Does your camera have a TV connection anyway?
But is this as easy as it sounds? Cost cutting with some camera models means that TV ports are no longer to be taken for granted and. In any case, you need to remember where to find your camera's TV cable and what about the camera's batteries - are they charged up for a slide show session? So why not use a dedicated digital photo TV player?
An on-screen thumbnail navigation interface guides the user.
In practice, TV photo players have suffered from one key drawback, slow and cumbersome operation. This is because photo image sizes are large, typically a megabyte or more and they are getting larger as camera resolutions rise relentlessly. It takes time to load each image, so with a conventional TV photo player the process of moving from one image to the next can be very tiresome as you wait for each image to load up.
TV player drawback cleverly solved
SanDisk's designers have come up with an ingenious solution to this problem and it also makes your photos more accessible. TV screens are relatively low resolution devices, so it's possible to reduce the resolution and increase the data compression of digital photos, making the file sizes smaller and much faster to load, without affecting the displayed quality on-screen.
A second Compact Flash slot at the rear serves as a
semi-permanent archive for TV-quality versions of your photos.
By using a second Compact Flash card slot on the rear of the SanDisk Photo Album, you have the option of archiving slimmed down copies of your photos to a CF card that can be left semi-permanently slotted into the Photo Album. In our experience, images can be reduced to around 60K in size, enabling a modest 128MB card to store over 2,000 TV-ready images.
With such slimmed-down copies of your originals stored, browsing from one picture to another becomes a breeze, with no long pauses as pictures load. Unfortunately, SanDisk has overlooked the remaining tedium of having to individually select large numbers of photos, then convert and store them, as there is no batch capability.
Besides TV display quality (640x480 pixels), there is a higher resolution 6x4 inch print resolution option. This results in image files twice as big as TV ones and they don't display on-screen full-size. However, these, or your original full-resolution camera images, can be marked for printing using on-screen options, though you can't actually connect a printer to the SanDisk Photo Album, instead you must take the memory card to a store for printing or use a printer or printing program on your PC that understands DPOF (Digital Print Order Format). With DPOF, images marked for printing will be recognised and processed by compatible hardware or software.
A purposeful infra red remote control is supplied as standard.
Create a slide show and with music too
Besides showing pictures manually one at a time, you can also start a slide show. This automatically displays each image stored in an album or folder, with some slick fade/wipe effects introducing the next photo. Fade and wipe transitions can be randomly featured or pre-selected. You can also set music to your slide show by storing an MP3 audio file in the same card or folder album as your photos.The SanDisk Photo Album also functions as an MP3 audio player without photos.
Movie clip playback needs improving
Movie clips in selected formats can also be played using the SanDisk Photo Album. Motion JPEG and MPEG1 formats are understood, in either .MOV or .AVI files, though the up and coming MPEG4 format is not supported. There is room for improvement here as we found that high frame rate movies were not played back smoothly, while some suffered from degraded audio quality or no audio at all.
AC power-in, AV and USB ports for connection to a PC and to an
USB-connected external storage drive are provided. TV display mode is
also switchable between PAL and NTSC.
Other notable features
Other features worth noting are some grouping options that can sort your files by month and year, etc., the unit also doubles as an 8-in-1 memory card reader, though PC connectivity is only via the slow USB 1.1 standard instead of high-speed USB. TV display can be switched between the American NTSC standard and European PAL mode, but the supplied AC adapter is not an internationally universal type.
Connection to a TV or other video device is via RCA phono stereo audio and compositve video connectors, which many TVs feature for connection with camcorders. S-Video is not supported. A good-sized infra red remote control is included. We tested JPEG files as large as 12 megapixels and encountered no display problems.
A USB port for connecting an external USB storage device, like a USB pen/key drive, is also provided and this worked fine with an external USB hard drive as well.
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