Kodak's EasyShare Picture Viewer is unique; a genuinely thin, light and durable pocket-sized electronic photo album. But is it any more than the back end of a digital camera?
Kodak's EasyShare Picture Viewer is small, light and very pocketable
Best Prices: £83.71 & $76.66
When you see a Kodak EasyShare Picture Viewer for the first time, you can't help but instantly marvels at its size. Covering the area of a credit card and just over a centimetre thick, it houses a 2.5 inch colour LCD screen. To put some scale to it, it's thinner and shorter than most small mobile phones, if a little wider. You simply insert your SD or MMC card into a slot at the top of the unit, press the power button next to it and within seconds any photos stored on the card can be viewed, as if you were looking at the screen on the back of your camera.
A thumbnail view of the images being viewed on the Kodak EasyShare Picture Viewer
You can set the viewer to show each image one after another in an automatic slide show, or you can manually move on to the next when you are ready. Up to nine thumbnails can be displayed at a time and the whole thing can be plugged into a Kodak EasyShare printer dock so you can print selected images.
So let's just pause for breath there – you can slip it in your pocket and take it with you, just like a mobile phone and you can look at your favourite photos and of course show them to others and you can print. In fact there is a mini USB port so you can print via a cable to a PictBridge compatible printer. Sounds great, or does it? Like me, you might find yourself asking: "doesn't my camera do all that anyway?" Well, maybe – though there aren't mainstream high quality cameras this small and thin, yet.
And there are more question marks. For some strange reason you can't watch movie clips on the EasyShare Picture Viewer, even movie clips taken using Kodak cameras. Instead you get a mosaic of thumbnails taken from the movie. One also wonders if this could have been an MP3 player as well. The still image zoom function is limited to just 2x magnification. Most digital cameras will stretch to 4x, 8x and more.
Granted, SD cards are now dominant and you can also use standard MMC cards in the EasyShare Picture Viewer, but it won't be much use to Olympus and Fujifilm FinePix camera users that rely on xD cards, Sony users with Memory Sticks and others who use Compact Flash cards.
I genuinely like the little EasyShare Picture Viewer as a concept, as well as its form factor, but Kodak should really address the lack of movie clip playback and very limited zoom function. But apart from that, the screen is crisp and has good resolution of 201,000 pixels and picture viewing experience is not bad at all.
Conclusions and ratings
Image view quality
– Good size screen with plenty of pixels.
Ease of use
– Simple, easy to read menus.
– Marked down for lack of decent zoom function and movie clip playback.
– No creaking from the plastics and a nice pearlescent finish.
Value for money
– The official manufacturer guide price is way over the top, but look out for aggressive discounting.
– At DPNow we don't much rate stars and percentages because they mean one thing to one reviewer and something else to another, but as the industry demands such devices, we reluctantly provide them, based on our concept of the product's target market, the competition and how we got on with the product while testing it:
3.5 stars (out of 5)
Things we liked about the Kodak EasyShare Picture Viewer:
Small, slim and cute
Kodak Printer Dock and PictBridge compatible
Easy to use
Stylish leather-effect protective case
Things we didn't like:
No video clip playback
Viewing zoom limited to 2x
Only SD/MMC card compatible
The bottom line:
Kodak seems to doing a lot of innovating at the moment and I take my hat off to them for even thinking about doing something like the EasyShare Picture Viewer, let alone making it into a shipping product – there is nothing quite like it. It does fall into the category of things I'd fancy owning but probably wouldn't shell out for myself. But it would make a terrific, if pricey, gift.
On the following pages we look at the Kodak EasyShare Picture Viewer in pictures, with a look at the design, its on-screen menus and, finally, the product specifications.