Although it took nine months from announcement to shipment, the Kodak EasyShare One has arrived with its promised 76mm (3-inch) touch-screen LCD and Wi-Fi transfer capabilities. With them, the camera opens up genuinely original possibilities for travellers, business people and government agencies that need instant photo sharing. But all is not perfect in Kodak's wireless utopia. While the EasyShare One is great for sharing photos, it's not so brilliant at shooting them. The user interface, optimised for maximum simplicity, can be slow and annoying for anyone unwilling to settle for complete automation. The poor image quality further compounds our disappointment.
The Kodak EasyShare One is an attractive, well-built, compact camera made from high-quality brushed metal accented in white. The camera's control layout and menu interface, however, could use some improvement. Designed for casual photographers, the interface favours automation and doesn't allow you to change many settings. While this might work for an insurance agent at an accident scene or a foreman documenting a building site, it's not as suitable for someone who may need to change a few settings to get a better shot.
Changing settings can be slow and annoying. You access them mostly through the 76mm LCD using either the touch screen or a four-way directional pad. Adjusting common parameters such as ISO sensitivity and white balance requires digging into the setup menu -- changing from Auto ISO to ISO 400 requires a whopping 13 button presses!
The only time-saving controls on the Kodak EasyShare One are Flash and Share buttons. All of the buttons are small and fairly recessed -- they're difficult to trip accidentally but equally difficult to activate without some nimble fingerwork.
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 small stylus nestled in the side of the camera -- at least until you lose it. Most of the icons make immediate sense and don't require a trip to the manual, but some are more opaque. A stack of two offset rectangles, which usually indicates a continuous-drive mode, instead controls stored album names. To change the drive mode, you press the shots-remaining icon. Furthermore, adjusting exposure is a tedious process. Rather than a Windows-style slider control, you must cycle through 13 one-third-stop increments. If you miss your setting, you must cycle through them again.
The Kodak EasyShare One's big LCD flips and twists on a hinge on the side of the camera. You can flip it forward for self-portraits and timer shots, down to hold the camera above your head, or against the camera body to protect it. However, you can't flip it up to shoot with the camera at or below your waist.
There is one potential silver lining to the EasyShare One's interface woes: because it's entirely menu driven, in theory Kodak should be able to update it with a software download. While Kodak plans no such update at the moment, it remains an option.