PhotoSuite Mobile Edition for PalmOS

Reviewed by: Howard Carson, send e-mail
Published by: Roxio, go to the web site
Requires: PalmOS v3.x or higher on color or grayscale Palm, Handspring or HandEra PDA; Desktop - Windows 98/98SE, ME, Windows 2000 Professional, Mac OS8.x or higher
MSRP: $29.95

You have little photos, bent and dog-eared, stuffed into your wallet. Ha!! You are not 'with it'. But if you own a PalmOS PDA, you can carry around a digital photo album or video. All it takes is PhotoSuite Mobile Edition a few extra MB of memory in your PDA.

MGI Software Corp has taken a natural step with digital photo and video, adding a PalmOS version to its award winning PhotoSuite and VideoWave desktop software family. The mobile edition is a utility-sized organizer and viewer. There are two components: the desktop program which allows you to select, crop, rotate, adjust and automatically convert digital photos and videos into PalmOS format, and the PDA program which allows you to view files, zoom in & out (if the image is large enough), pan, add notes, rename files, display thumbnails and display a photo slide show.

We tested PhotoSuite Mobile Edition on three PDAs: a Handspring Visor Prism (16-bit color), a Palm M505 (16-bit color), and a Palm IIIe (4 grayscale). We could not get a Palm IIIc (256 colors) for this review. We installed the desktop software on a Pentium III/500 running Windows 98SE and Windows 2000 Professional. Installation was flawless on the desktop and the PDAs under both versions of Windows. We did not test anything under MacOS.

All file transfers to your PDA take place via HotSync. Launch the PhotoSuite Mobile Edition desktop software, choose some photos or a Windows video file, select a color level and everything will be automatically converted to a PalmOS format, leaving the original files intact. Perform a HotSync and the files will be transferred to the PDA. The more you transfer, the longer it will take and more precious PDA memory will be used. A USB (as opposed to a serial) HotSync cradle is highly recommended to reduce file transfer times. Original files in high native resolutions, i.e.: anything greater than 640 x 480 x 72dpi for photos or 320x240 for video, will still result in relatively large files after conversion. The best thing to do is reduce the image size (width & height) and resolution in PhotoSuite, PhotoShop, PhotoPaint, PaintShop Pro or some other image editor. Use PhotoSuite Mobile Edition to do the final conversion to the correct color level and PalmOS format. VideoWave can be used to reduce the size of video files to 160x120.

No matter how you approach file resizing and image conversion, keep in mind that you've only got a 160x160 pixel PDA display to work with. Most fine detail will always be lost.

Cons: PalmOS does not display enough gray shades. Full color photos dithered to grayscale were almost unrecognizable in the 2, 4, and 16 levels of gray available in PalmOS. At thirty bucks the software is too expensive, even considering the highly respected PhotoSuite name. No warnings about large file sizes; available memory can be used up real fast. Poor compatibility with Springboard 8MB flash module (partly a PalmOS problem). Video on PalmOS is a bit of a curiosity for now because the OS and processor are being pushed to their practical limits. There a couple of PDAs out there - the Sony Clie and the HandEra come to mind - which provide almost double the Palm and Handspring resolution. Unfortunately, PhotoSuite Mobile Edition does not work with those PDAs yet. Come on MGI, you're in the digital imaging business. Get compatible with higher resolution PDAs.

Pros: PhotoSuite's image converters seem a tad better than the competition (including Dream House Software's excellent Pocket Photo v2.6). Color images converted to 16-bit for the Visor Prism or Palm M505 look best. PhotoSuite's slide show, zoom and pan functions work quite well. Some misgivings about the price but Recommended nonetheless.

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