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HP Photosmart R707 review: HP Photosmart R707

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MSRP: $292.00

The Good Attractive, compact, and portable; excellent in-camera help system; some unique and useful features.

The Bad Average image quality; slow recharge with bundled charger.

The Bottom Line Although a great camera for newbies who need their hands held, the R707's photos aren't too impressive.

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6.6 Overall
  • Design 7
  • Features 7
  • Performance 6
  • Image quality 6


Looking like a million bucks, the Photosmart R707 was the first to break the mold in HP's formerly boring design scheme. This 5-megapixel camera, with its 3X zoom, doesn't offer many manual exposure controls, though it provides several unique--and useful--features. Snapshooters and beginners who want to learn the ropes should be attracted by the HP Photosmart R707's in-camera help system and competitive price. Fussy shooters, however, will take issue with some of the camera's photographic flaws. With its attractive brushed-silver and black-matte finish, the compact HP Photosmart R707 is as easy on the eyes as it is comfortable to hold. At 7.4 ounces with battery and SD card, the R707 is just about light enough to wear with a neck lanyard and small enough to stash in your pocket.

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Control layout is slightly different than most digital cameras, with seven hard-to-distinguish rectangular and curved buttons surrounding the LCD.
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The arc-shaped zoom switch may not be comfortable to use if your hands are relatively large.

The Menu/OK button, on the back of the camera, is surrounded by a four-way controller. Our natural instinct is to press Menu/OK to turn off the menu, but instead it requires a press of the record or playback button to get out of the menu, which we find counterintuitive.

A button on the top left provides access to scene and aperture-priority modes, and a second, smaller button to the right switches to video mode.

HP's unique help system offers abundant text explanations for and implications of using different features. A full-fledged help menu provides shooting tips and instruction, an invaluable addition when you have to figure out details in the field. A trip to the manual makes finding all this good stuff a lot easier and is highly recommended.

The HP Photosmart R707 targets photographers who don't really use advanced controls but who nevertheless might like to tweak settings on occasion. For instance, although there's an aperture-priority mode for controlling depth of field, you're limited to a choice between two settings for a given focal length. The camera's 3X zoom lens runs from 39mm to 117mm (35mm equivalent), so you're stuck with a fairly narrow angle of view.

Automatic exposure metering options, custom and preset ISO settings, several scene modes, and AE bracketing are welcome additions. We were happy to see multiple resolutions to choose from: VGA, as well as 1, 3, and 5 megapixels, with preset compression settings. However, if you delve another level into the menus, HP includes a custom option that allows you to choose resolution and compression settings independently. Each selection is accompanied by a descriptive note, along with the number of remaining pictures at that setting. We would prefer to have had the individual options more readily available, rather than the presets, especially since photo quality improved significantly with the lowest compression setting. The camera is equipped with 32MB of internal memory, so budget for a large SD card.

Other, more useful options for finessing images include exposure compensation (plus or minus 2EV in 1/3EV increments), saturation, sharpness, and contrast. HP's unique Adaptive Lighting technology, which the company dubbed Digital Flash when it debuted in the HP Photosmart 945, automatically extends dynamic range and actually works better than we expected. Similarly, the in-camera red-eye-removal feature was intriguing, but the R707 provided no opportunity to try it; people photos simply did not suffer from demon eyes. A panorama-assist mode, which provides an outlined edge of each shot, makes it relatively easy to align up to as many as five shots in succession. You can preview the panorama in playback and stitch it together with bundled software.

HP's help system also provides assistance with autofocus. Pressing the up or down arrow on the four-way controller guides the AF to focus either on closer or more distant objects in the scene. However, we found this feature more impressive in concept than in practice.

True to form, the R707's Instant Share makes transferring and e-mailing images a piece of cake. You'll probably want to consider the optional dock for easiest operation, and since we're great believers in having more than one proprietary battery, we were especially pleased with the dock's extra slot for charging two batteries at once (in-camera and in the slot). But the most important accessory is the quick charger since it takes an abysmally long five to seven hours to fully charge the camera's battery any other way.

Battery life was decent but unremarkable, yielding more than 300 images out of one charge.
Neither tortoise nor hare, the HP Photosmart R707's performance won't win any awards, but it's not it out of the race either. Start-up to first shot took about 3.5 seconds, with a middle-of-the-road shutter lag of about 0.6 to 0.7 second and a respectable shot-to-shot time of 1.4 seconds without flash. If you add the flash, the time from one shot to the next almost doubles. Throw in a tendency for the LCD to go black occasionally, and using this camera can be a little frustrating.

Shooting speed
Meausured in seconds (shorter bars are better)
Typical continuous-shooting speed  
Typical shot-to-shot time  
Shutter lag (typical)  
Time to first shot  
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