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The Hewlett-Packard Photosmart E427 includes both a six megapixel CCD imager and an HP-branded fixed focus, fixed focal length lens equivalent to 41mm on a 35mm camera - perhaps not as versatile as a zoom lens, but doubtless the choice has allowed HP to keep cost and complexity down. Hence, the HP E427's $130 pricetag - about as affordable as they come. A 5x digital zoom will help you crop in on subjects more tightly, but like any digital zoom it cannot recreate detail that wasn't in the wide-angle image, and hence will tend to soften images proportionally to the zoom strength. For framing images, there's a 2.0" LCD display that's slightly higher resolution than average at 153,000 pixels, but no optical viewfinder - something that's become an increasingly rare option these days. Images are stored on Secure Digital / MultiMediaCards, or in 16MB of internal memory.

The HP Photosmart E427 has four scene modes - Action, Landscape, Portrait, and Sunset - to help beginners achieve the results they're looking for without the need to understand subtleties like shutter speeds, apertures and the like. The E427 determines exposures with a center-weighted auto metering system, offers ISO sensitivity ranging from 100 to 400, shutter speeds from 2 to 1/1000 second, and has a fixed aperture of f/3.5. The Hewlett Packard E427 also has a five mode flash including red-eye reduction.

Images captured on the HP E427 are transferred to your computer over a USB 1.1 connection, rather slower than the USB 2.0 High Speed connections offered on many cameras these days. Power comes from two standard AA batteries - either alkaline or lithium disposables, or NiMH rechargeables. The product bundle includes HP Photosmart software, offering basic photo editing, printing and sharing functionality. The camera is PictBridge complaint - letting you print images directly on compatible printers without the need for a computer.

The Hewlett-Packard Photosmart E427 is priced at US$129.95 and ships from September 2006.