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PDA Camera: Veo Photo Traveler CompactFlash Card (type II) for Pocket PC and SD card for Palm
posted May 2003 by Lisa Gade, Editor-in-Chief

Veo is a company that's been making web cameras and laptop cameras for a few years, and they've made a welcome entrance into the PDA arena with the $99 Veo Photo Traveler. The Photo Traveler is available in both Palm OS (SD card) and Pocket PC (type II CF) versions. We received both the Pocket PC and Palm versions for review. The CF unit has recently been redesigned to fit into the Dell's deeper CF slot. It's compatible with the iPAQ 36xx, 37xx, 38xx, 39xx, Toshiba e570, e740 and Dell Axim X5 Pocket PCs.

The Palm version is compatible with Palm OS PDAs with an SD slot running Palm OS 4.x or 5 and works with the Palm m12x, m5xx, i705, Tungsten T, Tungsten W Handspring Treo 90 and the Kyocera 7135.

Images and Movies

The Photo Traveler has a 1/3 megapixel digital camera, and can take JPEG photos at 160 x 120 (PPC version only), 3240 x 240 and 640 x 480 resolutions. The Pocket PC model can also record movies in two resolutions: 160 x 120 and 320 x 240 in .AVI format. It can record movies at 10 fps at 160 x 120.

Software and Installation

Installation is straightforward, and all the software you need is included on the companion CD. The the installer will place the camera driver and the Photo Traveler application on your PDA. It'll also install Veo Creative Studio on your PC. Creative Studio is a nice app that you can use to view photos and movies taken with the camera, as well as to create e-greeting cards and make movies.

Pocket PC Features

To take pictures, you'll launch the Photo Traveler app. You'll see a large preview screen which allows you to see what the camera "sees". When the camera is in the slot and the app is running, the camera is always on. To take pictures, you'll press the big red capture button positioned at the lower right corner of the preview window. It's big enough that you can use your thumb or finger rather than the stylus— a nice touch. The current resolution setting is displayed just below the preview window. If you wish to change settings, you'll press the settings button. You can set the resolution, still image vs. movie, turn on audio recording for movies (this uses the Pocket PC's internal mic), specify an image folder (either internal or SD card), set white balance (there are presets for Auto, fluorescent, incandescent and outdoor lighting) and set brightness. The camera also has a self timer. Not bad for a $99 camera! The unit uses manual focus, which can be a bit annoying, though it probably yields better pictures than a fixed focus lens. To focus, you'll turn the lens itself. It's marked with macro and landscape icons, so you know which direction to turn the lens, and it has 1 full turn of travel. Why is it annoying? Most users are accustomed to auto focus point and shoot cameras. Also the preview window image isn't that clear in bright ambient light or in darker shots, so it can be a bit difficult to tell if you've actually got your subject in focus. Fortunately, the focus range is broad and forgiving, so you don't have to be spot on to get a sharp shot.

Once you've taken your still images, you can press the album button to view them. Veo uses Pocket Internet Explorer as the viewing engine for still JPEG images. The Photo Traveler program handles playback of video. Note that if you record audio with your video, you'll be relying on your Pocket PC's built-in mic. The mic will likely be facing you rather than your subject given the front bezel mic location on most Pocket PCs. I noticed that it tended to record any sounds I made more loudly than my subject's.

Palm Features

Like the Pocket PC version, the Veo Palm camera fits in your expansion slot (SD rather than CF) and the camera head swivels, though only on one axis (front to back). The Palm version has fewer features than it's Pocket PC counterpart, but still gets the job done for a reasonable price. Note that the Palm version of the Veo does not capture video or audio, it is a still image camera.

The installer will place the Veo app on your PDA, and also updated SDIO drivers. To take pictures, simply place the camera in the SD slot and launch the Veo application. When you run the Veo app, you'll start off in the thumbnail view screen. As you can imagine, you'll see images you've shot on your PDA, and it's here that you can also change various camera settings via the menus. You can specify the image size and quality in Basic Prefs, and the app will tell you how many pix you can fit on your PDA at your selected image size and quality(about 38k for a small image and 200k for the highest resolution and quality). You can take shots at 640 x 480 or 320 x 240 resolution at one of three quality levels. Advanced Prefs allows you to turn of auto exposure if you wish to manually tweak exposure.

You can also beam images from the thumbnail window and delete any pictures you don't wish to keep. If you do wish to beam images to other Palm OS PDAs, the receiving Palm will need to have the Veo app installed. You can beam the Veo app to other Palm users, then beam the images.

To take pictures, you'll click on the camera icon at the bottom of the screen, and you'll see a preview window which shows you what the camera sees. Press the camera icon again to snap the photo, wait about 3 seconds and then Veo will show you the image you just captured and gives you the option to save or delete it. There's also a picture timer, which can be handy if you want to jump into that family shot.

Note that since the camera is in the SD slot, you will have to save images into internal memory. The preview window updates a bit slowly on slow Palms. While it's pretty fast on the Tungsten T, it's not terribly fast on the Kyocera 7135 (which also has a slow SD slot).

 

 

Veo Photo Traveler digital camera for Pocket PC

Pocket PC CF card version

top view, with lens swiveled

Veo camera for Palm

Palm OS SD card version with case

 

 

Image Quality

For a camera of this resolution, images are reasonably good. Since the camera doesn't have a flash, you will want to take images in good lighting or you'll see serious color aberrations and very dark shots. Below are sample images taken with the Veo at 630 x 480. To see the full size photo, click on the image.

The pictures are sharp as long as you've focused properly and the colors are fairly accurate in good lighting. If you're indoors under incandescent light, don't expect accurate colors or well lit pictures. This camera does need strong ambient light, either natural or plenty of indoor lighting. Color aberrations and fringing are not that bad for a camera of this resolution and price.

Conclusion

This is an easy to use, battery friendly camera that takes very good pictures for $99. The software offers good features, is very intuitive and you'll be taking pictures for business or pleasure in no time. While it can't replace a dedicated digicam, it is great for capturing those fleeting moments when your camera isn't handy, or for doing vertical work in markets such as insurance or real estate.

www.veo.com

 

Other Pocket PC Add-On Cameras we've Reviewed:

Nexian NexiCam Sleeve for iPAQ

FlyCAM CF 1.3MP

 

 

 

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