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2nd April 2007
Epson P-3000 storage viewer review
by Ian Burley
3286: Epson P-3000 storage viewer review

Epson's fourth-generation storage viewer gets an improved ergonomic design, better controls and an enhanced VGA Photo Fine Ultra display.

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Just over two years ago we were wowed by the Epson P-2000, a total re-think of its original, and not very impressive, P-1000 multimedia storage viewer concept. The P-2000 combined a superb screen, impressive build quality and ease of use. Since then, there have been various minor changes to the P-2000 seen in subsequent models, but the new P-3000 and its larger capacity P-5000 sibling is the product of some more in-depth changes.

Further down this page we have a detailed look at the P-3000 via a captioned product photo gallery. Epson P-3000 storage viewer picture gallery. On page 2 you can examine some screen menu views and on the final page 3 we have a detailed specifications page.

P-2000 concept retained

The basic P-2000 concept is retained. The P-3000 centres around a large and very high quality LCD screen. It's still 640x480 resolution, or 307,200 pixels, but the screen diagonal is now four inches, up from 3.8 inches, or an increase in area of slightly under 11 percent.

Epson has also complemented the screen's conventional red, green and blue dots with emerald green dots. This enables Epson to successfully display images encoded in Adobe RGB colour space. You wouldn't be advised to use the P-3000 for critical colour matching; the changes in ambient light that go hand-in-hand with a portable device like this rule out that ideal, but the P-3000's screen is the best of its type for displaying photographs that I've yet seen.

Most immediately noticeable, if you are familiar with the P-2000, is the chunkier design which is easier to hold securely. The finish and shape of the ends lend themselves far better to being gripped. The control buttons are now raised to allow a better tactile feel. You now also get a USB host port, so other storage devices can be hooked up and files copied between the two. The little desktop stand supplied with the P-2000 has gone, but the same neoprene-like protective wallet remains.

The user interface has been simplified and some of the pretty icon-based default screens have made way for more functional text menus. But to compensate, there is a 100% (1 image pixel to 1 screen pixel) zoom indicator, an exposure histogram overlay – though not for separate colour channels – and video playback is largely free of frame-skipping, which was one of the minor disappointments of the P-2000.

RAW file support

Epson has invested heavily in RAW image file display support and there are only a few missing marques, notably Panasonic and Sigma. Adobe's universal RAW format, DNG, is supported.

Some room for improvement

Overall, it's very hard not to like the P-3000, but there is still room for improvement. There are very well-implemented SD and Compact Flash card slots, but no support for Memory Stick, xD or older SmartMedia card types.

When browsing large images, there is a noticeable delay when moving from one image to the next, especially when viewing RAW images. Some kind of predictive caching system is really needed to improve the P-3000's responsiveness in this regard.

I was a bit surprised that, although there is a video-out port, no video lead is included in the box.

Another minor moan is that, although great to hold and use, the P-3000 remains a relatively large and bulky device to carry around. Epson could probably have made it half as thick as it is.

Finally, I find the P-3000's 40GB storage capacity strangely limiting, especially considering the fairly hefty price tag. You can double the storage to 80GB by going for the otherwise identical P-5000 but the price premium is severe.

Conclusions

If price is not a major concern of yours and the P-3000's form, factor and features are exactly what you need, it's a very attractive product and we were very sorry to see it go back to Epson. But when you consider that the P-3000's price is close to an entry-level laptop computer, you can see that this is a specialist product with a premium price.

Our extended traffic light rating system explained.


RATINGS:


Features:

EXCELLENT With its remarkable Photo Fine Ultra, combined with multiple still format viewing capability, including a wide range of RAW formats, and music and video playback too the P-3000 is loaded with features.  

Performance:

GOOD Battery life, video and audio playback are very good. File transfers were speedy too. Only when perusing a series of large image files did performance want. The screen is a gem.  

Build quality:

EXCELLENT The Epson P-3000 exudes quality in terms of its design and construction and sets itself apart from more inexpensive storage viewers on the market.  

Design:

GOOD I really wanted to give a top mark in this category as the P-3000's design is full of thoughtful features that make the device a delight to use. But, that said, the P-3000 is large and bulky and I feel it could have enjoyed a slimmed-down design.  

Ease of use:

GOOD Overall, the P-3000 is quite easy to operate, though I did find some of the menu items a little unclear. It seems odd, for example, that there are three different avenues leading to your images, instead of one.  

Value for money:

GOOD This is another rating that could easily have been 'Excellent' as the P-3000 is a uniquely crafted tool for photographers. But with only 40GB storage space, the asking price is just too high so it gets the next rating down, though that's still a 'Good' one.  

What we liked and what we didn't

The good points:

  • Marvelous display
  • Superb build quality
  • Good video playback performance
  • Good battery performance
  • Confidence-inspiring to hold and operate
  • Good RAW file support built in
  • The not so good points:

  • No escaping from the size and bulkiness of the design
  • Some aspects of the menu system not as logical as they could be
  • Relatively limited storage capacity
  • Delay in loading large images
  • We wish it could be more affordable in price
  • OVERALL RATINGS

    At DPNow we don't much rate stars and percentages because they mean one thing to one reviewer and something else to another - this is why we use our own rating system above, but as the industry demands such devices we reluctantly provide them based on our concept of the product's target market, the competition and how we got on with the product while testing it.


