capsule review

FujiFilm FinePix 40i

Fuji's vision for the FinePix 40i is simple: combine sight and sound. Pairing an MP3 player and a digital camera into one device is innovative as well as convenient -- if you can live with the trade-offs.

Packed into the 40i's sleek, 3.5-by-3-inch brushed-aluminum case is a 2.4 million pixel CCD sensor Fuji calls SuperCCD (the same CCD used in the FinePix 4700,

). With this sensor, the 40i can produce images at 1,280-by-930- and 640-by-480-pixel resolutions natively, and 2,400 by 1,800 pixels through interpolation. The 40i is obviously geared toward beginners and hobbyists, but even experienced users will appreciate the camera's strengths. Its bright, 1.8-inch LCD and intuitive controls make framing shots, previewing images, and changing options effortless. The 40i foregoes a detachable lens cover and replaces it with a silver disc that quickly slides open when the camera is on. The camera offers manual adjustments for white balance, exposure compensation, and flash modes. In Movie mode, the 40i is capable of recording up to 80 seconds of motion JPEG footage with its 16MB of storage, and allows playback with sound. Rechargeable Ni-MH batteries (with charger), as well as an A/V output, USB connectivity, and a remote control nicely round out the camera's specs.

As feature packed as the 40i sounds, it's not without its flaws, particularly for a $700 camera. The included 16MB SmartMedia card is limiting, especially if you try to store images, movies, and MP3s. While in the field, you can delete files to free up storage, but it isn't possible to choose a single file to remove: deletion is done as a whole, not by, for example, MP3. As a result, an investment in more storage is an essential and added cost. Overall, the camera's image quality is good, with noise and lack of sharpness being our only major complaints. Taking pictures with the 40i requires a steady hand -- many of our shots came out blurry. Also, disappointingly, zooming is only possible in 1,280-by-930- and 640-by-480-pixel modes. We saw the best results in 2,400-by-1,800-pixel mode; images at lower resolutions were adequate for Web use. Motion JPEGs recorded with the 40i were also good, but again, probably best suited for Web use.

As an MP3 player, the FinePix 40i does a good job but it can't compete with many of the portable MP3 players on the market now, such as the psa play 120 and the Rio 600. Again, the most obvious shortcoming is storage: 16MB allows 15 minutes of playback at best, which isn't very long. Because it uses a proprietary technology (InfoBind) to load songs onto the camera via Fuji's software, MP3s cannot be read by players that don't use InfoBind. And, because the 40i doesn't support bitrates over 128 Kbps, it can't play higher quality MP3s. We recommend replacing the in-ear headset that comes with the package. We did -- it made listening to music much more enjoyable. Sound quality was optimum with bass turned all the way up.

At a Glance
  • Macworld Rating

    Pros

    • Rechargeable batteries
    • Pleasing image quality
    • Intuitive controls
    • Miniature design

    Cons

    • Limited storage
    • MP3 encoding is proprietary
    • Doesn't support bitrates over 128 Kbps
    • Headphones not optimum
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