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  #1  
Old 02-09-2004, 06:00 PM
Anthony Caruana
Sage
Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 706
Default I'll Show You Mine! Spb Imageer Reviewed

So you've embraced the digital age. The old paper diary has been replaced by a desktop PIM and a Pocket PC. Your old SLR camera is in a cupboard, destined to never again see the light of day. Most of what you do is tied up to some device or other. But, one of the things you find really annoying is that while you're on vacation you take a pile pf photos with that digital camera and you can't clean your images up. And then you get home and you need an easy way to share them with all your friends and family. Well, the team at <a href="http://www.spbsoftwarehouse.com">Spb Software House</a> has an answer to your problems; Spb Imageer 1.0. This app is brilliant as an "on-the-go" image organiser and editor.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-0.jpg" /> <br /><br /><!><i>Imageer 1.0 is Spb Software House's latest foray into the world of digital imaging on the Pocket PC. If you're looking for Photoshop on the Pocket PC, then Imageer is not for you. Spb has designed Imageer around the premise that users would be focused on specific functions that they would want to perform on the Pocket PC. Imageer's user interface makes performing the most common image manipulations quick and simple. There are some improvements I'd like to see but Imageer gets close to the target in this first release.</i><br /><br /><span><b>So, What Does It Do?</b></span><br />When you look at what Imageer does, it's hard to believe it achieves so much with a simple set of toolbars and menus. The screen is very uncluttered, making it easy to use. Among the key features are:
  • <li>Picture editing (red-eye, brightness, contrast, hue, saturation, and more);<br /><li>Read-ahead caching to make image loading faster;<br /><li>Storage card notification with common tasks;<br /><li>Desktop ActiveSync conversion filter;<br /><li>One-click slideshows with smooth transitions;<br /><li>Multiple thumbnail options with multi-threaded thumbnail generation;<br /><li>Batch optimizing of photos;<br /><li>Web publishing to Fotki.com;<br /><li>Album creation and sharing;<br /><li>Rich picture notes (text, drawing, and sound).
<span><b>How Did I Test Imageer?</b></span><br />In order to put Imageer through its paces I used Spike, my iPAQ 2210. I installed Imageer to a Sandisk 256 MB SD card and accessed my photos from a Kingston 128 MB CF card (love those dual slots ;-)) One of the neat features of Imageer is that it auto launches when you reinsert a storage card into your device. All the pictures I worked with were shot with my Canon PowerShot A40. None of them had been altered in any way prior to manipulating them with Imageer. The images I worked with were between 700 K and 1 MB in size. They were shot with my two megapixel camera at the highest resolution and image quality settings.<br /><br /><span><b>Installation</b></span><br />Installation is a snap - you'll need to set aside just under 2 MB. Of this, about 1.6 MB goes to the installation location and the rest to the /Windows folder on your device, even if you install it to a storage card. You can reduce the amount of system RAM used up by deleting the sample photos and album that the installer deposits in the /My Documents folder. This gives you back about 200K. The only option you need to consider is whether to include the Activesync filter.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-1.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 1: Installing Imageer.</i><br /><br />On the Pocket PC side of things you'll need to decide whether to use Imageer as your default viewer for most common image types. However, this can be easily changed from within the application options if you change your mind later.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-2.jpg" /><br /><i>Figures 2: Setting file associations during installation.</i> <br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-3.jpg" /> <br /><i>Figures 3: Setting file associations through the Options Dialog.</i><br /> <PAGEBREAK> <br /><span><b>Using Imageer</b></span><br />For an application that does so much, Imageer is really easy to use. After starting it up from the icon installed into the Programs folder, I opened my CF card using the folder selector in the top left corner of the screen. This is similar to the File Explorer that ships with Pocket PC. There is no wizard at start up so, after launching, you are straight into the application.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-4.jpg" /> <br /><br /><img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-5.jpg" /><br /><i>Figures 4 and 5: Accessing photos on my CF Card.</i><br /><br />There are three views for looking at the image folder;
  • <li>Thumbnails;<br /><li>Thumbnails with details;<br /><li>Details.
<br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-6.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 6: The Thumbnails with Details View.</i><br /><br />In addition to the information in the image views, there are detailed properties pages for the images that show everything from image size to the model of camera used to take the picture and whether the flash was used.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-7.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 7: The Properties Page for an image.</i><br /><br />Once you select an image to view and edit, it appears on the screen. You can choose to either shrink the image to fit on screen or view the image in its full size (you can pan around the image using the stylus). There is a full screen mode that removes the toolbars and menus as well. One of Imageer's strongest features is that while you are viewing an image, it preloads the next image into memory so that it loads quickly. This is a huge plus when dealing with high resolution photos. <br /><br />Performance-wise, Imageer is very strong. The pre-caching of photos means that the wait time for opening the next picture is negligible. As long as I didn't hit the "Next Picture" button too fast, I seldom waited more than a second for a photo to load. The thumbnail views appeared far quicker than the ones generated by Pictures, the image viewing application that ships on Windows Mobile 2003 devices.