If you don't mind overly vivid colors, HP's Photosmart 735 is a solid value. It offers a 3-megapixel resolution, a sharp Pentax 3X zoom lens, and a decent feature set that'll please anyone looking for a simple point-and-shoot. Just be ready for a neon world.
Like other HP digital cameras, the Photosmart 735 has a clean, spartan style. Its mostly plastic body is gray and silver. A bit bigger than many other models in its class, this camera weighs a moderate 10.3 ounces with batteries and media installed. The fit and finish of our test unit were very good, and we were able to get a secure, comfortable grip.
|/sc/20859610-2-200-DT2.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />
In an uncommon design move, HP provided separate buttons for shooting stills and video, so you don't have to turn a mode dial before capturing a subject.
|/sc/20859610-2-200-DT1.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />
These buttons let you select a flash setting, choose the picture quality, and scroll through photo modes on the status LCD.
The 735's controls are distributed across the camera's rear and top; two arrows and an OK key beside the LCD let you surf the menus. This navigation system worked adequately, but we prefer the four-way controllers you now find on many other models. The menus themselves are well labeled and quick to operate. Still, we're mildly disappointed that you have to drill into them to activate exposure compensation and white balance.
|/sc/20859610-2-200-DT3.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />
You switch between shooting and playback with buttons instead of a dial. And with the bottom button, you can mark pictures for printing or e-mailing.
|/sc/20859610-2-200-DT4.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />
You use these buttons to navigate the LCD menus.
If you're a novice, you'll appreciate the brief descriptions that accompany menu selections. For example, when you scroll to automatic white balance, the explanation "Camera adjusts color automatically" appears on the screen.
|/sc/20859610-2-200-M.gif" width="200" height="150" border="0" />|
The 735 saves JPEG files and video clips to SD/MMC media.
Point-and-shoot simplicity is the theme of the 735's feature set, but HP did add a few useful features to the basics. The 3X zoom lens covers a focal-length range of 38mm to 114mm (35mm-camera equivalent) and opens to a slightly subpar variable maximum aperture of f/2.6 to f/5.0. Exposure options include programmed auto, three scene presets, and an abbreviated but still useful aperture-priority mode that lets you select from two f-stop settings. You can adjust exposure to plus or minus 2EV and choose average, center-weighted, or spot light metering. For white balance, you get automatic operation and four presets, but unfortunately, there's no custom selection. The sensor's sensitivity can be set to ISO 100, ISO 200, or ISO 400.