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  •      -- Abracadabra 1.2
         -- ACDSee 7.0
         -- AlbumNow 1.1
         -- Canon ZoomBrowser EX 3.2
         -- CodedColor PhotoStudio Pro 4.1.2.9
         -- CompuPic 6.23
         -- Easy Imager 2.0
         -- EZ-Pix 7.02
         -- FastStone Image Viewer 1.7
         -- Firehand Ember 7
         -- FlipAlbum 5 Standard 1.7
         -- FocusViewer 2.1
         -- Foto Album Pro 4.6.1
         -- Futuris Imager 4.7.1
         -- IrfanView 3.95
         -- MegaView 7.07
         -- MySlideShow 2.4
         -- Photoa 3.4
         -- Photo Album 5
         -- PhotoJam 4
         -- Photo-Lux 3.3
         -- PhotoRelay 2.5
         -- PhotoShow 3.0
         -- Photo Story 3
         -- PicaJet Photo Organizer 2.4
         -- Picasa 2
         -- Picolo 1.7
         -- Picture Viewer .EXE 1.1.218
         -- PicViewPlus 1.2
         -- PolyView 4.22
         -- ProShow Gold 2.0
         -- RoboPhoto 3.1
         -- SlideShow Desktop 2.8
         -- SlideShow Ultra Gold 6.0.11
         -- Thumber 3.35
         -- UniView 1.65
         -- VuePrint Pro 8.0
         -- Windows Picture and Fax Viewer 
         -- XnView 1.74
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    PicViewPlus 1.2 (LinkWise Software - www.linkwise.net - Shareware - $20.00)

    Program Overview: PicViewPlus is a picture file browser with a large number of features.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Purchase reminder notices appear after 30 days.

    Picture Set Selection: Begin by selecting a folder of picture files.

    Picture Ordering: Pictures may be sorted by picture file name or date. They may also be sorted randomly. By bringing up the "Thumbnail Views" window, you can move the pictures around, customizing the display order.

    Size & Positioning: The selected picture is scaled to fit the full picture area when first displayed. The PicViewPlus application window may be sized to suit your preference (e.g., it may be maximized to fill the entire screen). And of course it may be moved to any convenient position on your display screen.

    Picture Selection: Picture advancement is done via screen buttons or the keyboard, which trigger display of the Next, Previous, First, or Last picture. Buttons First and Previous also allow you to choose movements of 1 to 10 pictures. You may also go to any arbitrary picture by clicking on its thumbnail. Finally, you may search for a picture by the text contained within it.

    Pan & Zoom: To zoom into a particular area of the picture, use the mouse to left-click the center of that area, or drag a zoom box. To zoom out, use the mouse to shift-left-click the zoom out point. To pan, control-left-click the point you want to become the center of the picture. Zooms and pans may also be done with the keyboard.

    Orientation Changes: The picture may be rotated clockwise, counterclockwise, flipped vertically, or flipped horizontally.

    Picture Information: Unlike other picture display programs, PicViewPlus has exceptional capability when it comes to reading a picture's internal information consisting of EXIF tags. (Applies to TIF, PNG, or JPG picture files.) Virtually every single piece of information is displayed, even Global Positioning System data! But for the average user, the tags of importance are such tags as Picture Description, Photographer, and User Comment. Almost no picture display program allows you to enter or edit text in these tags, but PicViewPlus not only allows it, but provides the ability to easily enter repetitive data (e.g., copy the tag data from the last picture viewed).

    Captioning: The picture captioning ability of most picture display programs ranges from none to crude. PicViewPlus makes it very easy to add flexible captioning. Most caption text comes from the picture file's EXIF tag data. You have the ability to select which tag data to include within a caption block, e.g., Picture Description. Furthermore, you have the ability to specify the size, color, font, and effects of each caption line.

    This caption block can be superimposed over the picture at the top-center, bottom-center, top-left, and bottom-left. You can also select a custom area of the picture where the caption should be shown. For those who don't want any part of their picture covered by a caption, the caption text block can appear within its own scrolling window above the picture or below the picture.

    The caption display can also be temporarily hidden so as not to obscure the picture.

    Slide Show: A timed slide show begins when checkbox Picture Timer is checked. The length of time a picture shows, as well as whether the pictures repeat, can both be specified.

    Sound/Audio: A sound file can play while its associated picture is being displayed. To do this, the sound file and the picture file should share the same name (they will of course have different file types). For example, a picture directory might contain files MOUNTAIN.JPG and MOUNTAIN.WAV.

    One or more background sound files can also be specified. Any sound file name that doesn't match a picture name becomes a background sound file.

    A picture sound file will override a background sound file, pausing it.

    Transition Effects: A variety of transition effects are available for transitioning from one picture to another.

    Wallpaper: There are times when the picture doesn't exactly cover the available display area. You may visually select the background "wallpaper" that will cover this area. Furthermore, you may select the wallpaper that serves as a background to the caption box.

    Simulated Frames: To enhance the visual appeal of your pictures, you may visually select from among dozens of simulated picture frames. You may also choose the thickness of the picture frames. You may choose to have the selected frame appear on all displayed pictures by default, or a frame may be attached to a particular picture so that it will always display with that picture.

    Printing: PicViewPlus has one of the most flexible printing schemes available in slide show programs. Select from among 20 page templates. Then simply click the template box where the currently displayed picture is to go. Fill all or some of the boxes. You see the displayed picture sized to the template box. When you click a box, you have the option of selecting the picture rotation. You can also choose if the ends should be clipped for a maximum size fit.

    Finally, you may choose to have each picture printed with or without it's caption, and with or without it's picture frame.

    PicViewPlus contains a huge set of features, and yet is very easy to use. Its strengths are its extensive EXIF data along with the ability to edit it, and its picture captioning ability. Its implementation of sound files and picture frames only enhance picture enjoyment.


    go back Abracadabra 1.3 (LightTEK Software - www.lighttek.com/abra.htm - Free)

    The program is claimed to be "easy and convenient to use" with a "unique interface". It is really a general purpose editor and viewing program, for text and graphics. To display pictures, it simply calls the Microsoft Windows Picture and Fax Viewer. Hence, Abracadabra will not be covered here.


    go back ACDSee 7.0 (ACD Systems, Ltd. - www.acdsystems.com/English/index.htm - $49.99)

    Program Overview: ACDSee is one of the most sophisticated picture display and editing programs available. It also includes a number of associated tools.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 30-day trial.

    Picture Set Selection: Like several other picture display programs, ACDSee initially presents you with a window ("Browser Window") having three panes:

    • Upper-left pane: A Windows Explorer view of the folders on your PC
    • Right pane: A thumbnails view of the content of a selected folder
    • Lower-left pane: A preview of a selected thumbnail
    To view a picture, first select a folder, then a thumbnail within that folder. A preview of the picture will then be displayed. If you double-click the thumbnail, the picture will be shown in a large "Viewer" window.

