DCRP Review: eyemodule digital camera for Handspring Visor
by Mana Tominaga and David MacCaslin, Special to the DCRP
Originally Posted: Saturday, December 2, 2000

Last Updated: Monday, December 4, 2000

eyemodule digital camera
For Handspring Visor handhelds
Supports Mac and Windows

Most of us carry around multiple electronic gadgets: MP3 player, phone, pager, PDA, digital camera. Handspring's Visor PDA offers various modules so you only need one main device, and plug in as you see fit. At least that's the plan. But, the digital camera module is available and reasonable. The eyemodule digital camera, designed by Palo Alto-based IDEO Product Development Inc. allows you to take snapshots on your Handspring handheld computer.

When I first bought my Handspring and eyemodule, color screens weren't an option on the Handspring. I could capture in color, but had to upload to my computer to view the images in color. I didn't have a good idea of how pictures would turn out; it wasn't a true camera but more of a curiosity. Now there's a new color Handspring called Handspring Prism, and I was curious how the eyemodule worked with it.

If you already have an eyemodule and want to try it on your new Prism: First, install the update from the eyemodule site. For the least cumbersome install, remove any existing eyemodule software, reinstall it, and then install the update. Also, make sure when you sync your PDA that the eyemodule unit is installed, or it won't work.

Before you start shooting away, make sure you have more than 20% of battery life left on the device to capture images. The eyemodule camera fits in the module slot at the top of your Handspring. It adds maybe 15mm to the overall length of the Handspring, and it's about 2.8 ounces. The positioning of the camera allows you to hold the Handspring in your palm, and point and shoot without holding anything up to your eyes. And, because you get the entire size of your Handspring screen as the preview and capture screen, the screen is larger than most digital cameras.

You can store more than 500 small black and white images, or more than 125 large black and white images, or more than 25 color images can be stored on a Visor Deluxe. Once you upload, the images are JPEG files. Your snapshots are automatically labeled with the date and time, and you can zoom, annotate, and categorize them, and view them in sequence as a slide show. And, you can zoom in on your saved photos by tapping the magnifying glass icon or tapping on the screen.

You can also beam the snapshots to other PalmOS users, but you have to first beam the eyemodule software to your lucky recipient. Beaming the software took about 10 seconds; it took about 35 seconds to transfer a 320 x 240 color image from one Visor to another.

However, you can't use the eyemodule as a color video monitor per se, because you have to save the photo first to even see it in color. This is probably to save on battery power; viewing saved images in color doesn't take up any more resources than any other operation.

And, this device ISN'T a replacement for a full-fledged camera. The lens is fixed focus, optimized for subjects 18" and further so you're limited to snapshots, really. The eyemodule takes snapshots, in three resolution formats: 160 x 120 black and white, 320 x 240 black and white, or 320 x 240 color. The vendor recommends that you shouldn't enlarge your photos more than about 3" x 4"; I recommend not enlarging at all if possible.

But, regardless of its limitations, it's a fun module. The eyemodule is definitely worth the price for the quick snapshots you can shoot on the go at a fraction of the size and weight of a normal digital camera.
Here are some pictures we took with the eyemodule in both Visor Prism and Deluxe.



Mana Tominaga is Associate Products Editor of Web Techniques magazine. She assigns product reviews and new product announcements. David MacCaslin is Lab Technician for Web Techniques magazine, and is responsible for testing Web related software and hardware.

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