Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart Update

by John Henshall

Back from Istanbul, I can now give you more precise pricing information on the Hewlett-Packard PhotoSmart system and confirm that it is the kind of news existing photographic manufacturers must have been dreading.

Grand Bazaar, IstanbulDrinks SellerThis was not the normal kind of press show - suited sales and marketing types bombarding delegates with bullet-point presentation after bullet-point presentation. What Hewlett-Packard had the guts to do was sit press delegates from all over Europe behind tables containing twenty five complete PhotoSmart kits and let them loose.

First, they went out around Istanbul - to the Grand Covered Bazaar, the Topkapi Palace - capturing images on PhotoSmart digital cameras. After lunch at the Pera Palace, the hotel built in 1892 to accomodate Orient PlatesExpress passengers, where Mata Hari and Greta Garbo stayed and Agatha Christie wrote 'Murder on the Orient Express', they returned to download their images into their workstations and begin using Picture It! software to create collages using their own images and text.

GirlsThe atmosphere was electric as fifty journalists, many from lifestyle magazines with no previous computer experience, let alone any digital imaging experience, got stuck in. Each desk had two cameras, scanner, printer and CD writer. Each item was explained briefly, then used by the delegates themselves. Not only did they go away with prints of their work but also with a CD, which they themselves 'burned', containing all their images.

The message was clear, powerful and subtley stated: the PhotoSmart system is easy for anyone to use, no matter how little computer or digital imaging experience they have.

Last month I could only guess at prices but I can now give you HP's recommended street prices for the components: Digital Camera £349, Scanner £399, Printer £399 and CD-Writer £435.

I took my Nikon F4, loaded with Fuji 200 colour negative, round Istanbul and scanned the processed negatives on the HP PhotoSmart Scanner at the maximum 2400 pixels per inch resolution. The 22MB file size should be good enough for a full page of A4. Some of the results are shown on this page. Pretty good for a £399 scanner.

This article first appeared in "John Henshall's Chip Shop" in "The Photographer" magazine, July/August 1997.
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