    Size & Positioning: The ACDSee Browser and Viewer windows can be resized and moved, and the individual panes of the Browser window can be resized.

    Picture Ordering: Picture ordering abilities (under Sort) are extensive: by name, type, date, size, properties, description, or custom (move thumbnails). Automatic sorts can be done in forward or reverse order.

    Picture Selection: Icons Next and Previous handle picture advancement. But to go to the first or last picture, you need to go to the keyboard: key Home takes you to the first picture, and key End to the last one. There is no way to skip forward/backward several pictures. To jump to a random picture, you have to close the Viewer window and double-click on another thumbnail.

    You can search for pictures by the properties they contain. Property sets that can be searched are ACD Database, EXIF tag data, File Properties, Image Attributes, and Multimedia Attributes.

    Multiple search expressions can be used, such as these two examples:

    • Image description contains alex
    • User comment contains alex
    Instead of "contains", other relationships available are "is", "is not", "is any of", and "starts with". When multiple search expression are used, a match is obtained only when all of the expressions match.

    Pan & Zoom: The Zoom-In and Zoom-Out icons always reference the picture center. The Zoom Tool icon lets you zoom to a specific point. However, after the zoom, that point doesn't end up at the center of the screen unless you are at a high zoom factor - which can be confusing.

    The Scroll-Tool, represented by a "hand" icon, lets you pan a zoomed picture. There is no way to pan a picture so that a clicked point becomes the center of the displayed picture. There is no way to zoom out using the mouse. There is a rectangular zoom. To use it, you first click on the Select-Tool, then drag the mouse to create a rectangular box, then click within this box.

    All pan and zoom operations have keyboard equivalents (e.g., "*" fits the picture to the display window).

    Orientation Changes: You can rotate clockwise, counterclockwise, and flip vertically or horizontally.

    Slide Show: Selecting menu item "View | Slide Show..." brings up another form where you specify transition effects, image display time, display order, and Header and Footer Text. (It's strange that the Header and Footer text already attached to a picture can't be used - you have to separately enter it again.) Clicking OK to this window then runs the full-screen slide show. It's only controls are Next, Previous, Select-a-picture, Pause, and Resume. There is no zoom or pan.

    Picture Information: Select a picture and click on its Properties icon. There are three sets of properties: Database, File, and EXIF.

    The EXIF information is outstanding in it's completeness and accuracy - even the EXIF Maker Note is accurately decoded. Unlike virtually all other similar programs, you can enter and edit tags Image Description, Artist, Copyright, and User Comment. The only drawback is that you can't enter multi-line data, which is so important in tag Image Description.

    There is a complete list of File Properties, with the exception of NTFS file summary information, which helps characterize the file content.

    ACDSee also shows Database Properties, which includes things such as Caption, Notes, Keywords, and Categories.

    Captioning: You also can overlay each picture with textual information consisting of a "Header" and a "Footer". Each may consist of multiple lines. Each may have a specified colored background. The text font, color, and size may be specified in each. These font characteristics apply to all lines in the Header or Footer.

    At any place in the captioning, you can insert metadata, such as the EXIF Image Description tag, or the size of the file. The implementation appears very well done.

    There is no way to place any of this caption text outside the picture, so that it doesn't obscure part of the picture.

    No other program except PicViewPlus allows this flexibility in captioning.

    Transition Effects: There are 12 selectable transition effects, accessible under menu selection View | Slide Show. But they are only active in "Slide Show" mode, and they take place so fast you almost don't notice them. You can preview each transition effect.

    Sound/Audio: You can associate an audio file with an image. This audio file will play when the associated image is displayed. But there are problems. If the audio duration is longer than the display time, the audio gets truncated (the display time should be extended to the duration of the audio play time).

    Sound files can be separate from the picture (sharing the same name), or embedded within the picture (if the picture format is PNG or JPG).

    Wallpaper: Clicking menu item "Tools | Set Background Tile" sets the picture background to part of the background of the currently displayed picture, which seems a little weird.

    Printing: You have the ability to print a picture by selecting menu option "File | Print". However, this ability has some severe limitations:
    • Only 6 printing templates are available.
    • The Header and Footer used in browsing the pictures are ignored! If you want them, you have to use new pure text (no metadata).
    • The selected picture can't be rotated for a better fit.
    • The templates only contain one print box per page (so you can't print two pictures per page)
    You can create a contact sheet (thumbnail images) of selected pictures, however. In short, picture printing is not a strong point for ACDSee.

    Simulated Frames: There is no capability to display simulated picture frames.

    Other Features: ACDSee has numerous picture editing features that aren't covered here. It also has capabilities such as creating a PDF slide show, an executable slide show, and a video CD slide show (separate module needed).

    ACDSee 7.0 is a feature-packed program. In fact, it seems to have almost too many features, making it a bit difficult to learn. The ability to define its caption content is outstanding, as is it's complete and accurate display of picture EXIF information. It is weak in printing and in the fact that Headers and Footers need to be repeatedly refefined. Nevertheless, it sets the standard in terms of feature richness.

    Other Reviews:


    go back AlbumNow 1.1 (NearSoftware, Inc. - www.photoactions.com/anow - Shareware - $15.95)

    Program Overview: AlbumNow consists of two programs (AlbumNow Wizard and AlbumNow Viewer). You first create a photo album using the Wizard. Next, you use the AlbumNow viewer to view it - a somewhat cumbersome operation that no other slide show program has.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Fully functional 30-day trial.

    Picture Set Selection: The Wizard must first be used to build an album file. Then the Viewer can select among these albums.

    Orientation Changes: Clockwise and counterclockwise rotation is available, but flipping isn't.

    Picture Ordering: There doesn't seem to be any way to order the pictures.

    Picture Selection: Picture selection is by First, Prev, Next, Last, or explicitly by clicking on a thumbnail button to select by thumbnail.

    Size & Positioning: Pictures are displayed in full-screen mode. Unfortunately, the program's icon appears on almost every picture, probably as a purchase reminder.

    Pan & Zoom: Zooming can be done by dragging the left mouse button to make a rectangle, then clicking in that rectangle. But this only works once! Alternatively, the "+" key will zoom in, although the zoom point is then the upper left corner. Panning can be done by dragging the left mouse button or by using the arrow keys.

    Captioning: For annotation, you can have the picture file name and a comment placed on the picture being displayed. While the name displays, I was unable to find out how to attach a comment to a picture and have it appear.

    Other Features: Picture saturation & lightness can be changed when running the wizard.

    Sound/Audio: None
    Picture Information: None
    Transition Effects: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    AlbumNow is a cumbersome and limited capability slide show program. The broken English within the "help file" doesn't help. On top of that, clicking the Wizard's View button causes a program crash (I'm running WinXP SP2). (This implementation appears to be inspired by the highly regarded IrfanView picture viewer.)


    go back Canon ZoomBrowser EX 3.2 (Canon - www.canon.com - Free - Packaged with Canon digital cameras)

    Program Overview: The Canon Zoombrowser is a program that comes with the purchase of a Canon camera. It has some nice aspects of picture browsing.