    DPNow rated: 87%


    87percent

    DPNow rated: 4.5 stars (out of 5)


    4.5/5 stars
    DPNow is pleased to award the Epson P-3000 our Editor's Choice award


    Epson P-3000 storage viewer picture gallery



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    Menus and screens




    screen1 screen2
    The is the general view if the P-3000 settings menu.

         To view photos you simply choose 'My Photos', if you have organised any in your P-3000, or browse 'Backup Files' or 'Memory Card'.

    screen3 screen4
    Here is the thumbnail view when browsing images.

    Star ratings, out of 5, can be applied to your images.

    screen5 screen6
    The red box shows the scope of an image zoom function.

    And here is a zoomed in view, with this example showing a 100% 1 image pixel to 1 screen pixel view.

    screen7 screen8
    Image Exif metadata and a histogram can be overlayed.

    Flashing highlight and shadow warnings are also available if required.



    Specifications


    Part Number B31B186003CZ
    Epson Photo Fine Ultra TFT
    LCD 4.0 inch Low Temperature Poly-Silicon TFT
    640 x R-YG-B-EG x 480 dots
    R,YG,B,EG (Red, Yellow Green, Blue, Emerald Green)
    Colours 16.77 million colours
    Interface
    SD memory card slot
    CF Card slot (TYPE II)
    USB2.0 High Speed Host (Standard-A, USB devices)
    USB2.0 High Speed Device (Mini-B, PC, PictBridge) *1
    AV out connector (NTSC/PAL) *2
    AC adaptor connector
    Audio out connector (Stereo mini jack)
    Memory card support
    PSD/SDHC Memory card /Multimedia card *3/Compact flash/Micro Drive
    Supported Media
    Photo JPEG (Up to 30 million pixels, exclude progressive)
    RAW *4
    Video MPEG1/2 - 720x480 @ 30fps, 720x576 @ 25fps *5
    MPEG4 - 720x480 @ 30fps, 720x576 @ 25fps *6
    DivX® - 720x480 @ 30fps, 720x576 @ 25fps *7
    H.264/AVC - 320x240 @ 30fps *8
    WMV9 - 352x288 @ 30fps *9 *10
    Motion JPEG - 720x480 @ 30fps, 720x576 @2 5fps, 320x240 @ 60fps
    * Supported file size is up to 2GB
    Music MP3 - 320kbps, 48KHz, 16bit, stereo
    AAC - 320kbps, 48KHz, 16bit, stereo *10
    WMA - 48k-192kbps, 48KHz,16bit, stereo *10
    * Supported file size is up to 100MB
    USB connection
    Printer which supports PictBridge /External memory device
    OS support
    Windows (R) Windows (R) 2000 Professional/XP Home Edition/XP Professional Recommended systems requirements - Pentium 3, 1GHz, 256 RAM, 100MB hard disc space
    Macintosh Mac OS X (Ver.10.2 or later)
    Recommended systems requirements - Power PC G4 700MHz, 512 RAM, 150MB hard disc space
    Dimensions & Weight
    150mm×88.7mm×33.1mm (WxHxD)
    * Excluding minor body protrusions
    Approx. 426g
    Power
    AC adaptor
    Lithium-ion battery
    Power consumption
    AC adaptor: 7.9W Battery: 6.3W
    Box contents *11
    Lithium-ion battery, USB cable, AC adapter, power cable, strap, carrying case, users guide
    Software (included)
    EPSON Link2, Quick Time(Windows), PDF users guide


    1 To run USB2.0, you need a Windows® computer that has 2000/XP preinstalled and is factory-equipped with USB2.0-compliant ports, or a Macintosh computer that is running Mac® OS X (Ver. 10.2.7 or later) and is factory-equipped with USB 2.0 compliant ports.
    2 Video cable is not included
    3 Up to 1GB
    4 RAW support list (Thumbnail images in the RAW file is used for display)
    Canon EOS-1Ds Mark II/1D Mark II N/1D Mark II/5D/30D/20D/10D/D30/D60/Kiss Digital/Kiss Digital N
    KONICA MINOLTA a-7 DIGITAL?aSweet DIGITAL
    Nikon D2X/D2Hs/D2H/D1H/D1X/D200/D100/D70s/D70/D50
    OLYMPUS E-1/E-330/E-300/E-500
    PENTAX *ist DS2/*ist DL2/*ist DL/*ist DS/*ist D/K100D
    EPSON R-D1s/R-D1
    FujiFilm S2Pro/S3Pro
    Sony alpha 100
    5MP@ML, Average 8Mbps / Peak 10Mbps
    6Advanced Simple Profile support. Average 4Mbps/ Peak 8Mbps
    7Home Theater Profile. Average 4Mbps/ Peak 8Mbps. Interactive menu function is not supported
    8Baseline Profile Level 1,2. Average 768kbps / Peak 850kbps
    9MP@LL, Average 768Kbps / Peak 850kbps
    10Lossless compressed file and DRM protected file are not supported.
    11Application CD is not provided in box. All the applications are stored in the main unit HDD. Please refer to quick reference guide for how to install the applications to your computer.

    Specifications are subject to change.

     
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