<br /><br /><span><b>Working With Images</b></span><br />Imageer makes it easy to edit images. I used Imageer to crop a photo so that I only retained the portion of the photo that was of interest to me. While viewing an image, the last button on the toolbar, the palette, activates the various image editing tools. Cropping works simply; just select the Crop tool from the toolbar and use the stylus to select the area of the picture you wish to keep. Then just tap inside the selection to complete the operation. A Save command is available on the toolbar to retain the cropped image. One thing though, once you execute the Save command, the cropped image overwrites the original image. There is a Save As option, but it's in the Edit menu and can be easily missed. <br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-8.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 8: Cropping an image.</i><br /><br />Removing red-eye from an image is just as easy. Just zoom in on the image so that you can see the red-eye clearly. Select the Anti Red-Eye tool and select the image area you wish to correct. Tap inside the selected area and save. My only gripe about this is that red-eye areas in photos tend to be round and the selection tool only selected straight sided areas. If the Anti Red-Eye tool could accurately select the pupil of an eye it would be better. As it is, it's still pretty good.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-9.jpg" /><br /><i> Figure 9: Using the Anti Red-Eye Tool.</i><br /><br />Image brightness and contrast can be adjusted by activating the appropriate tool from the toolbar and using the slider control.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-10.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 10: Adjusting brightness and contrast.</i><br /><br />The Edit menu on the image editing toolbar also allows the user to alter the red, green and blue color balance of the image, sharpen and blur filters, rotate and resize images. There are also undo and redo commands. And, just in case, there is a Return to Saved option in case you make multiple changes and want to return to where you last saved.<br /> <PAGEBREAK> <br /><b><span>Albums and Publishing</span></b><br />Like many other image management tools, Imageer lets you create albums of your images and play them as slideshows. There are plenty of slideshow options including using timed slide transitions and different transition types. Although there aren't quite as many transition types as Microsoft PowerPoint, there are plenty to choose from. This feature would have been close to perfect for me if it had VGA card support. That way I could show my photos as a presentation to a monitor or television. Some other Pocket PC graphics applications let you attach a soundtrack to a presentation. Imageer does not support this function. This wasn't a big deal to me but it might be for you.<br /><br />In addition to the slideshow mode, Imageer supports direct publishing to the Fotki.com service. The publishing process is almost identical to album creation. The only difference is the destination of the output. Unfortunately, you can't change the publishing location to your own Web site.<br /><br />Both processes were very simple to effect. There is a well thought out wizard that provides clear instructions and options at each stage. You can select image sizes, contrast and brightness control, image rotation, image renaming with support for automatic name prefixing and .jpeg quality.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-11.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 11: Publishing to the Web and creating albums.</i><br /><br /><b><span>The Activesync Filter</span></b><br />Imageer adds an image filter to Activesync if you select that option at installation (it's on by default). This plug-in supports some image transitions should you use Activesync to transfer files to your Pocket PC. It lets you change image size, .jpeg quality and rotate the image as it's being sent to your Pocket PC. Although it's a nice feature, I personally would not use it often as I tend to use card readers for transferring data to storage cards on my Pocket PC. But it would be handy for small file transfers to my Pocket PC.<br /><br /> <img src="http://www.pocketpcthoughts.com/images/web/2003/caruana-jan04-imageer-12.jpg" /><br /><i>Figure 12: The Activesync plug-in.</i><br /><br /><b><span>Gotchas</span></b><br />Imageer is a very strong version 1 application release. However, there were a few things I found a little annoying.<br /><br />
  • <li>For some image edits I preferred to rotate the image before carrying out the edit. I found that when I activated the editing toolbar the image reverted back to its original orientation.<br /><br /><li>The lack of VGA output was a limitation I'd like to see addressed. After all, the iPAQ Image Viewer that ships with the 2210 includes it.<br /><br /><li>The auto-rotate option was a little annoying as it did not seem to work out the best orientation for many of my pictures. I ended up turning this function off.<br /><br /><li>The Save As command is not easily accessed while editing a picture.<br /><br /><li>You can't alter the location of where photos are published on the Web.<br /><br />
<span><b>Where To Buy</b></span><br />The software can be <a href="http://www.handango.com/brainstore/PlatformProductDetail.jsp?siteId=311&productId=102019">downloaded from Handango </a> [Affiliate]. A trial version (limited to 15 days) is available. This can be turned into a full version by purchasing a registration key for $14.95 USD. If you're already a registered Palbum owner you can upgrade for just $7.50 USD.<br /><br /><b><span>Conclusions</span></b><br />Imageer sets out to deliver simple image management and editing on the Pocket PC. It achieves this with a very simple user experience and no complexity. If you use a digital camera and a Pocket PC then this application should be a part of your travelling toolkit.
 