    Picture Set Selection: Before you can look at a folder containing picture files, you have to register it. Apparently this folder and its pictures are then put within a database. This process also includes generating thumbnails of all the pictures in the selected folder. These thumbnails are then displayed within the application window.

    Picture Ordering: You may set the display order to be by name, type, or date (ascending or descending).

    Size & Positioning: The main display window can be resized and repositioned.

    By selecting a set of thumbnails, you can show a slide show of these pictures. While you can go forward or backward (by mouse click or arrow keys), you can't go to the first or last picture, nor can you go to an arbitrary picture.

    Pan & Zoom: The slide show has no pan or zoom capability. Neither does the directly viewed picture.

    Slide Show: Selecting View | Slideshow begins a full-screen slide show. But the only control is forward, reverse, and pause.

    Transition Effects: There are about 32 slide show picture transitions (Canon calls them wipes) to choose from .

    Captioning: Picture captioning consists of a title and comments. Note that this data is stored in a proprietary database - it is not EXIF data. During the slide show, the title will appear in small text below and to the left of the picture. It cannot be repositioned.

    Picture Information: If you select a picture and ask for its properties, you will get a complete set of its camera settings, but other EXIF data (such as the full ImageDescription) may not be present.

    Sound/Audio: While you can attach a sound file to a picture (via its custom database), the sound file unfortunately does not play when the slide show is displaying the picture. To hear the sound, you have to select its thumbnail, right-click it, and select Play Sound.

    Other Features: If you double-click an image, you see it in a separate large window. There you can adjust such settings as color, brightness, or contrast. You can also crop the picture.

    Printing: In order to print one or more pictures, you need a separate program called PhotoRecord

    Orientation Changes: None.
    Wallpaper: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    While Canon ZoomBrowser EX has a visually pleasing interface, and is free to Canon camera owners, its lack of flexible picture browsing (no pan and zoom, weak captioning) is a significant drawback.


    go back CodedColor PhotoStudio Pro 4.1.2.9 (1STEIN - www.codedcolor.com - $39.00)

    Program Overview: A full-featured program for the experienced user. It is very strong in picture information abilities, particularly EXIF and IPTC data. Image editing is also extensive.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 30-day trial.

    Picture Set Selection: CodedColor opens in a 4 pane window that is sized to the display screen:

    1. Upper-left pane: Windows Explorer (folder My Pictures is initially selected)
    2. Lower-left pane: File and EXIF data
    3. Upper-right pane: Strip of thumbnails of the pictures in the selected folder (the first is initially selected)
    4. Lower-right pane: Picture display pane: A large version of the selected thumbnail is displayed

    Picture Ordering: Ordering can be by Name, Size, Type, Date, and Description, in ascending or descending order. There is also "Custom Sorting", but this option renames the files to obtain the custom sort. Therefore, there is no true manual sorting.

    Picture Selection: Pictures are selected by clicking on their thumbnail within the thumbnail pane. The thumbnails optionally may have a caption below them, which can be one of filename, title or filename, file size, file date, record id, or image information.

    There is also a "Search" facility which can search for words in this data associated with a picture: Filepath, Title, Description, Keywords, IPTC, EXIF. Up to three AND/OR phrases may be used.

    Size & Positioning: The picture display pane may be resized, but it always is contained within the application window, which is somewhat of a size limitation. If you double-click on a thumbnail, that picture is shown in slide show mode, which is full-screen.

    Pan & Zoom: A left-click of the mouse zooms in. A right-click of the mouse zooms out. Dragging the left mouse button pans the zoomed view. When zoomed in, the upper-left corner of the picture shows the full picture in a small window with the zoom-in area shown as a red box, an unusual touch. If you drag the left mouse button in this small window, it will create a boxed area that will be shown in the main window! There doesn't seem to be an ability to do a fit-zoom, either with the mouse or keyboard, an unusual shortcoming. But the mouse wheel does a zoom-in and zoom-out.

    Orientation Changes: Pictures can be rotated left and right, and can be flipped horizontally (but not vertically).

    Slide Show: Click on icon Screenshow, and you begin a full-screen slide show beginning with that picture (if no pictures are selected). If some pictures are selected, only those pictures are shown in the slide show. If there is no mouse movement for several seconds, the overlayed controls disappear. The control abilities are:

    • the left mouse button causes a zoom-in
    • the right mouse button causes a zoom-out
    • the mouse wheel causes a move to another picture
    • a pop-up menu icon lets you do a best-fit
    • the pop-up menu lets you access Options | Slideshow where you can specify:
      • Autoplay fliptime in seconds
      • Transition Duration
      • whether slides should be played in random order
      • whether to "Show Image Title Bar": Auto, Always, or Never
    Note that the Image Title Bar also shows the controls. The default is "Auto", making it disappear after a few seconds, and reappear when the mouse is moved.

    Sound/Audio: An audio file can be associated with a picture file (both must have the same name), but of course with a different type, and the audio file will play when it's picture is displayed. There is no ability to specify a background audio file.

    Picture Information: Very complete and accurate EXIF information is displayed, including multiline Image Description data. The only other program to do that is PicViewPlus. Strangely, EXIF tag Artist/Photographer is missing. On top of that, it is possible to edit such textual tags as Image Description. Almost no other programs have that feataure. For some reason, tag User Comment can't be edited. But to be really picky, GPS information is also missing. An extra nice feature is that you can keep the File Information pane up while you browse from picture to picture, making it easy to compare this data.

    The same can be said of the IPTC capability - it appears to be very complete. In addition, the program keeps its own database of information.

    Captioning: The title, date, and filename of the picture get displayed in small yellow text at the bottom of the picture during slide show mode. There is no way to change any of this captioning information.

    Transition Effects: There are transition effects in slide show mode, but there is no way to control them.

    Wallpaper: The picture background cannot be changed.

    Printing: Printing is fairly basic: you can print a single picture per page, or a contact sheet. The single picture can be set to various sizes, and printed at various positions on the page. But it cannot be rotated for a better fit (although the Properties of the printer can be switched from Portrait to Landscape mode). There are no layouts to choose from, and no textual information is included on the print. A contact sheet of all pictures may also be printed. In this case, a Header (top left) and Footer (bottom left) is printed along with a picture title (top right), which consissts of the picture filename. Surprisingly, the pictures are printed one per page! You can ask for a preview, but if you don't like it there is no way to cancel the request.

    Simulated Frames: There are no simulated picture frames.

