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This little camera boasts a lot of features.
HP's Photosmart R927 8.2-megapixel point-and-shoot camera takes great-looking photos and has helpful built-in imaging tools. You may not even need your Mac - the R927 is like having a camera and a photo lab in a single fun-to-use, pocket-sized package.
The handsome R927 has a sleek, chic, brushed metallic body. Weighing 8 ounces and measuring 2.44 by 3.78 by 1 inches, it's lightweight and a nice and comfy size. The buttons are intuitively placed for easy reach on the camera's top and back - you'll get familiar with their functions in a snap. The camera's biggest draw may be its huge 3-inch LCD that's brilliantly colored and easily viewable from just about any angle (HP boasts up to 170 degrees). We found the display to be a total pleasure for the eyes, even in bright daylight (thanks mostly to its antireflective coating), and didn't miss having an optical viewfinder.
The R927 has a 3x optical zoom lens, 32MB of internal memory, a SD/MMC card slot, a rechargeable lithium-ion battery, and PictBridge printer support. It's all good stuff, although the paltry amount of built-in memory won't get you very far, especially if you're going to take lots of high-resolution shots. Buy the roomiest SD or MMC card you can afford so you can house plenty of pics and video.
We have mixed feelings about the included dock, although it does make simple work of downloading images and charging your camera. Connect it to your Mac via USB, drop the R927 in, and there you go. Unfortunately, you can't connect the R927 to your Mac without the dock, so that means you'll have one extra thing to tote around on those extended trips. Also, the dock has no video-out port to allow you to view slide shows and video on a TV, meaning you'll have to drop more cash for the optional Premium Camera Dock ($79.99) if you want that feature.
The R927's best asset is its software. Its Image Advice feature can tell you exactly what is wrong with a pic and gives you helpful tips to minimize funky stuff from happening in your next shot. For example, we used it to analyze a noisy picture, and Image Advice came up with the diagnosis that the camera was too hot when the picture was taken. That was spot-on for us, as our photo was indeed taken on an extremely hot day (HP says the R927's operating range is 32 to 122 degrees Fahrenheit).
For touching up photos or just adding some flair, you can use the R927's Design Gallery. Here, you can instantly remove red-eye, create fancy borders, modify color, and apply artistic filters - there's even a slimming filter that will make people look a bit thinner, which can be handy around the holidays. Many of these functions can also be performed on your Mac using HP's Photosmart Edit software, but we wouldn't rely on it or the camera as a total replacement for a more robust editing app such as Adobe Photoshop Elements.
Image quality is quite good for a camera of this class. Colors are vibrant and accurate, and details are sharp. Barrel distortion at the wide end of zoom isn't overwhelming, and noise was kept to a minimum in well-lit compositions but was more noticeable in low light - the R927 did much better with noise than Canon's PowerShot S80. HP includes its Adaptive Lighting technology to help brighten things up in low-light situations. It's not a perfect solution - pics can become very noisy if it's turned up high - but you can always set the camera to automatically take shots with the feature both off and on so you can see what works best for your situation.
The bottom line. The HP R927 ranks high with us as a good all-around camera that's easy to use, has convenient editing features, and produces great-quality images.
CONTACT: 800-752-0900, www.hp.com
REQUIREMENTS: Mac OS 10.2.8 or later, USB
Good image quality. Helpful Image Advice feature.
Needs the dock to connect to your Mac.
BONUS TIP: Hot Pics
Unusually hot or cold outside? Temperature can affect a camera's sensor, degrading image quality if your camera is too warm or too cool. Avoid leaving your camera in places where temps can get extreme, such as on the dash of your AMC Gremlin on a sunny day, out in the open during your trek through Antarctica, or near the mouth of Mount Nyiragongo.