First impression on unpacking the Q702 test unit was the solid feel and clean, minimalist styling.
Sony HDPSL1 Hard Drive Photo Storage
- Good quality image output, good range of slideshows to pick from
- Doesn't do all that much considering the price, not entirely intuitive
A novel idea, and one that works pretty well, but we can't help thinking it's a little overpriced.
Price$ 499.00 (AUD)
Buy now (Selling at 2 stores)
The latest fad to hit the world of digital photography is displaying photos in LCD digital frames. Paper is just so last millennium. We saw it fairly recently with Philips' Digital Photo Display - a nice product, but perhaps a little small for some. Sony has upped the ante with their HDPSL1 hard drive photo storage; instead of bundling a screen with the device it connects to your television, even supporting High Definition. Be prepared to have those embarrassing snapshots splashed across your living room in full 65-inch glory.
The HDPSL1 does more than just display photos. At the core of the device is an 80GB hard drive that's perfect for keeping backups of all your precious moments. To display images they must be copied to the hard drive whether you like it or not, so the potential as a useful backup tool is perhaps one of the greatest advantages of the device. Getting your photos on to the HDPSL1 is relatively simple, though in some cases not as easy as we would have liked. The easiest method, and the one that most people will probably choose, is to use the range of card slots on the front of the unit.
Sony has usefully included an input for almost every mainstream format. This includes Sony's Memory Stick Media, CompactFlash, SD, MMC, XD cards and Microdrive media. Transferring the images over is as simple as putting your card in the front and pressing the large button usefully marked 'Copy'. The HDPSL1 whips into life and rapidly copies the images across. If your images are on a computer then you can connect the device to a spare USB port where it appears as an external hard drive.
This is where things become a little less intuitive. As the HDPSL1 uses a special naming convention for its folders based on the date they were copied you can't just copy images wherever you please. Images must first be placed into a special temporary folder on the drive. Next, using the on-screen menu, the images must be converted into the HDPSL1's special format. While this works fine for most images (the HDPSL1 accepts JPEG or RAW files), it simply refused to import some of our images. The reason for this is that the device only accepts images that comply to DCF (Design rule for Camera File system). This means that edited images from a computer are unlikely to display on the device. The HDPSL1 also refused to import photos from memory cards that had files other than photos.
These two minor quibbles aside, we found the HDPSL1 to work pretty well. We connected the unit to a high definition LCD television using component connectors, but composite is also supported. The HDPSL1 has a maximum output of 720p, and at this resolution images looked very crisp. Images can be viewed individually, allowing the user to pan and zoom, or for a much more interesting effect there are numerous slideshow options that can be applied. These flick the images on screen in a random order, using PowerPoint style fading, hatching and jigsaw options. Some go even further by transplanting the pictures into a book and all come complete with special music. Alternately, images can be displayed one after the other. Sets of pictures can also be browsed by the date they were imported using an on-screen calendar. If Sony's preset music gets tiring it's easy to copy alternative tracks over from a PC, though they must be in WAV format, which is awkward.
Overall the HDPSL1 is a well thought out product, and once you've got used to the system of file transfers, it's very easy to use. Aside from the few pictures it refused to display we had no problems with the unit. We feel the major deterrent to people wanting to purchase what is effectively just a glorified hard drive is going to be the price.
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