    Other Features:

    • Batch conversion operations are available.
    • Batch renames can be done.
    • About 20 brushes and 20 textures are available for editing.
    • Prints can be ordered.
    • Web Albums, based upon HTML and using Javascript, can be made.
    • A Self-Executable Archive that is an EXE and runs on a web browser, can be made.
    • Images can be edited, using such tools as:
      • SmartFix
      • Exposure
      • Color
      • Sharpness
      • Curves
      • Noise
      • Paint
      • Retouch
      • Fill
      • Clone
      • Eraser
      • Equalization
      • Watermarks
      • RedEye
      • Effects
      • Improve

    Problems: Insufficient documentation (e.g., no documentation on attaching sound to a picture, or on background sound). Suggesting a user "experiment" to find out how the program works is often not a good idea.

    After aborting a Print Preview by exiting the program and then restarting, operation was never quite normal. I often got the following error messages:

    • "mciPlay: A problem occurred in initializing MCI"
    • TIEditor1.NextPrevCmd: Scan line index out of range
    • The program hung when I clicked on "?" (Help)

    CodedColor PhotoStudio Pro is one of the most feature-packed picture viewing programs available. It has good pan and zoom capability, picture sound, and outstanding EXIF and IPTC picture information, which can be edited. On the downside, it is very weak in captioning and printing, and it has no simulated picture frames. Its interface tends to be somewhat complex, and is sometimes unstable. Finally, it is weak on documentation, and assumes the user will learn by experimentation.

    Other Reviews:


    go back CompuPic 6.23 (PHOTODEX Corp. - www.fotodex.com - $39.95)

    Program Overview: CompuPic is a good picture browsing program that also includes such things as batch operations, contact sheet printing, and screen saver creation. When used for picture display, it's primary screen contains three window panes, one of which contains the thumbnails in your selected picture folder. Double-click a thumbnail, and you can browse your picture(s) in full-screen (or a resizable window) mode. To show your pictures with sound and transitions, you have to go into "slide show" mode.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: No limitations, 15-day trial.

    Picture Set Selection: CompuPic opens with a 3-pane application window: a "Folders" windows in the upper-left, a "Preview" window in the lower-left, and a folder content window in the right side of the screen. Use the Folders pane to browse to the folder holding the pictures you want to view. CompuPic will build their thumbnails and display them in the right pane.

    Picture Ordering: A huge number of automatic sort options is available (e.g., name, size, date, type), with both forward and reverse sorting. But there is no ability to manully sort the pictures.

    Picture Selection: In the Viewer window, or in Slide Show mode, you can select pictures via these keyboard keys: Home to go to the first picture, End to go to the last picture, Page Down to go the next picture, or Page Up to go to the previous picture. When not in Slide Show mode, you can use the mouse to go to the Next or Previous picture.

    Size & Positioning: The main program window can be resized and repositioned. It's panes can also be resized and repositioned. Pictures are usually browsed within the "Viewer" window, which is separate from the main program window. This Viewer window can be either a normal window, which can be resized and moved, or it can be full-size, where it cannot be resized or repositioned.

    Pan & Zoom: There is good pan and zoom capability, but there are so many options here that it becomes confusing. A Zoom-In and Zoom-Out icon do a 10% zoom to the picture center. This zoom value is too small to be useful. The "Instant Zoom" is cute, but not very practical. Forget those and use the icons Magnify Mode and Pan mode. After you click Magnify Mode, you can click on any point within the picture to zoom in to it (shift-click zooms out). You can also drag the cursor to do a box zoom. After you click Pan mode, you can use the "hand" icon to do panning. Pressing the number keys will also zoom (e.g., 8 give an 8 to 1 zoom), but that's another case of bloatware. The keyboard "F" key provides a fit-to-screen, a function so necessary it needs to be available via the mouse.

    Orientation Changes: Pictures can be rotated clockwise, counterclockwise, and flipped horizontally or vertically. Pictures can also be rotated in 1 degree increments.

    Slide Show: You might think that "Viewer" mode (where Double-clicking a thumbnail brings up the picture "Viewer" window) is the same as Slide Show mode, but it is not. Slide Show mode is entirely separate, and includes transition effects and plays audio files with the pictures. It cycles through selected thumbnails (or all pictures if none are selected).

    Unfortunately, you can't use the mouse to control the slide show. There is no way to skip to an arbitrary picture. But you can use the keyboard to advance to the next picture (Spacebar or Page Down). Likewise, key Page Up goes back one. Key Home skips to the first picture, and ken End skips to the last picture. But these keys are inoperative if a sound file is playing.

    Sound/Audio: Audio files that are named similarly to a picture file will be played, but only in "slide show" mode. There is no ability to specify both background and foreground audio files.

    Picture Information: To see image information, right-click the thumbnail and select Properties. Picture file information and resolution are listed. Picture EXIF information is also listed, but with these problems:

    1. "Image title" has insufficient display room, but the display window can't be resized
    2. "Person who created the image" often had the trailing text corrupted
    3. "User comments" were repeated in various forms, multiple times
    4. There was no way to update any of this data
    5. Camera data was often not fully decoded (e.g, Flash, File source, Scene type)

    Captioning: None. The only exception is that the filename of a picture may be displayed along with the picture during a "slide show".

    Transition Effects: There are over 100 transition effects, but they are only available in "slide show mode". All effects may be selected, or only those selected. In short, CompuPic has outstanding transition effects, unequaled by any other program.

    Wallpaper: The viewer background color may be set, but the method for changing it didn't provide much flexibility (no menu of color selections).

    Printing: The print capability is somewhat crude in that there are no layouts from which to select. So if you select 4 pictures, they will require 4 pages - one picture per page. However, on each page you may specify a header and footer. A nice feature is that the picture on each page had edit handles, allowing you to move and resize the picture. Almost no other picture display programs have that particular feature.

    The exception here is that a Picture Index may be created. This is just a "contact sheet" of pictures, meaning that all pictures are printed in a grid, all having the same size. A header and footer can optionally be specified, as well as a background color.

    Simulated Frames: There is no ability to display simulated picture frames.

    Other Features:

    • A "Maxi show" is like a slide show, but shows multiple pictures at once
    • Tip of the Day
    • Can make a screen saver
    • You can search for files by filename (using wildcarding) or keyword
    • Batch conversions, including renames, can be done
    • The Picture Index may be sent to a file
    • Can create Web Page Indexes
    • Can create a Picture Greeting card
    • Can use PictureCD.com, PhotoIsland.com or Fotki.com to upload your pictures to a photo sharing website
    • Can use BigNose to order a professionally printed poster of your picture
    • Can use AmazingMail to print your picture on a postcard and have it sent to friends, family, or business contacts
    • Can use Printroom.com to have your pictures professionally printed

    CompuPic has some great features (transitions, web operations, picture viewing), but also has some big limitations (EXIF picture data, lack of captioning). But it definitely is worth looking into.

