Kodak EasyShare One: a real 4MP WiFi Camera by Paul C. Breenen

KodakWhen the Kodak EasyShare One was announced, it created a lot of conversation. It was the first WiFi enabled camera in the marketplace. It took nine more months to get it out. It created opportunities for specific market niches, such as real estate brokers, business people and EMTs that need instant sharing. Oh yes, it comes with a 256MB internal memory and uses an SD external memory card.

But all is not perfect in Kodak's WiFi land. While the EasyShare One is great for sharing photos, it's not so great at shooting them. The user interface, optimized for maximum simplicity, can be slow and annoying for anyone unwilling to settle for complete automation. The mediocre image quality further compounds my disappointment. On the other hand, the 3” LCD is fantastic with excellent details.

The EasyShare One is an attractive, well-built, compact camera made from high-quality brushed metal. The camera's control layout and menu interface, however, could use some improvement. Designed for point-n-shoot user, the interface is automation oriented and allows only a few setting changes. It's not as suitable for someone who needs to change a few settings when they incur different photo conditions as do I.

It can be slow and annoying to change settings. A handy plastic tipped stylus is designed to change menu items. Nice, but not easily held and easy to slip out of the camera case. Bad design. Many of the icons are too small and too close to the edge of the screen to use your fingers, forcing you to use the stylus. However, most all of the buttons are small and fairly recessed; they're difficult to trip accidentally but equally difficult to activate without being very nimble. Those who want manual control will be disappointed.

The EasyShare One's big LCD flips and twists on a hinge on the side of the camera and you can view the screen from the front or back. Clever design.

When it comes to sharing photos, you can upload your images to www.KodakGallery.com directly from the camera via a WiFi hot spot. You can e-mail thumbnails of selected pictures, including links.

For those wanting to capture moving images, there is a 640x480-pixel, 24fps MPEG-4 QuickTime movie mode with zoom and auto focus capabilities. This is an excellent feature but a modest implementation.

Despite its slow user interface, the EasyShare One is a pretty quick performer when it comes to the simple business of shooting photos. The unconscionable initial 7-10 second start up is compensated for by a short shutter lag time and a minimum time between shots.

The color produced by the camera is very saturated and nonadjustable with easily blown-out highlights. Thin halos along high-contrast edges, as around dark text against a light field, indicate over sharpening and excessive compression (a characteristic of many Kodak cameras). My experience suggests that if you remain under ISO 200, you’ll obviate most halo, blooming and high contrast images where the top end becomes “overexposed”
There is a handy 4:3 option for capturing images in the tradition 4x6 inch size.

Its Wi-Fi capabilities are awesome. I was very surprised, expecting it to be somewhat slow, but it finds and connects to wireless devices quickly and easily. The EasyShare One doesn't incorporate the same universal hot-spot access that a notebook or a PDA may have. Even the most novice user should have few problems making prints or sending emails.

This camera falls far short of cameras in both this size and especially price range. It's only 4MP and for the price, it should be at least 5. The image quality is decidedly subpar. Significant amounts of noise arise in low light settings, and even with sufficient lighting, details fail to show up very well. If WiFi and easily, immediately shared photos is your thing, buy this camera, but not for the quality of its pictures. Clever idea, just ahead of its time and not well implemented. For more info, firmware updates go to www.kodak.com.

Paul C. Breenen is a HAL-PC member, entrepreneur and co-owner of www.tias.com, the largest purely antiques and collectibles site on the web. He can be contacted at pcbeenen@hal-pc.org.