HP Photosmart M425 First Impressions Review$149.99
The front of the HP Photosmart M425 features a telescoping lens barrel positioned on the right side of the front face. This retractable barrel has a polished silver ring surrounding it, and both the ring and the barrel extend slightly from the camera body. Above and slightly to the right of the lens ring, users will find the AF assist light with the monaural microphone placed slightly above it. This microphone placement is close enough to the edge of the camera body to pick up both lens noise and get muffled by meandering fingers. To the left of the camera’s lens and along the top edge of the camera, users will find the horizontal flash. From the top of the camera to the bottom edge, a scalloped curve has been carved into the camera face, effectively echoing both the curve of the lens barrel and the upper right-hand corner, which has been rounded off to give the camera a less boxy aesthetic.
On the back of the camera, users will find the underwhelming, 1.7-inch LCD screen, with a resolution of 115 K pixels. This LCD screen is framed and raised from the camera body. Running along the top edge of this frame, users will find three slim buttons that provide access to Flash, Photo Express menus, and the Shooting/Playback Modes for this camera. These buttons are positioned in an uncomfortable and unintuitive place. On the R927 and the R725, HP finally got it right, placing these and other features on the top of the camera with clearly labeled, well sized buttons.
Moving towards the top edge of the camera body, the back face of the camera slants into the rest of the body of the M425, and once again, HP decided to position a control directly in this transition. The placement of the On/Off button at this juncture and its slender horizontal shape means that inevitably the side of a fingernail must be used to turn the camera on. This feature is also less than well labeled and easily overlooked.
To the left of the On/Off button, there is a bright blue LED which signals the current running state of the camera. The area to the right of the LCD is slightly depressed, effectively functioning as a thumb rest for the right hand. At the top edge of this shallow depression is the zoom toggle, which is shaped like an L rotated 90 degrees clockwise. Beneath this control, the well-sized four-way control features a large Menu/OK button at its center. Both of these controls are sized and shaped appropriately. Beneath the four-way control is a single lozenge-shaped control that functions as the Delete button for the camera when reviewing images in Playback.
The right side of the HP Photosmart M425 has only one feature to note, a recessed eyelet for an optional wrist strap. This inset eyelet will be harder to thread than those which extend out from the camera body; however, users won’t need to worry about this version catching on a pocket’s edge or purse’s lining.
The left side of the camera body has a small and light gray rubber port cover hinged to the camera by its top edge. When flipped upwards from the camera, it reveals the USB and DC in ports for the M425. Unlike other R-series models, like the R725 which used a locking cover, this rubber tab will easily be flipped open during transport and carrying, exposing these two potentially fragile ports. The top edge of the left side curves into the top of the camera body.
**The top of the M425 features a rounded transition from the top to the left side, while the other three edges are only slightly rounded. There are only two features on the top of the camera, both of which are on the far right half. Towards the front of the camera the user will find the unlabeled though well sized shutter button, an oval of polished silver. Parallel to the Shutter button and towards the back of the camera is a second smaller oval control that engages and disengages the movie mode for the M425. This simple, uncluttered design should make controlling these features an easy process.
**The M425 contains two features hidden by a locking port cover found directly beneath the slight right-hand grip. When the port covered is opened, the user will find port for the two AA batteries and the port for an optional SD memory card. Users will also find the port for the optional wireless or standard dock for printing and sharing of images on the M425’s bottom; it is not beneath a port cover. Next to this is a plastic tripod socket which will become easily stripped through continual use, much more so than a metal one.