    Other Reviews:


    go back Easy Imager 2.0 (Fookes Software, Switzerland - www.fookes.com/ezimager - $34.95)

    Program Overview: Easy Imager is a picture processing utility that 1) Displays pictures, 2) Batch processes pictures, and 3) Makes web albums.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 30-day trial.

    Picture Set Selection: When started, the program's window is split into a left pane and a right pane. The left pane is a sort of "utility" pane that can be used for various purposes, and is initialized to a Windows Explorer view on top and a thumbnails view of folder content on the bottom. This is similar to other picture viewing programs. The right pane shows the thumbnail at a larger size, either as an "Original Image" (scaled 1:1) or a "Preview" (all of the picture shown at a small size).

    Picture Ordering: There is no way to order the picture files.

    Picture Selection: In the main application window, icons are available to moving to the First, Previous, Next, and Last pictures. Double-click a thumbnail, and a large window (85% of full screen) will open showing the full picture. However, this window is really just Microsoft's Windows Picture and Fax Viewer application! Hence, its only picture navigation buttons are Previous and Next.

    You can search for a picture by its filename, text, or keyword. To do this, select menu item Source - Disk Folders | Search. But when I tried this, it didn't seem to work.

    Size & Positioning: The main application window can be resized and repositioned. It's internal panes can be resized. And of course the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer window can be resized and repositioned.

    Pan & Zoom: In the main application window, a "+" zoom icon can be used to zoom in to the center of the picture. Likewise, a "-" zoom icon can be used to zoom out from the center of the picture. Both of these operations are available via a right-mouse-click selection. There is no way to zoom to a specific point on the picture by using the mouse. Instead, you zoom to the center, and then use the scroll bars to pan. There is no other way to pan.

    Of course, if you double-click a thumbnail, you can use the zoom and pan tools available in the Windows Picture and Fax Viewer.

    Orientation Changes: The picture can be rotated left or right. The picture can only be flipped horizontally or vertically via a batch operation.

    Slide Show: There is no ability to display a timed slide show.

    Sound/Audio: There is no audio capability.

    Picture Information: Selecting menu item File | Properties brings up a system dialog box listing picture file properties. There is no way to list the EXIF information within a picture. A Title, Keywords, and Description is associated with each picture, but it is stored in a non-standard text file in the picture folder, called "descript.ion". This information is used when build a Web Album.

    Captioning: Caption text can be specified if entered under Image Conversion | Text Stamp. You can set the position, font, color, and background of this text. However, this caption only appears on the Preview window, and while you can enter multiple lines, they all get converted to one line. Furthermore, the picture in the Preview window is of low resolution, as the the displayed caption.

    In the set of sample pictures supplied, there are three text areas under the picture displayed in the Original Image tab: Title, Keywords, and Description. All of this text for each picture is stored in the picture folder, within the file named "descript.ion". This annotation method makes it difficult to move or share pictures.

    Transition Effects: None available.

    Wallpaper: No capability to change it.

    Printing: There is no ability to print pictures from within the program.

    Simulated Frames: No simulated picture frame capability.

    Other Features: Tab Web Album lets you build a web album. The thumbnails contain the picture Title. Click on a thumbnail and a picture that fills much of the screen appears. This picture contains the Title on top of the picture, and the description on the bottom. Use the Template tab to assist you in building web pages.

    Tab Image Conversion lets you change the characteristics of a whole set of pictures as one batch job. But it's puzzling that you can't see your changes in real-time first, so that you really don't know what image corrections to set it up to do, unless its obvious, such as image rotations.

    Problems: When I was checking out the ability to set a caption, the program crashed with an Access violation.

    Easy Imager is only a fair picture viewing program. Instead, its picture viewing capability seems mainly set up to support its batch image conversion process and its Web Album builder.

    Other Reviews:


    go back EZ-Pix 7.02 (Xequte Software - www.xequte.com/ezpix/index.html - $19.70)

    Program Overview: EZ-Pix is an image viewer and editor. It has a streamlined interface and is easy to use.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Nag screen, only 8 favorite folders, can't create HTML indices.

    Picture Set Selection: Begin by selecting a folder of picture files to view.

    Picture Ordering: You may sort them by name, date, type, or size, in ascending or descending order. But you can't select the order of the individual pictures yourself.

    Size & Positioning: EX-Pix opens in a window with 3 panes. the panes resize with the window, and can also be individually resized. The upper-left pane displays the system folders and sub-folders, while the lower left pane displays the thumbnails in the selected folder. Click on one of these thumbnails, and its picture displays in the right-side pane, with a best fit to the pane size. By clicking on the thumbnails, it's easy to browse among the pictures.

    The thumbnail pane can be switched to a simple picture filename list, or smaller thumbnails with some picture file information.

    Slide Show: You can do a slide show either in window mode or full screen mode. The picture display window can be set to display only one picture at a time, or a set of thumbnail-sized pictures. Alternatively, you can display pictures in full-screen mode.

    Picture Selection: Select the next picture to display by clicking on buttons First, Next, Previous, and Last. In windows mode you can select the picture by its thumbnail.

    Pan & Zoom: There is a zoom in and a zoom out tool, (or use the "+" or "-" keys) but its reference point is always the center of the picture. Panning (via the mouse "hand" icon) is easy.

    Picture Information: There is a way to add a description to a file, but the only way you can see it is to click on the information icon (or type "i") when the picture is displayed. There is no hint that a picture contains such annotation. Other than that, the only other information is the file size, number of colors, and file type.

    Other Features: The program does include a number of picture editing abilities, such as resize and crop. Copy, rename, and delete are also supported.

    Orientation Changes: Rotate and flip are available.

    Printing: The currently displayed picture can be printed, or the set of thumbnails can be printed.

    Transition Effects: None.
    Sound/Audio: None.
    Captioning: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    EZ-Pix is a basic picture display program, but what it does, it seems to do well. It's major limitations are the lack of picture information, flexible captioning, and sound capability.

    This program is very similar to FocusViewer.

    Other Reviews:


    go back FastStone Image Viewer 1.7 (FastStone Soft. - www.faststone.org/FSViewerDetail.htm - Freeware)

    Program Overview: An image browser, viewer, converter and editor that supports many graphic formats. Other features include a batch image converter / resizer, a full-screen image viewer with extensive pan-zoom support, and a slideshow with 60+ transitional effects. Upon startup, a "Mouse & Keyboard Gesture" window displays, explaining how the keyboard and mouse control the program.

    Picture Set Selection: Like so many other picture display programs, the main program screen is divided up into three panes:

    • Upper-left pane: A Windows Explorer pane to select a pictue folder
    • Right pane: Folder content pane, showing picture thumbnails
    • Lower-left pane: Preview pane, showing the selected thumbnail in a larger size

    Picture Ordering: Picture ordering is done in "Report View" mode, where you can sort by filename, type, dimension, size or date. Each sort can be done in forward or reverse order. But no manual sorting can be done.

