capsule review

PalmPix

Toting a full-size digital camera along with your other gear takes up space and adds considerable weight. If you own any member of Palm's III or VII family, now there's an alternative: Kodak's tiny, lightweight PalmPix camera.

The PalmPix is basically a fixed-focus, 640-by-480-pixel, CMOS-imaging system, and not much else. It lacks a shutter button, viewfinder, and flash. To use the PalmPix, you install the included software on your Palm, and operate the camera using the Palm's left-most application button. Once you connect the camera and launch the app, pressing the button once turns your Palm screen into a crude viewfinder; pressing the button twice takes the picture. Because there is considerable lag time in how often the Palm screen updates as you position your shot, we wish the PalmPix had an optical viewfinder.

The PalmPix software provides only the most basic of controls. There is a self-timer option and the choice of either 640-by-480 or 320-by-240 image size. A single higher-quality image takes up 100K on your Palm device. While you can view images on your Palm, they're nowhere near the same quality as when uploaded to your Mac -- even on the Palm IIIc's color screen. The images look great if you re-download them into any of the Palm's popular photo album programs, which leaves us wondering why Kodak didn't bundle basic photo album features in their PalmPix application.

Compared to other digital cameras, the PalmPix's images are sure to disappoint. Unless you're outdoors, white balance and contrast are less than satisfactory due to the lack of a flash. Image focus is a little soft and compression artifacts are readily noticeable, even at the higher-quality image size. However, the images can be valuable for business use, such as taking a picture of a whiteboard in a well-lit office, which is my favorite use of the PalmPix camera.

The PalmPix represents true convenience for a small class of users -- folks who need a tiny "spy" camera they can carry everywhere they take their Palm. Battery life is incredible compared to other digital cameras. However, the PalmPix's lack of a flash, viewfinder, and more sophisticated software features will leave those desiring a real digital camera unsatisfied.

At a Glance
  • Pros

    • Long battery life
    • Lightweight
    • Small

    Cons

    • Low image quality
    • Limited features
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