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JpegWatch
By Edward Green
2/05/2002


Overview
JpegWatch is a Image viewer that will read industry standard Jpeg files straight from a VFS memory card.

Another Picture Viewer?
There is no shortage of image viewers available for Palm OS handhelds; many devices include an image viewer out of the box. However the majority of viewers require the user to convert their original image into a application specific format, offering low compression and no compatibility with viewers on colleges or friends handhelds, let alone other devices. In the world of desktop computers their are a smaller number of image formats readable by a range of applications, Jpeg being the compressed format commonly used for Photographs. With JpegWatch this universal format is accessible directly from a Palm OS device. JpegWatch supports VFS devices from Palm and Sony as well as Handspring devices using MemPlug springboards.

Installing and Managing Images
JpegWatch comes with a desktop application which will convert a wider range of image formats into Jpeg and modify them to suit your device, handling whole batches of files in one operation. It is very easy to select the contents of an entire directory and re-size all the images to 320x320 or 160x160.
Installing the Jpegs onto your handhel's memory card is pretty straight forward. You can either use Palm Desktop 4.0's Install tool, which will automatically create an Image directory on your memory card, or on the Clie you can simply use MS Import and drag the files into a folder of your choice. JpegWatch doesn't mind where you place the images, as it has a full file explorer, although helpfully you can set a default directory.
Once installed JpegWatch allows images to be viewed, deleted and for notes to be attached. These are saved in a separate .txt file with the same name as the image. Image details saved by EXIF (Exchangeable Image File Format) Digital Cameras are also available, providing data on the source camera, flash usage, focal length and much more. Sharing images with other JpegWatch users is also straightforward, even if they use a different card format as images can be beamed and received between handhelds.

Image Size
A 16 bit 320x320 image in a Palm format will normally take up about 190k on a memory card. The same file as a Jpeg will typically take up under 50k. There is however a small trade off, in that JpegWatch takes a little time to decompress and display the image For a 320x320 image that time is only a couple of seconds, however a 1600x1200 image from a digital camera can take ten times that to process. Neatly JpegWatch supports the EXIF thumbnails which many digital cameras encode into the images they produce, which means you can flick through a set of images without having to decode the Jpegs. JpegWatch doesn't provide a multiple thumbnail gallery like many other image viewers, but this would probably be slow due to the decompression required.

Image Quality
Image quality at 320x320 in 16 bit color is superb, but image quality on low resolution devices is good as well. JpegWatch supports both 16 bit color and dithered 4 bit gray devices; it doesn't support 8bit color on the Sony n710c. Once the image is loaded you can scale the image from twice to one eighth scale, and if the image is larger than the physical screen you can pan by dragging the stylus across the screen. Unfortunately JpegWatch then has to redecode the whole screen area, rather than smoothly scrolling the whole image as other viewers offer.
JpegWatch does offer full RGB brightness control, allowing you to lighten dark images, or compensate for a displays colour shift. This setting is universal and effects all images rather than the adjustments being attached to a certain image.
The images can be set to display as a slide show, although the decompression time of larger images isn't ideal for this purpose. JpegWatch can also be controlled remotely by the N7x0's series audio controller, ideal for presentations.

Conclusion
As an Image Viewer JpegWatch lags behind other products in terms of bells and whistles, however many of these shortcomings are due to the use of the Jpeg image format. Here JpegWatch comes into its own. For those users who are always running out of memory JpegWatch allows you to store as many as ten times the number of images in the same space. Images can be transferred directly via a memory card reader from and to other devices without conversion, making it an ideal solution for Digital Photographers.
For those users who want a picture of their significant other, the kids and the dog one of other the image viewers may be a better bet. Personally I could never go back to using PDB based image viewers. JpegWatch is a professional and powerful solution.

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AcidImage..

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/5/2002 8:54:24 AM #
I think it is better than JPEGwatch

RE: AcidImage..
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/5/2002 9:11:04 AM #
Yeah?

Where is EXIF? EXIF Thumbnail for quick browsing? Color adjustment? Annotation?

And good luck when viewing a 2048x1536 (3.3Mega Pixel) image using AcidImage, as it runs out of memory quite easily.

:)



RE: AcidImage..
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/5/2002 11:36:10 AM #
Yeah well at least you don't have to keep waiting for the program to re-decode the picture when you pan, that's annoying as heck.

RE: AcidImage..
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/5/2002 1:05:49 PM #
Tried both me prefer AcidImage.

RE: AcidImage..
Edward @ 2/5/2002 1:06:06 PM #
I am happy to say that I wrote this review before Acid Image came out. It too is a great application, but does lack the EXIF support and even with 2Mb free cant display large images from a Digital Camera at a native size.

I would rate them both similarly, although they have different feature sets.


JPGview

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/5/2002 10:00:29 AM #
Cheaper (without the current discount), supports the HandEra 330's hi-res, allows you to copy images from an expansion card to an internal Palm database, and in general is a much more mature app.
http://www.claus-fenske.de/palm/

RE: JPGview
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/5/2002 10:27:17 AM #
Agreed... it works very well. Can't comment on its color abilities, as I have a HandEra as well. I like its support for hi-res and MMC/SD and CF slots. Its nice to take a CF card from my Epson digital camera, pop it in the HandEra and review the pics.

Anyone else using it in a Sony (color and MS support)... care to comment?

RE: JPGview
Edward @ 2/5/2002 1:14:14 PM #
Another great application, but again it requires lots of free Ram to view larger files.

Why is a jpeg viewer "news"?

donpdonp @ 2/5/2002 12:23:14 PM #
The text of this announcement is trying to get me excited about a jpeg image viewer. It starts by saying there are a lot of image viewers, then it implies jpegwatch is the only native jpeg image viewer. That may be, but why does the palmos community get excited about something as mundane as a native jpeg image viewer? and who is going to pay $10 let alone $20 for this?

It feels like the PalmOS community is where the PC community was in the BBS days. I remember my first image viewer for the Tandy Radio Shack Color Computer 3. I thought it was cool. Maybe this is normal given the state of the hardware. I'm not a PPC user but I'll bet Pocket PC has come with an image viewer from the start and it can probably handle 4 or 5 "desktop-native" formats.

RE: Why is a jpeg viewer
rldunn @ 2/5/2002 12:54:21 PM #
It's not news; it's a review.

RE: Why is a jpeg viewer
popko @ 2/5/2002 5:20:54 PM #
heh heh ... looks like donpdonp is gona get flamed very soon ;p

RE: Why is a jpeg viewer
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/6/2002 12:16:51 AM #
I'm guessing that Donpdonp doesn't do much digital photography. If he did, then he would know that all image viewers are not created equal. Any why is it that people assume that because something isn't of interest to them that it shouldn't be of interest to others? I, for one, always enjoy reading about imaging products for the Palm and will be happy to pay for this software.

Need in-depth 3-way comparison

I.M. Anonymous @ 2/5/2002 3:48:43 PM #
What we _really_ need is an in-depth 3-way comparison of JpegWatch, AcidViewer, and JPGView.

Ed? Anybody?


RE: Need in-depth 3-way comparison
Edward @ 2/6/2002 8:22:04 AM #
I think it is a case of trying them for yourself!

I like JpegWatch because I can use 1600x1200 Jpegs straight from my Digi Cam. I would like to be able to pan as JpegView and AcidImage do, but understand that the reason they can Pan is that they decompress the image into device Ram.



RE: Need in-depth 3-way comparison
I.M. Anonymous @ 2/7/2002 1:17:54 PM #
So nobody should ever review any shareware/freeware products for any platform, and nobody should ever read such reviews, because you can always "try them for yourself"?


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