Dueling Reviews of SplashPhoto from SplashData – Palm and Pocket PC Versions

by Reads (8,618)

So many software packages are now being made in both Pocket PC and Palm versions. This poses a unique problem for us, as sometimes an application is great on one platform but not the other. Well this time we’ve got you covered, take a look at SplashPhoto from two angles.

In the Pocket PC corner we have Michael Harrison, weighing in with an up-side-down look at the software. And in the Palm OS corner we have Mark Stephenson, who’s from the UK, which naturally makes him up-side-down, or reversed or something of that nature. And on to the reviews…

SplashPhoto for Pocket PC

The End

An upside down review.  This review started out in the traditional manner; installation, features, conclusion, pros and cons and it s all there if you want to go on and read it.  Which is why this is an upside down review.  Here s the bottom line: this is an excellent Pocket PC application.  If you have any interest in digital photography at all, as either a personal pastime or a business tool then SplashData on your Pocket PC is recommended for fun, work or both.  Interested?  Now read on.


Installation of SplashPhoto is straightforward and glitch free.  Like most of the software I install I chose to locate it, and its database of images, on a Secure Digital card.  You can of course choose the default location and when adding subsequent images with the desktop interface that transfers images to the PDA, you have the option to choose between My DocumentsSplashPhoto folders in regular memory, or if you exercised the alternate install location option, Storage CardMy DocumentsSplashPhoto.

Desktop interface

To transfer images from the desktop to the PDA it s necessary to use the SplashPhoto desktop interface.  En route to the PDA the images get converted and essentially reduced by up to 95%.  The desktop interface is simple to use and allows selective editing by use of a zoom and cropping tool and some adjustment of contrast and brightness.  It also has rotation from vertical to horizontal capability.  As part of the conversion you can also name the image, identify its category, and add some notes which will be stored along with the picture.  It s a straightforward, easy to master application and you can use it to add multiple images in one session.  As may be expected the transfer is a little slow, but it steadily does what it s supposed to without any care and attention. If you do all of your more exotic digital image manipulation, such as red eye removal or color adjustment, ahead of time with whatever tools you use, the images converted and transferred will be at their best.

Picture 1- Desktop Interface

Just a side note here, so you can benefit from my folly.  One dark, rainy day I was inspired to simply drag images from the desktop to my PDA, thinking they d work fine, after all a picture is a picture, right?  Wrong.  They need to be processed through the desktop interface.  In retrospect, like so many things, it makes sense as the images gain the category and notation attributes on the way as well as that significant reduction in size.

PDA Picture Quality

On the subject of file size versus quality, one recurring comment from all of the victims I subjected to viewing my various pictures, was on how good the images looked on the PDA.  Some of that can of course be attributed to the iPAQ s excellent screen, but if a 95% reduction in size seems disconcerting don t worry about it.  The resulting images are in fact excellent, and contain enough resolution and detail to satisfactorily display the picture.  Not a lot of point in examining them with a magnifying glass, but that s not the intent, and therein is an excellent question.

Picture 2 the iPAQ glows

The point is?

What is the point?  Before we even get into the PDA interface, why bother collecting and categorizing pictures on your PDA?  The answers range from the personal to the practical.

For starters, if you travel for business, it can be nice to take along a selection of personal snapshots.  Family, friends, pets whatever takes your fancy.  Instead of struggling to extract that dog-eared wallet sized picture from your equally dog-eared and probably otherwise empty, wallet, instead regale any willing audience with a PDA slideshow.  A new baby?  New puppy?   New house?  Prize pumpkin?  No problem, your PDA can show it off in glorious color, at the water cooler, in the restaurant, on the airplane, wherever you want.

On the other hand, maybe you need a business tool.  Here the only limit becomes imagination.  Maybe you are in real estate.  Sure you have a laptop with you, but there you are touring yet another home with the impossible couple and they tell you what they d really like.  Treat them to a PDA slideshow of homes that fit the bill, right there and then.  Maybe you sell widget making tools.  Again you probably have a laptop along, but walking the widget factory floor you can show anyone your range of widget tools easily with your PDA.  Drag out that laptop to close the sale with the manager.  Maybe you need to show examples of your artwork or landscaping efforts, maybe you need to show your treasured collection of teapots, and so on.  You get the point.  A digital camera, a pc or laptop, your PDA and SplashPhoto and you are in business.  Mobile, readily at hand business.  From a practical perspective now you can show the expert at Home Depot your construction/plumbing/electrical/re-modeling (delete as applicable) nightmare problem.  Now you can show the green fingered genius at the garden center the exact spot, from all angles, that you want to plant an exotic centerpiece.

The PDA Interface

On installation SplashPhoto inserts an icon amidst your Programs.   Tap it and the application comes up in the last mode you used.

Picture 3 Small Thumbnails

At the top right of the screen are four selectable modes; detail listing, with location, name, size, date etc.; thumbnails, with titles, nine at once; smaller thumbnails, sixteen at once; and, thumbnails, with title, notes and category, four at once.  In this mode it s possible to re-categorize each thumbnail with a pull down list.

Picture 4- Preferences

The toolbar at the bottom of the screen gives you a Tools button, which expands to various options and preferences and the slideshow controls, including timer, and a button for quick access to preferences.

Slideshows can prove interesting as the software can automatically determine whether your picture is in portrait or landscape mode and orient it appropriately.  A fair degree of dexterity can keep your PDA safe as you flip it from vertical to horizontal.

