epsonp7000sm.jpg

If you’re not familiar with any of the “P-series,” (technically Epson calls these “Multimedia Viewers” because they play videos and music), they’re part portable hard drive for safely backing up your memory cards on location, part photo-viewer with a big bright screen, and part in-the-field laptop replacement, because you can create collections, do slideshows with a music background; you can sort and rate your images on them, and a half dozen other things in a size so small you can fit it in your camera bag. I’ve been using these “P’s” since there was a P-2000 and I take one on every location shoot without fail, as it’s become an important part of my workflow.

Anyway, I got to play around with the P-7000 quite a bit this past week, and I wanted to give you a quick review on what’s new, and why I like the P-7000 so much better than my beloved P-5000.

Here’s what I loved:

  • The Larger Storage Size; Epson has doubled the storage sizes of both units (compared to the previous P-3000 and P-5000). At 160GB the P-7000 has double the memory of my P-5000 and the P-6000 is 80GB (vs. 40GB for the P-3000). Last week (at my Mary Duprie workshop), I had to delete files on my old P-5000 to fit the shots from that day, so the 160 GB version is going to mean more to me than I once thought.
  • Better Software: If I had a gripe with the P-5000, it was that the software needed to be a little more robust. It did a lot, but it fell short in a couple of areas (especially when it came to importing images), but luckily the new software is MUCH better (it looks pretty much the same, but it has enhanced functionality in a number of areas).
  • It’s faster at Importing Images. These new units are supposed to be 35% faster at importing images ( I didn’t run lab tests to confirm, but I can tell you it definitely feels faster).
  • The Screen Display is Off The Hook: The new screen technology, using Epson’s “Photo Fine Premia” technology (which displays 16.7 million colors) is just stunning. It’s incredibly crisp, bright, and pretty much blows away what you see on the back of your camera’s LCD (and the new screens encompass 94% of the entire gamut of the Adobe RGB Color Space used by many photographers). When you zoom in tight to view your images really close (to check sharpness, etc), the display is tack sharp, and you can get in really, really close.
  • They added a new Jog Wheel to help you scroll through your images more easily (this is bigger improvement than you might think. Ask anyone who has an earlier P-series).
  • The P-7000 comes with a nice little travel pack, which includes a travel case, a car charger, and dual battery charger, and a few other little kickers.

What I Wish Were Different:

  • The software is much better for sure, but the overall design of the interface still needs a lot of work. Since this was designed for photographers, the interface design should appeal to creative types. Looks matter, and I’d love to see the look of the interface get the same amount of attention everything else has. Right now, the software is very functional. The problem is; it needs to look better, be easier to use, and more fun to use.
  • They’re pretty darn expensive; The P-6000 has a street price of $599 and the P-7000 goes for $799. I know they replace you having to carry an expensive laptop into the field to back up and view your images (which is does for me), but it shouldn’t actually cost as much as a laptop (for example, Dell’s new Vostro 1710 laptop, with a 17″ widescreen LCD display, 1 GB RAM, an 80GB hard drive, and built-in DVD burner sells for $100 less than the P-7000; at just $699). I think Epson needs to reevaluate the prices of both units, but the marketplace will ultimately decide if it’s too high or not.

The Bottomline
It is, without a doubt, the best P-series Epson’s ever made. The software, while not where I’d like it to be, is certainly much improved over earlier versions. The speed is better, the screen is insanely good—all the hardware parts of this puppy just rock. Best of all, it fits snugly in my camera bag (even my smallest one) and knowing that my images are backed up while I’m on location is absolutely invaluable to me. If price isn’t a big factor, and you want the very best back-up and photo viewer on the planet, pick up either the P-6000 or 7000 when they come out in September.

(Photo above courtesy of Epson).