    Picture Selection: It can be done by thumbnail, even in full-screen mode (move the mouse to the top of the window, causing a row of thumbnails to appear - then select one). The Space key, Page Down, or the right arrow cause an advance to the next picture. The Backspace key, Page Up, or the left arrow cause the previous picture to show. The Home key causes a move to the first picture, while the End key causes a move to the last picture. To use the mouse to navigate, right-click the picture and select Navigate To, followed by First, Previous, Next, or Last.

    Size & Positioning: The program window can be resized and repositioned. But large pictures are normally browsed in full-screen mode.

    Pan & Zoom: Zooms are very different from other programs. In full-screen mode, pressing the left mouse button shows you a zoomed area around the button press (called a "magnifier"). This zoomed area can be dragged around. But to permanently zoom in, either use key "+", or right-click and select Zoom | Zoom In. Once zoomed in, pressing the left mouse button now performs a pan operation. To do a best fit, right-click the picture and select Zoom | Best Fit. To do a box zoom, press the Control key and drag the left mouse button. To do a zoom to a point, press the Shift key and click on a point.

    Orientation Changes: A picture can be rotated left or right, flipped horizontally or vertically.

    Slide Show: Double-click a picture to go into full-screen slide show mode. The following parameters are associated with this mode, and can be set:

    • The picture display time (in seconds)
    • The size of the picture (in pixels)
    • Whether the pictures should be shown in random order
    • Whether transition effects should be used
    • Whether the slide show should repeat
    Strangely, even when you specify that the "full screen" should be used to display the pictures, small pictures are never sized up to fit the screen. This makes the size seem to "bounce" around a lot. When it comes across a picture which it can't display, a red "X" is drawn on the center of the screen.

    Sound/Audio: There is no audio capability.

    Picture Information: If you right-click a thumbnail and select File Properties you will see a Windows Explorer Properties window. If you right-click a thumbnail and select Image Properties, you will see some file properties (name, size, location, date) and a subset of the EXIF Metadata (e.g., camera make, model, exposure) within the picture (why they don't show it all is a mystery). If you right-click a thumbnail and select Image Description/Comment, you will see a "Description/Comment" dialog box. It's important to note that this is somewhat erroneous, in that this is really the EXIF tag User Comment and not EXIF tag Image Description. There could easily be confusion here when working with other programs that access this data. The good news is that this data can, in fact, be edited. Very few programs have this feature.

    Captioning: The only captioning is that the picture filename and path is drawn across the top of the picture in small green text. It's position, color, and size cannot be changed.

    Transition Effects: There are 60 transition effects, but there is no control over them.

    Wallpaper: The picture background color may be set.

    Printing: Printing ability is somewhat crude. There are no layouts to select from - one picture is printed per page. It can't be rotated for best fit, but it's position on the page can be changed. There is no ability to include a caption, header, footer, or page count number.

    Simulated Frames: There is no ability to print simulated picture frames.

    Other Features:

    • skimpy Help and documentation
    • pictures can be resized and cropped
    • many editing operations are available
    • many effects can be added to the picture
    • batch conversion can be done
    • batch renames can be done
    • nine different "skins" may be used to change the appearance

    FastStone Image Viewer has a more interesting appearance that other similar picture display programs. It has excellent pan and zoom capabilities, as well as excellent browsing ability. It also can read and write some EXIF picture data. Unfortunately, thats where it ends, and it has few of the other major features needed to make it a truly great picture display program.

    Other Reviews:


    go back Firehand Ember 7 (Firehand Technologies Corp. - www.firehand.com - Shareware - $34.95)

    Program Purpose: Firehand Ember features both picture editing and viewing.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 30-day free trial, or 30 evaluation sessions.

    Picture Set Selection: To begin, select a folder of picture files. The thumbnails for each of these pictures will then be generated and displayed. Thumbnail generation is very fast. You can change the size and spacing of them.

    Picture Ordering: There is no way to reorder the pictures.

    Slide Show: "File Gallery" begins the slide show.

    Size & Positioning: The slide show runs in full-screen mode. You can also browse a selected photo in a window whose size you choose.

    Picture Selection: In slide show mode, the only picture navigation is forward (forward arrow) and backward (back arrow). When not in slide show mode, double left click a thumbnail to fill the screen with it. Unfortunately, since the default scale is 1:1, you will see only part of a large image. In that case, zoom out. When in browse mode, there seems to be no way to select another picture.

    You can search for a picture by it's filename, using wildcarding.

    Pan & Zoom: No pan and zoom in slide show mode, but otherwise you use the "+" key or Left-click to zoom in (limited), and use the "-" key or control-left-click to zoom out. The four arrow keys pan the image. Compared to thumbnail generation, zooming for some reason is relatively slow.

    Orientation Changes: You can rotate left or right, and flip horizontally or vertically.

    Picture Information: Picture EXIF data is nicely displayed, except that only the camera data is displayed. The important textual description tags of ImageDescription and UserComments for some reason are totally missing. And what EXIF there is, is only available when you right click on the image and then select Properties (or Alt-Enter). There is no way to change the EXIF data.

    Captioning: You can place text of any content, size, font, and color, anywhere on the picture. The problem is that this text then becomes a permanent part of the picture.

    Transition Effects: There are no transition effects.

    Sound/Audio: There is no sound capability (except that every mouse click has a sound effect associated with it). These are available with the "Display Xtension Add-In for Ember" (at $34.95). But there is no downloadable evaluation version of them to check out.

    Printing: One or more thumbnails can be selected for printing, and they can be printed within the number of rows and columns you specify. A header and footer can be specified, along with limited picture file information.

    Wallpaper: The "wallpaper" feature implies putting a picture on your desktop.

    Simulated Frames: None

    Other Features: You can convert files, rename files, copy files, and move files. Photo editing tools are also available. But when I tried sharpen and blur, it took awhile, and I noticed no visible effect, even at the extreme settings.

    Firehand Ember is only an average picture viewer. The "Display Xtension" improves its capabilities somewhat, but at a cost that makes it much more expensive than any other picture viewer out there. Its non-invasive captioning and its picture-to-picture movements are drawbacks.

    Other Reviews:


    go back FlipAlbum 5 Standard 5.5 (E-Book Systems - www.ebooksys.com/ebooksys/products/flipalbum_standard.php or www.flipalbum.com - $19.95 (box) $17.95 (download))

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 30-day free trial.

    Program Overview: FlipAlbum's chief attraction is the well-done graphics which it uses to simulate a real photo album, including a page-turning sound effect.

    You begin by specifying a directory of picture files that you want included in the "album" (picture collection) that it maintains. This album contains a "contents" page and ends with an "index" page. Both use the picture filename for picture identification. You can drag-and-drop thumbnails to reorder the pages.

    Picture Selection: You can "page" through the album picture by picture. Or you can go to an arbitrary page by its page number or by clicking on its thumbnail. You can also locate a page by its annotation.

