A huge 3.6in touchscreen LCD is the star feature of the HP Photosmart R937 8Mp compact camera.

During our hands-on testing of a production model of the HP Photosmart R937, the LCD screen caused strangers to stop to watch as we composed shots. Friends said they loved how easily they could view images on it.

The HP Photosmart R937

The HP Photosmart R937

The screen is also touch sensitive, making the HP Photosmart R937 a breeze to operate using the plastic stylus that dangles from the wrist strap. As you use it to tap on the colourful buttons and menus, you glide quickly through the settings.

For most operations, a question-mark icon in the top corner leads to a wealth of useful information. The HP Photosmart R937 has just a few real buttons - power, shutter release, zoom control, and display mode - as well as a slider for switching among still shots, movies and playback.

The HP Photosmart R937 lacks some of the fancier features you'll find on similarly priced cameras. For example, though it has an antiblur mode for reducing the effect of camera shake, that function works by increasing the exposure speed and light sensitivity, making the HP Photosmart R937 more prone to noise than optically stabilised models.

However, the touchscreen menus provide some novel in-camera editing functions. You can add borders, modify colours, and apply artistic effects, such as cartoon or kaleidoscope patterns. Via the HP Photosmart R937's photo-enhancement tools, you can make people look slimmer, touch up skin blemishes, and fix red-eye.

HP even includes in the HP Photosmart R937 a tool to address reflections from your pet's eyes, but we didn't have much luck correcting flash photos of two cats. We took a whole bunch of shots, but only once did the tool change the appearance of a single eye - and that result looked very unrealistic.

The HP Photosmart R937 also lets you assign keyword tags to your photos, which helps you organise your images in the included HP Photosmart Software, in Windows Vista's Photo Gallery, or in iPhoto on a Mac. A virtual keyboard pops up on the screen when you want to enter new tags.

In PC Advisor Test Centre tests, images looked bright and colourful; the scores for sharpness and distortion, however, were average. Pphotos looked stunning, with strong contrast and vivid (though slightly unnatural) colours. The HP Photosmart R937 uses a single USB port for both downloading images and charging the lithium ion battery.

At 261 shots on a single charge, the HP Photosmart R937's battery life was a bit above average, surprising considering the large size and brightness of the LCD.

HP Photosmart R937: Specs

  • 8.15Mp
  • 1/2.5in CCD
  • 32MB internal memory
  • SD Card
  • HP Precision Lens
  • no viewfinder
  • white balance: Auto (default), Sun, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent
  • exposure: +/- 2.0 EV in 1/2 steps
  • auto, close up, landscape focus - 0.5m to infinity (wide), 0.6m to infinity (telephoto), 0.10 to 1m (macro wide)
  • 3x/8x optical/digital zoom
  • 3.6in, 960x240-pixel colour LCD
  • 104x71x25mm
  • 0.19kg
  • 8.15Mp
  • 1/2.5in CCD
  • 32MB internal memory
  • SD Card
  • HP Precision Lens
  • no viewfinder
  • white balance: Auto (default), Sun, Shade, Tungsten, Fluorescent
  • exposure: +/- 2.0 EV in 1/2 steps
  • auto, close up, landscape focus - 0.5m to infinity (wide), 0.6m to infinity (telephoto), 0.10 to 1m (macro wide)
  • 3x/8x optical/digital zoom
  • 3.6in, 960x240-pixel colour LCD
  • 104x71x25mm
  • 0.19kg

OUR VERDICT

The iPhone has made big colour touchscreens fashionable. But with its ease of use and good image quality, the HP Photosmart R937 may be the coolest touchscreen toy to carry.

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