SanDisk has produced a compact device that lets consumers display digital still pictures or video clips on their TV sets and even attach soundtracks to slide shows. Using any of eight flash memory card formats as well as portable USB flash drives, the unit enables consumers to play MP3 music files on their home audio systems.
SanDisk's digital photo album allows consumers to bypass their computers entirely when storing, organizing and viewing images from a digital camera. Rather than having friends or family crowding around a small PC monitor, a user can attach the SanDisk Photo Album (SPA) to any television set that has an audio/video input, then show larger-than-life images and video clips. The device comes with a remote control that allows for multiple functions. With a suggested retail price of $49.99, it will be sold worldwide through consumer electronics and photo retailers.
"Market research suggests that consumers are looking for non-PC solutions to view and share their digital photos and video clips," said Chris Chute, senior analyst with IDC, an international research company. "The SanDisk Photo Album is positioned correctly for consumers to take greater advantage of their personal digital content."
On the front side, the SPA supports eight flash memory card formats in four slots -- for CompactFlash Type I/II, SD/MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick/Memory Stick PRO, and SmartMedia/xD. On the rear side there are two USB sockets, one that can connect to a PC (the device can also be used as an 8-in-1 card reader/writer), and another that can host a portable USB flash drive such as a SanDisk Cruzer Mini, Cruzer Micro or Cruzer Titanium. Also on the back is a slot for a second CompactFlash Card (not included). This card can be used as archiving memory for storing extended slide shows from images that are displayed from flash cards on the front side or from the USB flash drive. This rear card also can store and replay video clips and MP3 music selections.
Dimensions of the product are 7.4 x 2.6 x 0.8 inches. In addition to standard JPEG still images and MP3 files, the media player supports Motion JPEG and MPEG-1 for video.
"The SanDisk Photo Album provides a convenient and versatile way for digital camera users to show their photos and video clips in a continuous slide show in the comfort of their living rooms," said Matthijs Hutten, product marketing manager for SanDisk's viewers and readers. "And while they are browsing through their images for the first time, they can instantly create a photo album by pushing the store button on their favorite pictures."
One of the key features of the SanDisk Photo Album is the ability to store images in a format that is optimal for television viewing. While the visual quality is similar to the original, higher-resolution version, the actual file size that is saved is much smaller. Therefore, it is possible for a 256-megabyte CF card inserted in the rear slot to hold up to 4,000 photos for TV playback. That can represent years of memories -- vacations, get-togethers with family or friends, even sports -- without the need to pull out bulky scrapbooks, shoeboxes full of prints or fragile CD-ROMs.
Want to check out some music? Playing MP3 tracks through television speakers or through a separate audio system is easy. Just load the SanDisk Photo Album with a flash card or USB flash drive that contains MP3 files and it will play them just like CDs on a CD player. When the device is connected to a TV, the user can jump to specific selections from the music menu that is displayed on the screen. Also, it is possible to drop MP3 files onto the same card that stores images for TV playback and automatically have background music for slide shows.
"For about the same price as a video game, the SanDisk Photo Album enables users to view, share and store images and videos without using a computer," said Hutten. "It packs a great deal of value and functionality into a compact design, and it's a wonderful accessory for anyone with a digital still camera or the desire to play MP3 music through a home audio system."
SanDisk makes digital imaging and audio storage products.