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With digital media becoming more and more accessible, companies are striving to make things easier for those of us who are technically challenged. One of the fore-runners in this quest are Kodak with their Easyshare system.
The Easyshare system is, quite simply, a system designed to make sharing your pictures easy. Kodak produce a number of cameras at different prices and with different features in the Easyshare range and have then designed a simple docking system to make transferring your pictures to your computer or TV screen a piece of cake. Coupled with branded software that enables you to manipulate and organise your photos there's not much more to it than that.
DO I NEED ONE?
If you have reached this point and don't own, or are not about to own a Kodak Easyshare digital camera then the answer is clearly NO. If you do have a camera then read on....
The Camera Dock 6000 is designed to be compatible with all 6000 and 7000 series cameras produced by Kodak. It is not backwards compatible to the early 4000 series cameras. Although the design of the cameras in the 6/7000 series vary enormously, each is supplied with a little clear plastic insert that can be used to adapt the generic dock to a specific piece of equipment for your camera.
So, what does it do?
***EASY PICTURE TRANSFER***
Once your camera is in the dock a simple click of the "Transfer" button on the dock (the only one you can press!) and your pictures will be transferred to your computer. The pictures themselves will automatically be filed (although you have a say where) in an easy to use format which is prescribed by the underlying Easyshare software.
Without the dock there are several ways of transferring your pictures. You could take the media card out and use a card reader attached to or built in to your PC or printer. Alternatively you can plug a data cable into the camera (supplied with the camera). Although the data cable sounds simple it does mean yet another wire to trail across your desk and the wire itself can be extremely difficult to plug into the camera as the design of the protective port cover is poor.
****RECHARGES YOUR BATTERY***
Kodak cameras come with rechargeable Li-ion batteries. Rather than having to take the battery out of the camera to recharge it, the simple action of placing the camera into the dock is sufficient to start the recharging process. No buttons to push, no need to turn the camera on. A fully charged battery in less than 3 hours.
Although the camera comes with a battery recharger, the dock is clearly a huge advantage as you can simply store the camera in the dock knowing that it will always be fully charged and ready to roll.
So, a glorified desk tidy that means you don't have to take the battery or media card out of the camera.... do you need one?
There are some downsides to the dock the most important one for me being speed of transfer. Downloading a full 256mb media card using the dock is terminally slow (transfer rate of 1.1). It's much quicker to take the card out and put it into the card reader in my Canon printer and even faster to insert the card into the card reader in the computer tower.
I have also had some reliability issues with the dock and have found that half-way through a transfer it will just give up the ghost and state that there has been a transfer error or that a particular image is unreadable despite the format being the same as the previously transferred images. Take the media card out and put it into a card reader and there are no problems.
The other issue I have is that when you transfer pictures from the dock the action causes the camera to turn on and a little light to flash at the back of the camera. Once the pictures are downloaded the only way to stop this is to lift the camera out of the dock and then replace it. Hardly a big issue but an annoyance.
EASE OF INSTALLATION
This really is a piece of cake. So long as you have a spare power socket to plug the power lead in and a free USB socket in your computer then you will have no issues as with the wizard-installed Easyshare software this really is a plug-and-play piece of equipment.
The plastic inserts that customise the dock for the specific camera models simply slot onto the top of the dock, easy as you like.
The whole dock is fairly robust although I think care should be taken with the plastic insert as it looks rather flimsy.
The camera is snug on the top of the dock and it is easy to site - if you can put a cordless kettle on its base then you can put a camera on this dock.
SO, DO YOU *REALLY* NEED ONE?
Despite the fact that the functionality isn't particularly impressive I must say that I wouldn't be without mine. Whilst it doesn't set the world on fire, for me the biggest plus has to be the fact that I have a ready-charged battery in the camera at all times and a safe secure way of storing the camera.
I don't have the faff of plugging and unplugging leads each time I want to transfer pictures or charge the battery. That suits me. It simplifies life.
Whether it is worth £40 to you who can say. For me, I would say it is.