It’s been tried before, most notably by Kodak, but the concept of a camera which docks with a matching printer remains a good idea. This HP bundle is aimed at those thinking of switching from a conventional camera and buying their first digital setup. Its two big advantages are that it’s very easy to get prints from your camera and that it costs under £150.
HP uses the marketing line ‘No cables, No worries’, though there are actually several cables supplied in the box – it’s just that you don’t have to use them. The basic design of the bundle is one of HP’s small photo printers, with a camera dock set into its top surface. Plug the camera backwards into the dock and you can use its LCD display as a monitor, while you’re selecting the shots to print.
The supplied cables connect the printer to a PC, so you can print images, and to a TV, so you can run slide shows of the pictures on your camera. There’s also a cable from the external power supply, built into an oversized mains plug.
The printer itself is similar to many others in the Photosmart range. It uses a single, tri-colour cartridge that slots in through a hatch on the right-hand side, or a tri-grey cartridge for printing black and white. Up to 20 sheets of 15 x 10cm photo paper can be loaded in the feed tray at the back and they feed out onto the folded-down front cover.
On the top surface, there’s a menu control ring, which echoes the one on the back of the camera, surrounded by other assorted buttons, for power, picture zoom, print and TV output. A rechargeable battery pack fits under a hatch in the bottom of the printer so it can print away from the mains.
The bundled Photosmart M415 camera, which has a surprisingly good spec, is a bit shorter and fatter than normal. It has a 5Mpixel sensor, 3x optical zoom, with 6x digital zoom on top, 16MB of internal memory and an SD/MM card slot for adding more. As supplied, it can take eight shots at its default resolution.
The lens system is termed ‘HP high precision’, which tells you little, but in use it produced reasonable shots, up to the holiday snap standard many casual photographers will want. It includes innovations such as in-camera red-eye removal and HP adaptive lighting, which is claimed to improve shadow detail in shots with a wide dynamic range. Weaknesses are the auto-focus, particularly in macro mode, and its small, 38mm LCD.