Wednesday, May 07, 2008

Tiny digital picture frame

I picked up a Coby DP-151 "keychain" digital picture frame. As there's no cover, expect the keychain to scratch it up. I removed it, which can be done non-destructively. I can just imagine what keys would do to it. Or the inside of a purse. They come in more than one color - mine is blue.

It has a 128x128 pixel display (16 kilopixels - 1/64 megapixels). That's not alot. It's got an internal battery, and it is charged up when you plug it into USB. When you plug it in, it asks you if you want to charge the battery, or upload photos to it. When you charge it, it displays the charge state of the battery in the lower left. It also displays whatever you have it display during charge. It has a clock, and you can optionally have it display in the lower right corner. In slide show mode, it has a bunch of different fades from one image to the next.

It can have up to 60 pictures on it. It displays the picture number in red as 17/29 in the upper right corner. That means number 17 of 29 total images. You can't turn this feature off. The pictures you upload to it are exactly 128x128. You can't have a larger image. There's no pan and zoom. You must use the supplied software to upload pictures to it. It supports Windows and Mac OS. The device does not mount as a generic USB drive, so Linux users are SOL. Of course, a Linux box can be used as a charger. I don't run Wine, so i haven't tested to see if the supplied software can be made to work or not. For me, this is a deal breaker. I only run Linux at home. But for others, it's also less than optimal. It means you have to install software if you want to upload. That means you're less likely to want to upload any images while visiting a friend, for example. The upload software comes on one of those mini CDs. I'd never used one before. But there was no problem loading it.

You must plug the unit into USB before you launch the photo upload software. If it doesn't find it, it complains and exits. You can browse images that are on your hard disk. If your image is square, it scales it to 128x128 for upload. If it isn't, it scales the short dimension to 128 and grabs a center square. But you can slide a square selection tool over the image. However, i ran into a bug where you couldn't select one end of the rectangle, and though you got a square image, you didn't quite get the bit of it that you wanted. It shows that you can get one side, but it doesn't actually give it to you. This is under Windows. You also can't select a smaller square from the middle of the image - like just someone's face. You could do that in some other application, save a square image, and get what you want. The 128x128 image area is quite limited, and it's highly likely that you'll want to do something like that for many images.

The physical shape has another limitation. Let's say you want to set up a slide show. Change the picture every 60 seconds (it's settable in 5 second increments from 5 to 60). Put the thing on your desk, so it loops through all 60 of your images in an hour. Pretty cool, right? Except that you can't stand it on your desk. The rounded edges prevent this. Perhaps you could mount it on some Silly Putty or something. Or, you can make a stand by folding some stiff cardboard in half and cutting out a diagonal rest. Be creative.

There are two tiny screws on the back, but it seems likely that the rechargable battery inside is not replacable. Think of the whole thing as disposable. Mine was $20, delivered.

Little tiny pictures. What would you use it for? You might put a few family photo album like things on it. Show off your baby pictures or something. Don't have a baby? You were likely a baby at one time... show those off. Probably the last time you were cute when naked. The device is really, really portable. Small enough to get lost in a shirt pocket.

One might ask, since i only run Linux, why would i buy such a thing? It's a gift. I'm pretty sure the recipient doesn't read my blogs. I still get the odd comment, so i guess at least some people still read it.


Stephen said...

Did a battery test on it. Put it into slide show with 1 minute between images. On a full charge, it lasted three and a half hours. That's long enough to see 60 tiny pictures, right?

snow said...

i can't get this dumb thing of mine to work!! Grrr

Stephen said...

You're running Windows and have loaded the CD with the software? You have to use their software. It doesn't just mount like a thumb drive.