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From the iPhone 3G to Sony camcorders, the touchscreen is about the hottest technology around at the moment. Kodak jumps on the bandwagon with the EasyShare V1073, an elegant touchscreen compact with a metal body and respectable 10-megapixel resolution. It's available now for £170, or around £140 online.
It's been a long while since Kodak was at the cutting edge of photography. Executives must be crossing their fingers that touchscreens and graphite-grey metal housings will woo a new generation of style-conscious shoppers to this 10-megapixel snapper. The soft edges of the case, muted styling -- not a splash of 'Kodak yellow' to be seen -- and controls limited to just five buttons and a zoom rocker certainly set the scene. Even the gently glowing power button looks classy. That's all before you get to the 76mm (3-inch) screen, which feels as solidly built as the rest of the camera.
The feature list is far more pedestrian, as you might expect at the price, with a bog-standard 3x zoom feeding an equally average 10-megapixel sensor. A 'smart' mode chooses program modes for you, fairly reliably switching between macro and landscape focus zones, for instance, but proving less confident about recognising faces.
For its price point, the Kodak's image quality is decent. The minimalist urban chic stops long before the processing chip kicks in, so you get the usual ultra-bright primary colours, smooth texture and not too much detail. Movies can be shot up to widescreen, 1,280x720 pixels at 30 frames per second and there is optical image stabilisation on board too.
There are two types of touchscreen on the market: capacitive ones -- found on the iPhone 3G -- and resistive ones -- found on the Kodak V1073. Resistive screens have the advantage of being operable with gloved fingers or pencils, but are notorious for having less clarity. That's certainly the case here. The screen is large but blurry and simply terrible in both sunlight and low light. Bright light washes it out almost completely and dark conditions summon up a snowstorm of grain.
The touch action is fairly responsive but menus are sluggish. As is common with over-simplified products, you need to hunt through several screens to simply change the sensitivity or white balance.
While movies are HD in name, the Kodak doesn't threaten even the cheapest AVC-HD camcorder. Plus, if you want to enjoy clips on your HD telly, you'll have to buy a separate Kodak HDTV Dock for £70, which doesn't even have HDMI -- just a component video port and cable.
Like its previously-tested big brother, the 12-megapixel EasyShare V1273, this Kodak is a triumph of form over function. Sure, it looks good and the large touchscreen is a fun gimmick, but its average, over-baked images simply aren't worth the effort of struggling through such a sluggish, time-consuming interface.
Edited by Shannon Doubleday