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  #2  
Old 02-09-2004, 06:40 PM
butch
Intellectual
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 185
Default Re: I'll Show You Mine! Spb Imageer Reviewed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Anthony Caruana
[*]The Save As command is not easily accessed while editing a picture.
In fact, the "Save As" option is not a "Save As", it an export, because when you save as, then close the picture, is ask you if you want to save and if you tap Yes, it will overwrite the original picture! 8O
 
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  #3  
Old 02-09-2004, 06:49 PM
Jason Dunn
Executive Editor
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Posts: 29,160
Default Re: I'll Show You Mine! Spb Imageer Reviewed

Quote:
Originally Posted by butch
In fact, the "Save As" option is not a "Save As", it an export, because when you save as, then close the picture, is ask you if you want to save and if you tap Yes, it will overwrite the original picture! 8O
Correct - you should not click OK when you're finished, because in the Pocket PC world, OK = save. You should click CANCEL on the editing bar to get out of the editing mode. This is normal Pocket PC behaviour. ;-) I'm open to suggestions as to how we can improve it though!

Sincerely,

Jason Dunn
VP Marketing
Spb Software House
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  #4  
Old 02-09-2004, 07:07 PM
arbitrajeu
Pupil
Join Date: Nov 2003
Posts: 32
Default Re: I'll Show You Mine! Spb Imageer Reviewed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Dunn
Correct... I'm open to suggestions as to how we can improve it though!
Rename the "Save as..." option "Export..." instead, just to be explicit. This would then not set the expectation that the user was then working on the "saved as" version.

I love the product, by the way.
 
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  #5  
Old 02-09-2004, 07:15 PM
Jason Dunn
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Posts: 29,160
Default Re: I'll Show You Mine! Spb Imageer Reviewed

Quote:
Originally Posted by arbitrajeu
Rename the "Save as..." option "Export..." instead, just to be explicit. This would then not set the expectation that the user was then working on the "saved as" version.
Ah, ok. So what you're saying is that in desktop photo editing applications, when you use the SAVE AS function on a photo, the photo you're working on becomes the SAVE AS photo, and your original photo is no longer being edited, right? And with Imageer, we keep the original photo open, even after the SAVE AS has been performed. Hmm. Yes, I understand your point better now. I'll see about getting it changed!

Sincerely,

Jason Dunn
VP Marketing
Spb Software House
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  #6  
Old 02-09-2004, 08:59 PM
butch
Intellectual
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 185
Default Re: I'll Show You Mine! Spb Imageer Reviewed

Quote:
Originally Posted by Jason Dunn
Ah, ok. So what you're saying is that in desktop photo editing applications, when you use the SAVE AS function on a photo, the photo you're working on becomes the SAVE AS photo, and your original photo is no longer being edited, right? And with Imageer, we keep the original photo open, even after the SAVE AS has been performed. Hmm. Yes, I understand your point better now. I'll see about getting it changed!
Thanks Jason.
I already made the comment to Vassilli will I was beta testing, I don't remember if he gave me a good reason to keep it that way...
You could also just change the popup message to "do you want to save change to "original_file_name"... "
Anyway it's not a big deal once you know hoe the program act.
 
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  #7  
Old 02-09-2004, 10:12 PM
Cypher
Ponderer
Join Date: Feb 2003
Posts: 55

This is a fantastic program. If there were one thing different, I could use it to replace my photo editing and my slide show software. That one thing is that, although all the features work in VGA mode on my Toshiba e800, the slide show is qVGA. (Pictures display in the top left quarter of the screen). :cry: Maybe in version 1.1??
 
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  #8  
Old 02-09-2004, 10:14 PM
Jason Dunn
Executive Editor
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Join Date: Aug 2006
Posts: 29,160

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cypher
This is a fantastic program. If there were one thing different, I could use it to replace my photo editing and my slide show software. That one thing is that, although all the features work in VGA mode on my Toshiba e800, the slide show is qVGA. (Pictures display in the top left quarter of the screen). :cry: Maybe in version 1.1??
VGA support is definitely on our radar, but likely not until it's officially supported by Microsoft. Stay tuned, and thanks for the feedback.

Sincerely,

Jason Dunn
VP Marketing
Spb Software House
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  #9  
Old 02-10-2004, 12:14 AM
kzemach
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Join Date: Jul 2003
Posts: 114
Default Review Addendum?

What I'd love to see is some sort of side-by-side comparison of image loading/saving/editing times. For instance, the program we're trying to use now is PAINFULLY slow. Like, 50 seconds to do a downsample and save. The answer I get from the company goes something like this:

"Well, if it's a 1MB JPG file, it's really more like a 12MB file to work with it, thus it's pretty slow."

Still, I can't believe it has to be that slow, thus I'd be curious how this program compares. If it's faster, I'll buy it! Referring here to the effective "native image speed," not this impression of faster loading times due to preloading of the next image as discussed in the article. Would also be curious if it has the following features:

*downsampling; can I reduce the size/resolution/compression?
*annotating: can I draw/put text on to annotate an image?

But, nice review! Maybe I'll buy it anyway just to play with it.

Ken
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  #10  
Old 02-10-2004, 12:28 AM
Jonathon Watkins
Swami
Join Date: Feb 2004
Posts: 4,303
Default Re: Review Addendum?

Quote:
Originally Posted by kzemach
Maybe I'll buy it anyway just to play with it.
Nah - try the free 15 day trial first! :wink: That's what I'm doing. :way to go:
 
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