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The view finder is the little window on the top left of the camera. If you want to use the display as a view finder, you have to press the button with the camera logo. It is called the life view mode. you use the same button to switch off the display. Be aware using the display, will drain the batteries quicker. Somewhat faster then with modern cameras.
see page 19 of the manual.
If you are using the batteries that came with the camera or just regular or Lithium batteries, this could be your problem.
At Walmart or any discount store, buy 2 NiMH rechargeable batteries with the charger. Believe me, years ago when I bought my first digital camera, the same thing happened to me. I was only getting a few pictures and the batts went dead, especially if I was using the LCD screen and not the view finder, or using the zoom which both of them take alot of power.
NiMH batteries are made to last using when using digital hardware.
Hope this works for you!!!!
HP wont get your money for another camera period- the have dropped cameras from their line up- in the UK any way. The precise reason for the non function of the flash is not immediately fathomable - but it is likely non use ,the capacitor that triggers the flash in a full state and not having been discharged could have 'killed' it. As with pretty well all low end digital camera s'repair' is not an option, only replace. So off you go and buy a new one- if it is flash you need- but perhaps you can live without it. So often you see folk using their camera swith the flash popping off when in fact non was needed.
Sounds like this camera will need inspection and repair by HP. Since it was expensive, it might be worth doing, so I would send it directly to HP (find out where and how at their website). Pack it in several layers of bubble wrap, not packing peanuts! HP should offer you an estimate for cost of repair, or possibly a trade-in. Good luck.