Kodak loads on the extras with its $149 EasyShare M863 and does so in a very compact package. And the camera's compatibility with Kodak's HDTV dock and printer make it a tempting option for one-stop shoppers. Unfortunately, the image quality isn't quite up to snuff.
Definitely on the small and light side, the 3.6 -- 2.2 -- 0.8-inch M863 is available in a bevy of colors, including silver, pink, black, red, copper, and blue. It sports a large and legible high-resolution 2.7-inch LCD monitor. Buttons are haphazardly placed around the camera, unfortunately. Because the Flash button is next to the Power button, and the Delete button is positioned right under the Zoom lever, it's possible to hit the wrong control by accident.
Kodak's menu structure is deceptively simple. It's easy to navigate, but some of the options, such as Sharpness, Maintain Settings, Multi-Pattern, and Multi-Zone, are more appropriate for advanced users than the entry-level market for which this camera is intended. We like that the memory card door is on the side, though.
Modes and Extras
Like theCanon PowerShot A580, the Kodak camera comes equipped with a rotary dial, but it has fewer positions than the A580 for setting the most frequently used modes. However, the SCN position brings up 18 additional modes, which is more than the Canon camera offers. Landing on each mode or pressing the OK button briefly displays a helpful explanation of what each mode does, and sometimes, how to use it. There are even two Panorama modes, one that lets you shoot from left to right, the other, from right to left.
The best thing about the M863 is that Kodak created a system rather than simply an individual camera. Like other models in the series, the M863 plugs into Kodak's $80 G610 snapshot printer and interfaces with its $100 HDTV Dock for displaying stills and videos on your widescreen TV.
Fast Shooter, Mixed Photo Quality
The M863 operates relatively fast. It powers up within 2 seconds, has a shutter lag of less than half a second, and can shoot a full-resolution image every 2.5 to 3 seconds. And it's always ready to shoot, even in Playback mode; just press the shutter halfway, and it instantly switches to Capture mode.
Image quality was somewhat uneven, and all images were slightly soft. Our flash pictures, even macro shots, were all perfectly exposed, but indoor pictures without flash were slightly underexposed and had a bluish tint. In our daylight photos, colors were muted, and highlights tended to blow out. On the plus side, face recognition worked well in both Auto and Portrait modes.
The M863's largest video resolution is 640 x 480 pixels but at a jerky 15 fps. We wish the camera offered a widescreen 16:9 aspect ratio. It's possible to zoom while filming video, something most other digital still cameras can't do, but for the most part the results aren't worth the effort.
Kodak EasyShare M863 Verdict
The Kodak EasyShare M863 is a decent choice for users who want an ultra-slim camera at an entry-level price and appreciate its ability to interface easily with a compatible printer and HDTV adpater. But those interested in better picture quality should look elsewhere. We recommend theCasio Exilim EX-Z9.