    Big pictures are fit to the page, but smaller pictures are not expanded to fit the page (zoom factor never exceeds 1). Since by default, two "pages" of the album are always displayed, the picture you see is limited in size. There are two ways around this. One, right-click the picture and select "preview" - the screen will display the full sized picture. The other way is to right-click the page and select "centerfold" display, either for that specific page or for the entire album.

    Pan & Zoom: Surprisingly, there is no pan or zoom mode.

    Captioning: Picture captioning is present, but in a crude form, consisting of black text overlying the bottom portion of the picture. Some picture content can make this text almost unreadable. The caption you specify is separately maintained by FlipAlbum - it is not contained within the picture, as EXIF information is.

    Picture Information: It is possible to right-click on the picture and select "Information". The information you get is general file information, with one exception: Under "Camera", it attempts to get the picture EXIF ImageDescription tag, but the display form used truncates this information. And while you have the ability to add this information to the picture, you must include ALL of it (about 8 lines), some of which is over the picture and some of which is under the picture. Again that part over the picture may be unreadable due to picture content.

    Transition Effects: Interestingly, the nature of this program implies its own transition effect (page flipping).

    Sound/Audio: If a picture has an accompanying sound file, the picture and sound file are displayed separately, with the sound file having the visual appearance of a musical note. If you right-click the note and select "play", the sound file will play. Unfortunately, you can't play the sound file while it's picture is being displayed. Finally, you CAN specify the playing of a background sound file (or files) while the entire album is being displayed.

    Simulated Frames: Borders can be used.

    Wallpaper: Themes can be used.

    Printing: The entire photo album or selected pages can be printed.

    Slide Show: The pages can be set to advance automatically. A photo album can be sent to others for sharing.

    Orientation Changes: Pictures may be rotated.

    Size & Positioning: Pictures may be resized and repositioned.

    FlipAlbum is targeted to the user who is chiefly interested in a traditional photo album look.

    Other Reviews:


    go back FocusViewer 2.1 (Yutao Peng - www.focussoft.net/Viewer.html - Free)

    Program Overview: FocusViewer displays and edits pictures, and can also send them out for prints.

    FocusViewer opens in a window which has three panes. You begin in pane 1 (top-left) by selecting a folder containing picture files you wish to process. The thumbnails of those folder picture files are generated and displayed in pane 2 (right side of window). Selecting one of these thumbnails causes a larger picture to be displayed in pane 3 (lower-left). Each pane can be resized, and you can show any one of the panes individually.

    Picture Selection: Click on a thumbnail to randomly select a picture, or on the menu bar icons Prev or Next. The keyboard Home key brings you to the first picture, while the keyboard End key brings you to the last picture.

    Size & Positioning: If the application window is resized, the viewer pane is scaled appropriately. You also have the option of only showing the view pane, which will scale to the application window.

    Orientation Changes: The picture may be rotated left or right, but not flipped.

    Slide Show: Slide Show simply causes a timed advance of the pictures.

    Picture Information: If you mouseover the extreme left of the picture/Viewer pane, a picture EXIF information list will appear. This EXIF data is some of the most accurate and complete of any picture viewing program! There are only minor problems and one major issue. The two minor problems are that both the Image description and User comment tags have a limited display area. Multiline tag information is compressed to a single line. Therefore long and/or multiline data will not be correctly displayed. The major issue is that none of these tags can be edited.

    On a more positive note, this EXIF information pane can be kept up while one browses a set of pictures. Almost no other programs that display EXIF data allow that.

    Printing: You can print one picture per page, in landscape or portrait mode, justifying it in any position. The picture filename is printed alongside the picture. You may also print a "contact" sheet which contains 6 pictures per page, along with a header and footer. Each picture has it's filename printed under it.

    Wallpaper: This function actually makes the selected picture be your desktop wallpaper, and does not generate a background for your displayed pictures. The default is to have Calendar clicked, but when I did, I constantly got an Access Violation when clicking OK.

    Other Features: You can also edit the selected image (e.g., rotate left, rotate right, crop adjust brightness, contrast, sharpness) as well as applying special effects (e.g., add noise, emboss).

    Pan & Zoom: None
    Sound/Audio: None
    Captioning: None
    Transition Effects: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    FocusViewer, in spite of its claim to be "full featured", is a basic picture file browser and editor with limited features. But it is easy to use and has excellent capability for displaying a picture's EXIF information. This program is very similar to EZ-Pix.

    Other Reviews:


    go back FotoAlbum Pro 4.6.1 (FotoTime Inc. - www.fototime.com/pages/features_fotoalbum_pro - Shareware - $29.95)

    Program Overview: FotoAlbum Professional allows you to easily organize, view, edit, print and share your digital pictures and videos. With little effort you can retrieve pictures and videos from your digital camera, add them to albums or groups, sync to the FotoTime website and share them with family or friends. In addition you can print high quality prints using your own printer or allow us to print them for you and deliver them directly to anyone you wish.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 21-day trial period.

    Picture Set Selection: You begin by selecting a folder of picture files.

    Picture Ordering: Files may be automatically sorted by date, name, size, or type, in ascending or descending order. In addition, they may be manually sorted by dragging and dropping thumbnails.

    Size & Positioning: The initial windows comes up "window max", but can be resized. The slide show is done in full-screen mode.

    Pan & Zoom: In full-screen slide show mode, there is no pan and zoom available.

    Orientation Changes: There is rotate right, rotate left, flip horizontal, and flip vertical.

    Slide Show: When you double-click a thumbnail, a full-screen slide show begins.

    Picture Selection: Picture selection in slide show mode is by buttons Next and Previous. You can't go to the first or last, or to a specific picture.

    When you create a slide show, you have the option of selecting the caption position (above or below the picture), font face, size, and color. You can also choose bold, italics, or underline.

    Sound/Audio: There is no sound/audio. But you may specify a background audio file for packaged slide shows.

    Picture Information: Information about the picture is obtained by calling for the Picture Properties, which consists of properties:

    • Picture: Caption, Keywords, Date, Time
    • File Details: File Format, Picture ID, Filename, folder, Filesize, CRC, File modification date, File creation date
    • Embedded Data: Full set of EXIF picture data: Description, User Comment, Date Time Original, Copyright Notice, Artist, X & Y resolution, Camera Make, Camera Model, Software, etc
    • Web Settings: Publish to Web settings, Reduce picture on web (JPEG)
    • Albums: Albums and groups that contain this picture
    • Archive: Archives that contain this picture (Archive Date and Name)

    Captioning: In full-screen slide show mode you can click in the caption area below the picture and enter a multi-line caption. However, this caption text can reference no external (e.g., EXIF) data.

    Transition Effects: There are no transition effects.

    Wallpaper: The picture background wallpaper is an unchangable solid gray in a "real time" slide show, and black in a "packaged" slide show.

