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Lose that bulky photo wallet with Palm IIIc album
(IDG) -- You're probably enjoying your Palm IIIc's color-coded calculator and crisp active-matrix screen. But you paid $449 for that lovely display. What else can you get out of those 256 colors?
Quite a few utilities are available for the Palm OS, but Club Photo offers one specifically for the Palm IIIc: Color Album to Go. This free, downloadable program lets you display photos on your Palm and beam them to others. Color Album to Go has some interesting potential uses, such as allowing realtors to show snapshots of properties, but for the most part, it's just fun.
Color Album to Go helps you prepare graphics for viewing on the Palm IIIc by converting JPEG images to Palm's PRC format. The software then sends images you specify to your HotSync list. You simply plug your Palm into your PC, transfer the images, and start the slide show. You can choose from a number of transition effects, select which slides will be part of the show, and set the time that slides remain on the screen.
Fast and intuitive
I downloaded the 205KB (compressed) Color Album to Go program from the Club Photo site via a T1 connection, and then I synched my Palm IIIc to my Windows 98 test system (a Pentium III-550MHz). Installation was a piece of cake.
Club Photo's Living Album 99 software offers interactivity with the Palm as well. With this program (also free), you can create a photo album and download images directly to the Palm HotSync list. Living Album 99 took about a minute to download as a self-extracting, 5.7MB .exe file over a T1 connection. (Both Color Album to Go and Living Album 99 are compatible with Windows 95, 98, and NT.)
Living Album's simple interface lets you browse for graphics on your hard drive and add short captions and descriptions for each one you select (your online album can contain up to 108 images). The interface also features rudimentary editing controls for rotating, brightening or darkening, and deleting images. Once I completed my album, I selected a few images to send to the handheld by clicking the Palm icon at the lower left of the browser window. A quick, simple process--but unless the images in your Living Album are perfectly square, the software will automatically crop them to fit the Palm's 160-by-160 screen. Unfortunately, you don't get a preview of the cropped shot, and the software made some rather graceless choices, producing a few headless animals and weird patches of sky.
Using the Color Album to Go Desktop software produced somewhat better results in the cropping department. A preview window shows your JPEG image and lets you compare it to the PRC version, and scrollbars let you select which part of the photo will be shown on the Palm. Here you can also use sliders to adjust brightness and contrast. Still, you're better off using an image editor to size your graphics before importing them into Color Album to Go.
I transferred 13 images to the Palm IIIc and tried all of the transition effects: Line Up, Line Down, Mosaic, None, and Random (which cycles all four options). Mosaic and None were easiest on the eyes. The images showed some quality loss, appearing blotchy and pixelated in some areas.
Bake your photos
In addition to hosting online photo albums, Club Photo provides photofinishing services, from standard photo printing to personalized photo-novelty gifts. Unfortunately, I was unable to test my favorite, Photo Frosting, a slab of cake frosting printed with the photo of your choice. But novelties aside, Color Album to Go itself will likely be enough entertainment for you.
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