Operation and controls

The P-2000's external controls are fairly minimal (most of the advanced stuff is done via on-screen icons and menus), but we found it fast and intuitive to use. All the controls (save for the power switch) are arranged in a vertical line down the right hand side of that gorgeous screen. Uppermost is the Print button - press this and you can print one or more images using a compatible printer attached to the USB port. Next down is the Menu button, which brings up a contextual on-screen pop-up menu. The large OK button is also used to magnify on-screen images and is surrounded by a circular four-way switch used to navigate menus and icons, and to move around magnified images. Next down is a smaller 'Cancel' button. The last two buttons are Display (used to change the amount of shooting information shown on-screen when viewing images and to cancel some menus) and 'Home' (which takes you directly to the home screen).

Display and menus

The P-2000 runs a proprietary operating system that is very user-friendly, fairly fast, and relatively sophisticated - certainly when compared with most of its competitors. It's very nicely designed, taking full advantage of the high resolution screen, and can be mastered in about half an hour without even opening the manual. Inevitably there are areas that could be improved - the album system is slightly clunky and the lack of a list view is unfortunate (especially when playing music files), but it's the slickest - and most mature - system we've seen to date.

When you first power up the P-2000 you are greeted with this rather natty startup screen during the short boot process. The 'Home' screen consists of eight icons (selected using the four-way controller). From top left the icons represent Card Data (stuff you've copied from memory cards), Albums, Memory Card, Album shortcuts (for your three favorite albums), Latest Data (the most recently transferred files) and Settings.
Copying images from your memory card couldn't be easier. Once you've popped the card into one of the slots, highlight the Memory Card icon on the home screen and press OK. The default option is to copy the data from the card (into the Card Data directory). You can also copy the files into an album once they've been transferred (as we're doing here) or simply browse the card to copy or delete images individually. If you do choose to create an album after copying you'll be prompted to give it a name using the on-screen keyboard. Note that creating albums means you end up with two copies of each image; one in the Card Data directory and one in the new album. Images copied to the new album (or to any album for that matter) are renamed.
Press OK and the copying process begins. You'll be warned if there's not enough battery power to safely copy all the pictures from the card. A progress bar appears during the copying process. When it has finished copying you simply press OK and remove the card. There is an option to delete images from the card once you've copied them, but since I format the card in-camera each time I use it I left this setting turned off.
Images copied from cards are placed in separate folders (sorted by card) in the Saved Data directory. You can change this display to show the images in folders by date, as opposed to by individual card. If you chose to create an album at the time of copying you'll find it in the 'Albums' directory. Note that this album contains copies of the images placed in 'Saved Data' - but they are renamed as they are saved.
Highlighting an album and pressing MENU brings up this 'pop up' menu of options. Here you can rename albums, create shortcuts for the home screen, start slideshows, copy, protect and delete albums. Highlight any album (or folder in Saved Data) and press OK to see a page of 12 (4x3) thumbnails. Unlike the thumbnails on a camera screen, these are high enough resolution to make out plenty of detail. You can opt to see generic thumbnails for unsupported file types or to hide them.
Highlight any thumbnail and press OK to see the image displayed in all its glory full screen. The left and right arrows are used to scroll through images. The Display button allows you to view an overlay with fairly comprehensive EXIF data, although in common with most devices it fails to pick up camera-specific data, meaning you can't see the ISO setting on Canon cameras (for reasons best known to itself, Canon uses a custom field for ISO).
Pressing the OK/zoom button lets you enlarge the image in seven steps. Only JPEG files can be magnified - raw files are restricted to full screen view. Select any image in thumbnail view and press menu for a variety of options including copying, locking, deleting, print ordering and rotation. Again, rotation is only for JPEGs.
Movies in various formats can be played back, with audio - and they look fantastic on-screen. Support is limited to AVI (MPEG4 or M-JPEG), MOV, MP4 and ASF - if you have movies saved in WMV, MPEG1/2 or DVD-Video you'll need to re-encode them on your PC before transfer. In any case the maximum video size is 1GB. MP3s and AAC music files can also be copied to the P-2000 and played (either using the built-in speakers or via optional stereo headphones). There's nothing to allow managing playlists, filenames are truncated and you don't always get the track title on AAC files, so it's hardly a replacement for an iPod. but they don't sound too bad.
The settings screen has a single page containing 10 icons covering basic stuff like LCD brightness, audio and video settings, date and time etc, plus a couple of options (whether cards are formatted after copying, slideshow options). Slideshow options include five transitions (some of which are really nice), background music (including any MP3s stored on the P-2000) and slide duration.