Snap-happy? Have you Clik!ed?

Agfa's CL30 camera lets you store pics on a high-capacity disk. It's a shame that it munches batteries like Smarties, says Justin Stevens.

Beneath all the brouhaha about digital cameras there has always been a downside, namely that with some of them you have to download pictures to your computer before you can take another snap. This isn't too handy when you've reached that really great part of the school trip and the photo opportunities are coming thick and fast. Oh, for the days of the 35mm camera you cry, when you could simply insert a new film and capture those magic moments quickly once again. A lack of memory in a digital camera, can ruin the chance of preserving those memories for years to come (although come to think of it, some school trips are better left as a distant memory).

Agfa aims to make the problem a thing of the past with its ePhoto CL30 Clik!, which can save up to 60 photos at its maximum resolution (1.5M-pixel resolution) and 360 at low resolution on dinky 40MB Clik! disks. The photographs it produces at top resolution are clear and sharp and are stored in a matter of seconds. As with most digital cameras, you can immediately review these images on the camera's colour LCD screen or on TV, and discard images you don't want. So far so good.

On the downside, the camera is not a very sexy beast; it's clunky, chunky, noisy and looks like one of those cheap throwaway jobs you buy just before flying off to bluer skies. This is not necessarily a bad thing (I've always said the cheaper it looks,the less likely it is to be pinched) but those with smaller hands may well find the camera slipping from their grasp at awkward moments.

The biggest drawback though is the Agfa's battery consumption. This camera beats the first Binatone personal stereo (yes, the really cheap make!) I bought in 1984 for battery consumptionI the Clik! eats them like Smarties. It brought back memories of having to insert four AA batteries to listen to Daryl Hall and John Oates' tape (gulp!) one and a half times - this camera seems to say "Feed me!" every time I took a few snaps.

On the plus side, its one-button control is easy to get the hang of, but you may well find yourself itching for some other kind of lens so that you can capture those more artytricky shots.

Besides this it is a solid performer and the tiny and likeable Clik! disks could be a major step forward for digital image storage. Prints made on an Epson Stylus Photo 870 inkjet printer are of a high quality for digital cameras and often surprise in their clarity.

Overall a good performer, then, with some problems in its execution and a voracious appetite for copper-topped treats.

Agfa ePhoto CL30 Clik!

Price: pound;350; 40Mb Clik! disks: pound;8; Iomega Clik! card drive for your computer: pound;179; Clik! PC Card Dock (allows connection to the PC from laptop): pound;35

ONLINE STAR RATING: Agfa ePhoto CL30 Clik!

Suitability for purpose ***

Ease of use ****

Design **

Quality of output ***

Value for money ****

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