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HP PhotoSmart 315

HP's "entry-level+" model offers 2.1 megapixels and ease of use at a bargain price.

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Page 3:Design

Review First Posted: 03/14/2001

Designed for the beginning photographer who wants the ease of a point-and-shoot at a very affordable price, Hewlett-Packard's PhotoSmart 315 digicam has a very straightforward user interface. Slightly more sophisticated than the PS 215, the 315 model features more external exposure controls and fewer LCD menu adjustments (using the extra menu space to accommodate animated icons). It measures only 5.0 x 2.7 x 1.3 inches (128 x 86 x 33mm), making it more likely to fit into a pocket, and very lightweight at only eight ounces (227g), without the batteries. A wrist strap is supplied for easy transportation.

From the front of the camera, the lens, built-in flash, optical viewfinder window, flash sensor, and self-timer LED are all visible. The lens and optical viewfinder window are protected by a sliding lens cover, which also serves as the Record mode power switch. When the lens cover is slid open (a vertical blue ridge along the opening seam makes it easy to open and close with the left hand), the camera is turned on and placed into Record mode. Closing the cover shuts off the camera, except when the Playback mode is activated (see Executive Overview). A stubbed rubber finger grip protrudes from the front of the right hand grip, providing a comfortable hold for your fingers as they wrap around the camera body. A nearly invisible infrared sensor is next to the self-timer LED.

The left side of the camera houses the AC power adapter and USB jacks, which are accessible without a protective covering. On the opposite side of the camera is the CompactFlash media slot, covered by a hinged, plastic door that snaps securely into place. The CompactFlash card fits into the slot with the electrodes going in first, and the front of the card facing the front of the camera. A small blue latch pulls out and snaps over the card to hold it into place, then pulls out again to serve as a button, which you push to release the card from the slot. The compartment door has a small metal extension rod near the bottom of the hinge, which serves as the attachment for the wrist strap.

The PhotoSmart 315's top panel features a light-blue shutter button, a small status display panel, and two control buttons that control the Flash, Image Quality, and Self-timer. The shutter button also activates the JetSend infrared function, which communicates with Hewlett-Packard's JetSend-compatible printers and allows you to print individual images wirelessly.

The remaining exposure controls are located on the camera's back panel, along with the LCD monitor and optical viewfinder. The optical viewfinder eyepiece, which protrudes slightly from the back panel, features a fairly high eyepoint for eyeglass wearers. The relatively large LCD monitor takes up the center portion of the back panel, with the Display, Menu, and OK/Arrow rocker pad on the right side. Two small stubbed pads serve as thumb grips for both hands, one on the top right side and the other to the left of the LCD monitor.

Two LED lamps on the back panel report the camera's status. For example, when the green LED next to the optical viewfinder is flashing, the camera's autofocus system is having trouble focusing on the subject, or there isn't enough light for the shot. When it glows a steady green, the camera is focused and ready to expose the image, when it glows red, the flash is recharging, the last photo is being processed, or there is a problem with the memory card (i.e.: it's full, damaged, or missing). The second LED lamp is in the top right corner of the back panel. It glows yellow when the camera is accessing the memory card, which means you should not open the memory card door.

A plastic, threaded tripod mount and battery compartment door are located on the bottom panel of the camera. The plastic battery compartment slides forward and opens outward to access the batteries. Because of the compartment's close proximity to the tripod mount, quick battery changes are impossible when working with a tripod. However, we do appreciate the side access to the CompactFlash slot, which is unhindered by the tripod mount plate. You can also use the AC power adapter on the left side of the camera while mounted on a tripod.

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