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GE E1486tw Digital Camera Review

by The Review CrewJune 5, 2010

The GE E1486TW is a 14-megapixel camera with an 8x optical wide zoom lens. GE has created a control-free back on the E1486TW by placing most of the controls on a 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD. The camera has a tough aluminium body, compact design and HDMI connectivity. Its packed with features as well. One that stands out and we look forward to testing is the Pan-Capture Panorama, a new way to make panoramic photos. It also has face detection, blink detection, smile detection and auto scene detection. The E1486TW is available in three colors: black, red and silver and has an MSRP of $199.99.

GE E1486TW Features:

  • 14-Megapixel CCD imager
  • lens consists of 8 elements in 12 groups with a  35mm film equivalent of  28 – 224mm
  • 8x optical zoom
  • Optical Image Stabilization
  • 3.0-inch LCD Color Touch Screen
  • Movie Mode; HD @ 1280×720, 640×480 or 320×240 with audio
  • 12 scene modes
  • 160 shots on a fully charged battery
  • ISO speeds: Auto, 80, 100, 200, 400, 800, 1600, 3200
  • Uses removable SD/SDHC memory cards
  • Powered by Lithium Ion battery

Whats in the box:

  • E1486TW camera
  • Rechargeable Lithium-ion Battery
  • Battery Charger
  • USB cable
  • Wrist strap
  • CD ROM Manual
  • Quick Start Guide
  • Arcsoft Photo Impression 6

The E1486TW is equipped with an 8x optical Wide zoom lens. With a focal length of 5.1mm (Wide) to 40.8mm (Tele) it has a 35mm equivalent of 28mm to 224mm. When the camera is powered down, the lens will retract into the body of the camera and a shield closes over the lens to protect the glass.

Focal Length:

Normal Mode: 23.6 in. Wide – 39.4 in. Telephoto
Macro mode: 2.0 in. Wide – 39.4 in. Telephoto
The flash is located on the left side of the lens at the top of the camera. There are 6 flash options including: Auto, Red-Eye Reduction, Forced Flash, Red-Eye + Slow Synchro, Slow Synchro and off. The effective range for wide angle is 17 ft. and for Telephoto its 10 ft.
The controls located on the top of the camera include the power button, the playback button, the zoom control as well as the shutter release.
There are no buttons or switches on the back of the E1486TW, all functions are controlled through the use of the cameras touch screen. Pictured here you an see the cameras mode button in the upper left, the settings button in the lower left as well as several other touchable icons accross the bottom.

There are two external ports on the side of the camera. At the top is the HDMI port which can is used to connect the camera to high-definition devices. Below that is the USB/AV port. This is used to connect to a myriad of devices such as televisions, printers and computers.

The E1486TW is compatible with all SD and SDHC memory cards up to 16GB in size, while featuring 18MB of internal memory. It is shown here with a 8GB Lexar Professional SDHC memory card.

Power for the camera comes from a rechargeable Lithium Ion battery. The included charger plugs directly into an outlet with no need of any cords. GE claims approximately 160 shots can be taken on a fully charged battery.

Note: the GE E1486TW only outputs a slideshow when the A/V cable is plugged in, so we had to photograph the LCD for these screens captures.

Auto Record mode controls most of the camera’s functions for you.In the image above you can see the icons for shooting mode (upper left), settings and menus (lower left) and changing the amount of information displayed as well as activating a shooting grid (lower right). Also, any of the icons with a yellow arrow are functions that can be changed. This is done by “touching” them.

The green square in the middle shows the camera with the auto-focus locked and ready. If the camera does not focus correctly they will show up in red.

The camera does not have a FUNction button, quick access icons are displayed around the perimeter of the screen. To activate them just touch the icon and the menu for that particular function will be displayed.

The different Scene shooting modes can be found by pressing the mode button, then the SCENE button. There are 10 different scene modes: Sport, indoor, snow, fireworks, museum, night landscape, children, leaf, sunset, glass, landscape and night portrait.

Rec Shooting Menu Options (Manual):

Continuous Shot – Off, Unlimited, 3 Shots, 3 Shots Last, Time-Lapse
Quality – Best, Fine, Normal
AF Mode – Single, Multi, Touch-to-Focus
Expo Metering – Spot, Center, AiAE
Digital Zoom – On or Off
Quick Review – Off, 1 sec, 2 sec, 3 sec
Date Imprint – Off, Date, Date/Time
AF Assist Beam – On or Off
Blink Detection – On or Off
Slow Shutter – Off, 2-30 seconds
OIS- Mode1, Mode 2, Off

In playback mode, the last image taken is the first one that is displayed when you press the playback button. Just like in REC mode, the bottom right corner changes the amount of information that is shown on the screen. There are three different amounts of information that can be shown as well as a screen that shows just the image with no information.

Index mode allows you to quickly search through the images that you have captured. Pressing the wide zoom control brings up a screen of 4 thumbnails and pressing it again changes it to 9.

Pressing the zoom control towards the telephoto end allows you to zoom in on your images up to 8x. Once you have zoomed in, press and hold on the screen for 1 second and you will be able to drag the image around on the screen.

Playback Menu Options:

Protect – Protects an image from being deleted from the memory card
Delete – Removes an image from the memory card
DPOF – Sets the parameters for printing directly from the camera
Slideshow – Runs a slideshow of the images saved on the memory card

Movie playback gives you VCR or DVR-like controls that allow you to play, pause, return to beginning, and move frame by frame in either direction. While the video is playing, you can adjust the volume via the icon in the bottom right corner.

