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Digital Slide Shows on Your Palm

by Derrick Story
09/08/2000

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Digital Slide Shows on Your Palm

The new multimedia PocketPCs are terrific if you have money to burn and don't mind living within a Windows-only box. Neither applies to me.

Palms, on the other hand, have powerful PIM applications; can be synced with Mac, Linux, and Windows platforms; and are available for as little as $149.

But if digital pictures (maybe from your new digital camera?) are part of the information that you want to carry with you, do you have to chuck your Visor in the trash and shell out $500 for a Casio EM 500, HP Jornada 545, or Compaq iPaq 3650?

Not necessarily.

There's a nifty Palm application that allows you to easily port your digital images to your trusty PDA. You can add metadata to the pictures (providing searchable captions), then you can beam the images to other Palm users. And best of all, you can start using it today without spending a penny.

AlbumToGo puts JPEGs in your Palm (and it's free too)

When I discovered AlbumToGo, I was expecting to see one of those $19.95 price tags that we usually encounter with sophisticated Palm applications. After all, this isn't just another checklist program. AlbumToGo allows me to view JPEGs on my Palm device, attach notes to those images, display them individually or in a slide show with selectable transitions, beam pictures to other Palm users, and sync with both Macs and PCs. That's quite an array of features for absolutely no cost.

As an editorial aside, this application represents one of the good things about the Palm platform -- there's a broad developer base creating innovative applications and making them available at reasonable prices ... sometimes for no cost at all. I really enjoy discovering these gems, and I admire the folks who create them.

AlbumToGo is a good example of this type of innovation. There's a color version for the Palm IIIc and gray-scale downloads for the monochrome Palms. Here's a complete list of compatible devices:

  • Palm Professional, III, IIIx, IIIe, IIIxe, IIIc, V, Vx, and VII.
  • Handspring Visor and Visor Deluxe.
  • IBM Workpad and Workpad c3
  • Qualcomm PdQ Phone
  • TRG TRGpro

The download includes the "AlbumToGo.prc" file (52k), the "AlbumToGo" desktop companion application (580k), and a few sample images (16k each). You simply upload the .prc file via HotSync to your Palm, then launch the desktop application on your host computer. Now you're ready to prepare your first picture for PDA display.

Picture prep is a snap

On your desktop computer, drag a JPEG and drop it on the AlbumToGo application. You can use a photo from a digital camera or a scan -- it doesn't matter. AlbumToGo launches and converts your picture to a 16-level gray-scale image and displays it in the preview window.

The AlbumToGo desktop application.

The AlbumToGo desktop application provides cropping, brightness, and contrast controls. It cleverly converts your JPEGs to .prc files for display on your Palm device.

You can, if you want, preview images with just 4 levels of gray to see how they'll look on Palms with the older Dragon CPU. Personally, I think they look terrible in comparison to the much smoother, sharper 16 levels that you get with most of the current monochrome displays. Once you have the image displayed in the preview window (which represents the same proportions as a Palm screen), you can position it using the vertical and horizontal scroll bars. This is how you crop the picture. You can also adjust the brightness and contrast.

Now your picture is ready for uploading. Hit the Save button and AlbumToGo creates a .prc file that you can add to your Palm with the next HotSync.

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