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Product: TV Photo Viewer
Company: Microsoft
Website: http://www.microsoft.com
Estimated Street Price: $159.00
Review By: Robert Stein

Design

Table Of Contents
1: Introduction
2: Setup
3: System Requirements

4: Design & Hardware Use
5. TV Photo Viewer Software
6: Troubleshooting
7: Conclusion

The device really can’t get any simpler (although there is not much to make complex about this device, since basically it is a rigged up floppy drive). The device (as you can see below) is about 6 inches by 4 inches and ways a tad over two pounds. The Microsoft TV Photo Viewer sports a black case with a silver metallic finished front. The front has five buttons: one power, one auto show, two navigation buttons, and eject button. They all light up neon green when in use. On the back (as I stated earlier) there are three plugs: power in, video in, video out. The device has four rubber stoppers on the bottom to keep it sliding off of your TV. The remote is also slim and light, also with five buttons: power, auto, rotate, back, and forward. Rotate lets you turn photos so they are right side up.

Hardware Use

Once the hardware is all set up and you know what everything does – it’s time to dive right on in using the tutorial diskette. Turn the TV Photo Viewer on, and you get the default screen saying “Please insert a floppy disk and press the forward button.” So we are going to do just that. After I press forward, a loading black screen pops up as the welcome screen prepares to show. Unlike a normal photo album you would make from the software, this album does not have the thumbnail screens load first but rather just full screen images. One downside for those impatient people is the loading time. Although you can start browsing while it’s loading – there is a lag. So it’s better if you just wait a minute or two until you hear the floppy stop working before you start to browse then you will have no lag.

Using your remote (or right from the device itself) you can use the arrows to start browsing the images. If you hold down the forward or backward button and you can “search” the images on the disk. In the lower right hand corner a small box will come up with the other images on the disk which you can browse. Once you stop browsing the image in the lower corner will be come the main one on the screen (replacing the one you began with which was still up on the screen). Another downfall I do not like is the fact that this search window is very small and it is hard to tell which picture is which if you are far away or cannot see well. If you do not use the software to create your pictures numbers will appear in the corner for the search function. Nonetheless, this feature gets the job done.

If you click rotate on your remote you will see the picture rotate around the screen. This is important for people who use cameras like Sony Mavica so you can properly view them. For pictures that are already right side up, rotate is pretty much useless. You can’t rotate a picture completely upside down, either. That’s it – see it’s not hard to operate this device at all. My espresso/cappuccino machine from Williams-Sonoma is 500x harder to use than this. It really is child’s play.

Comparison

One similar product to the Microsoft Photo Viewer is the Iomega Fotoshow. The two are the same price although one major difference is that the Iomega product uses ZIP disks (of course) and Microsoft’s uses 3 ½ in floppies. Also, the Iomega device connects to your computer whereas the Photo Viewer does not. The Fotoshow duals as a 250 MB ZIP drive, however obviously you cannot have it connected to your computer and TV at the same time (especially if they are in two different locations) so you will have to move the device to show your presentations on the TV. So if you don’t want to move it, it’d work best if you already have a ZIP drive along with the Fotoshow. You can also edit pictures on the TV with the Fotoshow and you cannot do that with the Photo Viewer. The Photo Viewer has the convenience of floppies and not ever connecting it to the computer. The products do basically the same thing, though. If you prefer ZIP disks you might be swayed to purchase the Iomega Fotoshow, but if you don’t want to connect it to your computer and like the easiness of floppies (like me) you’ll choose the Photo Viewer.

 

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