Picture 5 Thumbnails with filenames


It s really been said.  Whether for pleasure or business if you have a digital camera and a PDA then you have many possibilities to combine the two.  For you avaricious sales folk out there, every opportunity out comes the PDA to display your wares.   If you want to see how many pictures of your cat the average sane person can tolerate before running away, you have your research tool.

Picture 6 A new puppy?


 Handier than a bunch of snapshots
 Easy to use, robust interface
 Simple cropping and editing capability
 Customizable list view, thumbnail view, and detail view


 No digital camera?  Not much fun, unless you like scanners
 Facilitates overindulgence of cute picture shows

System Requirements
 Supports all handheld models running Pocket PC 2002 and later
 160k of free memory for the application and 25k per image
 Windows 98, ME, NT4, 2000 or XP 
Footnote 1 – Image Optimization?

Need digital image manipulation tools to fully optimize those snaps before loading to your PDA?

Picture 7 Images to manipulate?

The fine folks at Media Chance have a functional and useful bunch of freebies: www.mediachance.com/digicam/ for download, as well as some more fully featured and capable products for purchase

Footnote 2 Later that same year ..

For various reasons this review took a long time to reach a finished state.  In the interim there s been some software that spent little time on my PDA.  On the other hand SplashPhoto is there to stay.  It s been resilient, problem free and has served a number of purposes in various settings.  A useful utility?  A handy digital snapshot album?  Either is effectively accommodated and you get both. 

And now for the Palm perspective…

SplashPhoto 4.05 for Palm


SplashPhoto is the kind of application you would expect to get included on the installer disk with your new handheld. You can start using it without reading the manual, it s bright and clean, it does what it says on the tin, there s nothing wrong with it it s just a little boring.

Let s try and review the basics without sounding like a user manual:
*It s made for viewing and organising photos on your Palm OS PDA.
*There are two parts to the program a Palm OS viewer and an almost mirror image module for Windows Desktop
*The two modules can synchronise together via a Hot Sync conduit.

SplashPhoto Desktop

This is where you input and edit photos to send to your PDA.

Drag and drop images to the SplashPhoto Desktop

You can set Splash Photo Desktop to crop the images to the size of your PDA Screen of leave them at the original size. 4 modes are available to show 2 sizes of thumbnail, a detail view and a list view. Once the pics are loaded into SplashPhoto Desktop you can fiddle around with them on an individual basis.

Fiddling around with a pics individual settings. No need for explanation here SplashPhoto is good at making things very obvious.

If you want to you can set categories for groups of pictures and specify if they go into internal or card memory when you synchronise.

Then it s big button time to synchronise the desktop and PDA modules.

SplashPhoto Palm Application
Yes it s D j vu all over again when you look at the Palm. Everything s there, the same pics, the same views.

Big Thumbnails

Little Thumbnails

List View

Detail View

You can organise and list by various criteria and set up a slide show. It all works very well

Set up sorting and viewing criteria

Set up your slide show

SplashPhoto even  integrates with Zlauncher to let you open JPG files straight into Splash Photo from the Tap and Hold menu.

To infinity and beyond!
If all of the above is all you need SplashPhoto is flawless, fun and functional stick in a Memory Stick from your digital camera however and things become more challenging.

Insert a Memory Stick with, say, 100 images on and you get a wait of around 13 seconds whilst SplashPhoto indexes the card. Compare this with around 4 seconds with Clie Viewer. (Timings from a Sony Clie TG50.) Then wait a little longer whilst thumbnails are built, timings here are on a par with Clie Viewer. One good point for SplashPhoto is that it will cache these thumbnails on the card so there is no thumbnail wait next time if the contents of the card have not changed.

JPEG formats
If you, like me, clip a lot of images from the web directly to a memory card you could hit another problem.

No thumbnails!


No Image!

This happened with around 20% of web clipped images. Clie Viewer, on the other hand, could read progressive JPEGs

Too big for me
SplashPhoto uses the PDAs internal memory to show images and if and image is a little large you could get this.

Too Big!

Again this was no problem for Clie Viewer. Another point to note is that SplashPhoto will not zoom beyond 100%. If you need to study fine detail (I often load a shot to my Clie right after shooting to decide if it s OK) you may find this a limit.

Clie Support
Not a great story here for Jog Dial and Back Button fans. Some limited support is available but the goal of single handed operation cannot be achieved, especially in zoomed mode where you would expect the jog dial to zoom or pan and the back button to take you back.

There s nothing wrong with SplashPhoto, it does a good job but it is best used with its dektop counterpart. If you like keeping photos in your wallet or purse to show people pics of your family/dog/home/what you did last summer then you ll love it. It s not an all rounder though.

Things I d like to see in SplashPhoto Professional
*Cropping  and re-sizing images on the Palm. (I don t always want to e-mail the whole thing)
*Zooming beyond 100%
*Faster Indexing
*Better Sony Jog Dial and Back Button support

The Bottom Line
A very well written, simple application for quick and easy photo viewing and organisation that more demanding users may soon outgrow.


So there you have it. For Pocket PC, the software was a big hit, while Palm, and specifically Clie users, may find it to be hit or miss.

Purchase Information:

SplashPhoto has a free 30-day trial at Handango which everyone who works with images on their PDAs should try out. If you like it, purchase price is $29.99.



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