above, upgrading to a larger capacity, faster SD memory card will improve this shortcoming dramatically.

The menu button is well placed, and I found navigating the onscreen menu options very simple and easy to understand. HP uses common terminology, which is not always the case with some manufacturers.

The form factor of the R707 should not be overlooked. With the brushed metallic and plastic look, this is an attractive camera. It is also small enough for me to fit into a pocket with little discomfort. It is by far not the smallest 5MP camera on the market, but it does fit nicely in my hand for one hand photo taking.

The R707 also has the ability to take video, acting like a mini-video cam. I understand more features sell products, but I found the video sub-par next to even a cheap digital camcorder. Still, this is a feature some users will make use of frequently. Unfortunately, you’ll have to pull the video out of the camera using HP’s software, unless you mount the memory card on your desktop and drag-and-drop copy. I’m not a big fan of HP’s Director software, as Apple iLife programs work much better.

How does the video hold up in real-world testing? Not well. Small, pixilated video is about all you can hope for here, which should be no surprise. I have yet to find a digital camera that takes really good video as well. Video also eats up your memory space very quickly.

If you need to shoot video, get a DV camcorder.

The R-Series Dock
Along with the R707, HP sent along their R-Series dock. This is a fine addition for anyone who owns or is thinking about purchasing any HP R-Series cameras. The dock allows you to transfer pictures from the camera to the computer, display slideshows on your television, recharge the battery in your camera, and it even ships with an additional battery that has its own charging slot.

The dock ships with a USB cable, extra battery, and a remote control for slideshows. Remarkably listed at only $79.99 US, the dock looks great on your desktop next to the metallic look of Apples recent hardware.

Besides looking nice, the dock will allow users to instantly share photos via HP’s Instant Share technology (Mac users have a better choice with iPhoto) and display pictures in the camera on your television. I found this a very nice feature, although one I have little use for.

Here are the specs:

5.1-megapixel resolution for photo-quality enlargements up to poster size
24x total zoom – 3x optical, 8x digital
32 MB internal storage memory
1.5-inch color, outdoor viewable LCD
USB connectivity (USB 2.0 compatible)
SD/MMC card slot
Direct-printing capability to HP USB-enabled Photosmart or select all-in-one printers
PictBridge support
Exif 2.2 support

Conclusions
I really enjoyed my time with the R707 and the dock. A great combination! Good quality photos from a solid, durable, attractive camera. I have to give this a 5 out of 5 MyMac.com rating!

 

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