Camera Settings Options:

Format Memory – Formats the Memory card inside the camera
Beep – Adjust the levels of the beeps for Volume, Shutter, Self-Timer, Key, Power
LCD Brightness – Auto adjustment or Manual adjustment
Power Saver – Controls when the LCD screen and camera will automatically turn off
Date / Time – Sets the date and time on the camera
Zone – Allows you to choose the area of the world you are currently in, so the camera can automatically adjust the time

File Numbering – Reset or Continuous
Language – Choose the camera’s menu language
Video System – NTSC or PAL
Copy to Card – Copy images to the memory card from internal memory
Reset Settings – Resets the camera to the factory defaults
FW Version – Displays the camera’s current firmware version

USB Mode – PC, PC (PTP), Printer

HDMI Mode – Auto, Manual

GE’s top of the line “Power” series model (as of 6/2010), the E1486TW is a stylish point-n-shoot that is packed with cool features, like a 3.0-inch touchscreen LCD, 14-megapixels, an 8x optical zoom lens with wide 28mm coverage, optical image stabilization, face/blink/smile  detection, high ISO settings, HDMI output, Li-ion battery, etc. All of these are stuffed into a petite frame, which can be tucked into a small pocket.

Like past models, the E1486TW feels well built, with a good weight to it. Although small, the camera still fits well in our hands, and due to the touchscreen there are very few controls mounted on the body. All you will find are the power and playback buttons as well as the shutter release with the zoom controls mounted around it. Everything else is handled by touching the large 3.0-inch screen. The LCD seems to have an anti-reflective coating, as there are only a few angles in which is reflects strong light. I did find that it collects finger prints quite easily, so be sure to wipe it off often.

The touchscreen system itself worked Ok. It wasn’t the most responsive system I’ve used, but not the worst either. We especially found it difficult to use during playback mode, where the camera’s response to our touch was a bit slow. If you touched the screen to quickly, it would not respond. I was also disappointed with the playback zoom function. While you can zoom in quite easily by using a diagonal sweep with your finger or using the telephoto zoom control, once magnified you can not scroll around the frame. This function has been standard on digicams for years, and pretty much made the zoom function worthless on this camera as it only enlarges the center of the frame.   

Image quality from the E1486TW was average for a compact camera. It produces nice looking 14-megapixel photos outdoors that display good exposure and pleasing color balance. Images are also relatively sharp, however when viewing at 100% you can see a large amount of luminous noise present throughout the photo (much more easily seen in on dark objects or in shadow areas). This can cause photos to look a bit soft when critically viewing them, however it is unlikely to be seen in you small to mid-sized prints; larger ones on the other hand could possibly be affected. Image noise stays pretty consistent up to ISO 800, however after this setting images are pretty much unusable in my opinion. One small annoyance we found was that the date imprint function is set to On by default. I noticed this after I had taken all of our typical outdoor photos.

Indoors the E1486TW did well capturing close-up portraits, just be sure you are no more than about 6-7 feet away from your subject. The flash is tiny, like most all compact cameras, and will not be able to properly illuminate subjects beyond that range. The Face Detection system seemed to find faces within the frame rather quickly, which will help ensure that your family and friends faces will be nice and sharp.

Like most digicams on the market today, the E1486TW boasts a HD video recording option at 1280×720 (720p) resolution. You can also choose smaller standard definition options for 640×480 and 320×240. The frame rate is selectable from 15 or 30fps. Our video samples looked Ok for a sub $200 camera. Videos play back nice and smooth then using the 30fps quality setting, and the exposure system seems to do well. There is a good amount of compression noise, even outdoors. The lower the lighting, the worse this will get. One annoyance we found was that movie mode will not start recording unless focus is achieved. Therefore, if you just mash the shutter release to start recording a movie, it will not start. You have to wait for the slower AF system to lock focus first. Also Digital zoom is the only magnification option available while recording, the optical zoom is inoperative. As you can see from our movie sample, it’s degrades quality and causes the video to get choppy while you are zooming; it would be best to only use this option sparingly.

Battery life on this model is quite bad. Power is supplied by a small 3.7V, 700mAh Li-Ion rechargeable battery pack, which is charged in the included AC charger. While testing the camera, we were only able to capture about 100 photos and some other brief tests before it posted a low battery indicator. They claims you cna get about 160 photos, which might be possible on a single outing, but it pushing it. A second battery pack is pretty much a necessity with this camera, especially if you are planning on taking it with you on vacation.

Bottom Line – GE’s E1486TW is one of the cheapest touchscreen digicams on the market today. This model is loaded with high-end features at an affordable price tag of US$199 or less. However, you get what you pay for. While the camera captures decent photos and offers good burst mode options, it’s slower standard shooting performance, substandard touch system, and horrible battery life help reflect why it’s so much less than the competition. Therefore, we highly recommend you ponder on the features that mean most to you, and look at various models in the Sub $250 category. While you may not get a cool touchscreen, for $200 you can find a camera with superior performance and image quality.

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The Review Crew
The Review Crew is a group of beat editors, writers, and consultants that have been working together for years. They know just about everything about everything collectively and have published their collective work under the Review Crew brand moniker for almost 20 years.