With this multimedia device, you can view and print photos, and play music and video too. Jamie Harrison finds out if it is better than its rivals

p2000PRICE: £350

*TYPE: Multimedia Viewer
*LCD: 3.8inches 640×3(RGB) x 480 pixels / 921,600 pixels total
*MEDIA: CF/SD/ Adapters available for other media
*FILE FORMAT: JPEG, TIFF, CRW, NEF, CR2, ERF, MP3,AAC, MPEG-4. Other video codecs supported through conversion via included software
*POWER: Rechargeable Li-Ion Battery, AC adapter included
*DIMENSIONS: 147x84x31.4mm
*WEIGHT: 415g

There is a host of ways of viewing your images: on the back of your camera, on the PC, on the web, prints or on a portable media viewer. Such is the Epson P2000. This is the latest version of a device first seen last year, in the form of the P1000, but now with added capabilities ? and a more sensible price. Converging technologies has been a buzz phrase for a number of years. Mobile camera phones are the obvious example, but several portable devices are going photo-friendly such as the iPod Photo, a music player with photo-viewing capabilities. The Epson P2000 is a photo viewer with music capabilities. It can also play video clips, but it is still primarily a photo viewer aimed at the photo market.
The clue to its purpose is the screen. Seiko Epson is the world?s largest manufacturer of LCD screens, and it is this technology that sets the P2000 apart. With a 3.8inch high-resolution screen the P2000 really becomes a useful way of displaying and checking your images. It accepts Compact Flash and Secure Digital media cards, so copying JPEGs and TIFFs to the device is easy, and can even display RAW files from Nikon, Canon and Epson cameras, including the new RD1 (in fact, the RD1 is the only Epson camera to take RAW fi les). Other media card formats require an optional adapter. Another major advantage the P2000 has over its rivals is its printing facility ? the P2000 has full PictBridge compatibility. PictBridge is a pretty mature technology now, and is included with almost every printer introduced over the past year or so. The P2000 simply plugs into the printer via USB and selected photos can be printed direct. For alternatives to prints, collections of images can be made into slideshows and shown on the TV or PC. Or you could connect to a CD burner and burn CDs direct from the unit. I mentioned multimedia, and Epson has introduced MP3 and AAC audio playback into the unit. A built in speaker produces a tinny but audible sound, which is much improved by using headphones, or plugging in external speakers. I wouldn?t rate the sound better than the iPod, ? but I?m not a HiFi reviewer ? but it is certainly competent. The other component to its multimedia facility is video. This is limited to AVI, MOV and MPEG 4, so don?t expect DVD quality, but it is good enough for your camera?s video clips and internet downloads, for example. Archos units may have more functionality as Personal Video Devices, but the P2000 is a reasonable alternative if video is your secondary consideration. The device is larger than most of its rivals, mainly due to the screen, which doesn?t really make it a pocket accessory. It?s about twice the size of an iPod, but then the screen is almost the same size as an iPod itself.
It?s the LCD screen which is really the killer function on the P2000. And the 40GB capacity means you could carry about 7,000 8MP images in your gadget bag. How many boxes would you need to carry that many 6x4in prints?

The P2000 may not be as portable or versatile as some other multimedia devices, but for the photographer it stands head and shoulders above the crowd.

PROS: LCD, RAW support, 40 GB
CONS: Size

Features 19
Ease of use 19
Performance 19
Design 18
Value 17