Nuggets: Fuji's identity crisis

Having trouble deciding what to get the gadget freak in your life this Christmas? How about a camera that thinks it's an MP3 player... or is that the other way around?

A combined digital camera and MP3 player that can also record digital video, the Fujifilm Finepix 40i is a chameleon of a device. But far from being a gimmick, the Finepix really does perform really rather well as both.

Despite its multi-functionality, the Finepix is small enough to pop into any pocket and good looking too! It has a case made from aluminium-magnesium alloy, available in either metallic blue or silver.

And combining these diverse features in one package is not so mad, after all. The SmartMedia memory format provides an ideal core to build a crossover product around and Fuji has gone a step further to create a device that competes well as either an MP3 player or a camera. Only major downer is the Finepix' fixed lens which lacks the magnification power of a larger stand-alone snapper.

You might expect that packing all this technology into so small a device would make the Finepix a harrowing bundle of complexity, but it doesn't. Out of the box it can be used in seconds... even by an idiot (ours was a gifted idiot who got it going within 2 minutes).

OK so it looks good and is pretty snazzy performer, but are the photos any good? Well it is powered by a 2.47m pixel Super CCD with a maximum resolution of 2,400 x 1,800 pixels, which makes it a feisty little contender for its size. Not at the top end of the performance league, but definitely a good buy for the money.

Unfortunately, what you don't get is a decent zoom, 'coz of the fixed lens. If you want to magnify something then you'll have to reduce the image resolution -- so, although the picture you take will look larger through the LCD screen it's no different than enlarging a picture in a software package.

Still, that's the price you pay for such a portable gadget.

The 1.8-inch LCD display is clear and accurate for so small a camera. As an MP3 player, the Finepix comes with headphones and a remote control, something missing with many more conventional devices and the remote can also be used to control the camera, which gains Fuji further points for ingenuity. Rechargeable batteries are another nice touch.

The Finepix 40i can store up to 80 minutes of audio playback on 64MB or six minutes worth of 80 second video bursts at a time...

...except that you only get an 8MB SmartMedia card as standard (sorry that really is pathetic). A 32MB Smartmedia card will probably set you back around £50, and a 64MB around £100, so take this into consideration if you're planning to take plenty of high-resolution snaps in one session.

The price (£480), reflects the fact that you are getting much more than just a camera and, in our opinion, the sheer ingenuity of this little thing, combined with its ease of use, makes it good value for money.

  • FujiFilm FinePix 40i

  • Digital camera with movie clip recording and MP3 playback

  • £480 (inc VAT)

  • 155g (210g with batteries and SmartMedia card), 85.5x71x28.5

  • 2.47 Megapixel CCD

  • File sizes - 2,400x1,800 / 1,280x960 / 640x480

  • Autofocus. Normal mode - 50cm to infinity, Macro - 6cm-50cm

  • Automatic/forced/slow synchro flash, red-eye reduction, automatic focus

  • 1.8inch LCD, optical viewfinder

  • MP3 playback

  • Motion picture recording (at 320x240)

  • 8MB SmartMedia card supplied

  • USB cable, Adobe PhotoDeluxe HE 3.0, MP3 software supplied


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