Review: Veo CF Camera Card for Pocket PC

by Reads (8,702)

The Veo camera card is a standard CompactFlash Type 2 card, compatible with PocketPC 2000 and 2002 handhelds equipped with the proper slot, including the Toshiba, sleeved iPaq, and Axim lines. Sorry, Jornada 560 series owners, but with only a CF Type 1 slot, the Veo won’t work for you. Included in the blister pack is the Veo itself, installation CD and manual, and a carrying case. An SDIO version is also available for Palm OS.

I had a heck of a time figuring out how to put in the camera card. I expected to put it in the Axim with the lens facing out from the back, the natural way for a camera attachment, but the markings on the card interface indicated the exact opposite. It turns out that the lens by default points in toward the user. It’s not a 180 degree swivel lens, either. The Veo, via a diagonal twist mechanism, supports only two orientations–pointing out from the front, toward the

user, or up, a few degrees back from the plane of the CF slot. This turned out to be a bit of a pain, since to take a picture of something in front of me, I would have to hold my Axim nearly flat, then lean over it to get a look at the screen. If you’re using it in sunlight, this will likely put your shadow on the screen, making it almost impossible to see. I ended up holding the Axim sideways, which wasn’t an ideal solution, but it did allow me to see the screen so I could focus.

Sample photo with Veo camera

The focus is a typical, cheap plastic dial type, best suited for distances of 3 to 10 feet. At longer distances, while you can still focus the camera, the resulting picture tends to end up sharp in the center and blurry towards the edges. Overall, though, the Veo did take significantly sharper pictures, when properly adjusted, than other low-res integrated and expansion cameras. The quality is roughly comparable to a 35mm still scanned in at 640 x 480. The catch is that the focus knob is very hard to turn without getting your fingers in the shot, meaning you have to turn the knob then check the focus. Available settings allow you to set a timer, select the resolution for still pictures (640×480, 320×240, and 160×120), change the white balance (Auto, Fluorescent, Incandescent, and Outdoor) or record video, with or without audio, at either 320 x 240 or 160 x 120. You can also change the directory used to store photos and video to any folder on the device, including memory cards. While the photos are standard JPEG format images, the video uses a format specific to the Veo, so you’ll need to install the Veo software on any PC you want to use to play back the video. Actual video performance is decent, but the picture tends to change color as you move the frame and the camera compensates, creating a ‘flashing neon’ effect.

The carrying case included with the Veo is a plastic hard-shell type for holding the card when not in use. Very cool looking, but also very fragile. After opening it a few times, the lower portion of the hinge broke off the piece of plastic it was embedded in. While it still looked nice, being broken significantly damaged both the cool factor, and the usefulness of the case–with the increased stress on the top hinge, it would only be a matter of time until it failed as well, resulting in the carrying case seperating into halves. Not good. I can’t really say much about the included software, since the Veo Creative Studio package failed to run on my PC. It responded with a ‘linked to missing export’ error, even after being reinstalled. Oh well; in my experience, bundled software is rarely useful for more than basic functions, and most people use software of their choice for what they need to do. Your mileage may vary, of course.

Sample photo #2!

The Veo Photo Traveller is a solid camera, even though it has some design flaws. I’d love to see what Veo can do given another technological iteration. (Hint, Ladies and Gents: a real swivel and auto-focus.) In the mean time, if you really want a camera on your mobile computer, the Veo is a workable solution.

Pros:

Good construction of the camera

Reasonable quality

Records video

Cons:

Poor aiming options

Difficult focus knob

Poor construction of the carrying case

Bottom line:

In terms of quality, the Veo Photo Traveller is one of the better camera attachments, and it’s available in both Palm and PocketPC flavors. I just wish they had used a standard 180 degree swivel and an easier focus knob.

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