    Printing: You can use the built-in print procedure or call out to Microsoft's Printer Wizard. The built-in procedure offers about a dozen layouts. However, you have no choice as to what picture goes in what layout box, and what orientation is to be used for each picture. Also, the specified caption is not printed on the picture. In fact, there is no option to print any text on the picture.

    Simulated Frames: There is no ability to to simulate picture frames.

    Other Features:

    • Editing ability includes: cropping, color/brightness, and contrast adjustment.
    • Can create a screen saver.
    • Can order prints from FotoTime.
    • Can create FotoAlbum CD's.
    • Several dozen picture formats are supported.
    • Editing is done by calling external tools.

    Issues:

    1. While other picture display programs seemed to have trouble reading my folder of test pictures, PhotoAlbum Pro pulled them all in without a problem. But it did go and read the pictures in subfolders without asking.
    2. Never was able to update the EXIF information, although the program claimed I should be able to do so (the procedure was very awkward).
    3. I created a Foto CD and verified that it had a good set of pictures on it. But when I put it into the CD reader, FotoAlbum came up with a blank screen. I never could get the slide show to play.
    4. The Create Slide Show option crashed the program when I selected the option to review the slide show (it had just played the specified background audio file). It automatically sends a log file back, but that hung. In a second attempt, without audio, I did get a slide show. But it only occupied some 60% of a black screen. The slide show only had Next and Previous controls.

    PhotoAlbum Pro tries to be a slide show program both for real-time viewing, packaged slide shows, and web page display. While it has some nice features, it doesn't excel in any of these areas, and in fact has some occasional serious problems.

    Other Reviews:


    go back Fresh View 4.00 (Freshdevices - www.freshdevices.com/freshview.html - Free to home users)

    Program Overview: FreshView is a multimedia browser that is small and fast, with strong and rich functionality. Its intuitive user interface makes it very to navigate and operate.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Free to home users, but still must register after 23 days.

    Picture Set Selection: When you first run the progrm, the blank screen is confusing since there is no menu option to select a folder of picture files. Click the tool bar back arrow (up a folder). Then use the directory structure in the left pane to select a folder of pictures. Their thumbnails will appear in the right pane.

    Picture Ordering: There is no way to reorder the pictures.

    Picture Selection: Click a thumbnail to have a larger version of it appear within the "Image Viewer" (right pane).

    Size & Positioning: The program window can be moved and resized. The Image Viewer pane can be resized.

    Pan & Zoom: None.

    Orientation Changes: None.

    Slide Show: Click the projection screen icon to begin a slide show of the pictures in the thumbnails area. The display time can be set. The pictures can be shown in the thumbnails window order, or in random order. Once the slide show starts, there is no way to control the display order.

    Transition Effects: There appear to be over 100 transition effects. You may select all, some, or none.

    Sound/Audio: None.

    Picture Information: Right-click on a thumbnail or the Viewer window, and select Image Properties to see a very limited list of picture properties - picture dimensions, size, type, file name, etc. If you select File Properties instead, you will see the standard system file properties dialog box.

    Captioning: None.

    Wallpaper: The Viewer can have their backgrounds set, but only to solid colors.

    Printing: After selecting the pictures you want printed, click the Print icon. You then have a layout choice of 1, 2, 3, 4, 6, 8 pictures per page. Or you can make a contact print (full page of thumbnail-sized pictures). Finally, selection custom lets you specify the number of rows and columns of pictures. The resultant picture is captioned underneath by picture data information (name, path, size, date).

    There is no way to specify orientation or clipping. There is no way to selectively place pictures on the page. There is no way to make some pictures big and some small.

    Simulated Frames: None.

    Other Features:

    • File operations Copy, move, rename, and delete may be done.
    • Change the type of a file.
    • Makes an HTML album.

    Freshview is a very basic slide show program. Its strengths are that it is free and it has a huge number of transition effects. Its weaknesses are that its slide show is uncontrollable during presentation, there is no picture caption ability, no way to rotate or flip pictures, no pan or zoom ability, and no way to reorder the pictures. Unfortunately, the fractured English in the Help text detracts further.

    Other Reviews:


    go back Photo Album 5 (Jasc Software - www.jasc.com/products/photoalbum - $29.00 boxed, $27.00 download)

    Program Overview: Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album 5 (alias "Image Expert", "Jasc After Shot"), is used to "organize, enhance, create, and share" picture files. It offers an extensive array of photo tools.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 30-days.

    Picture Ordering: The display order can be by Name, Date, Size, Type, or you can designate a specific order by dragging and dropping the thumbnail images (with a nice graphic effect).

    Picture Selection: While in slide show mode (Quick Show), the only control available is Previous, Next, or Pause.

    Pan & Zoom: While in slide show mode, there is no pan or zoom. While in "Enhance" mode, however, you can zoom with a mouse click, and pan by dragging a hand cursor.

    Orientation Changes: It can rotate left, rotate right, rotate at an arbitrary angle, flip horizontal, and flip vertical.

    Picture Information: Folder tab Info displays information about the picture. Their Image Title and Image Description are right at the top. Image Title can only be one line, while Image Description can hold multiple lines. The problem is that this data is stored in a custom database.

    The picture information embedded within the picture is listed below that, under Details (this is actually EXIF tag data). Unfortunately, the tags are loosely labeled, since "Image Title" should really be "Image Description". Worse, any multi-line text is compressed to one brief string by eliminating all Return characters. Finally, there is no way to change this EXIF tag data!

    You may also add keywords, such as categories Location, Occasion, Photographer, and Subject. Each of these can have a sub-category. All this annotation is stored in a proprietary database.

    Captioning: If you define a picture Title, it replaces the file name which overlays the center bottom of the picture.

    If you define a Description, it optionally appears within a small window (with a yellow background). This window also contains the the picture advance controls and can be resized and moved, but its text can't have its font, size, or color changed.

    Slide Show: Clicking button Quick Show begins a full-screen slide show.

    Transition Effects: There are a variety of slide show transition effects. They can be enabled or disabled. They are randomly selected - you have no control over their selection.

    Sound/Audio: A sound file having the same name as a picture file (e.g., VIEW.JPG and VIEW.WAV) will cause it to be played while the picture is being displayed in a slide show. You can also specify a folder soundtrack.

    Unfortunately, if the length of the sound file exceeds the timed picture display, it does not pause the picture - successive pictures will be shown!

    Simulated Frames: Effects | Add Border adds a solid color border, of specified thickness, around the edge of the picture. The thickness appears to be in pixels, meaning a border of 20 will have a different apparent size on big pictures and small pictures.

    Effects | Add Picture Frame adds a simulated picture frame to the picture. But you have no control over the thickness. Furthermore, the frame is edited right into the picture, so you can't change your mind later as to what frame you want. There are five picture frames to choose from. (Compare all this to Picture Frames in PicViewPlus).

    Effects | Add Photo Edge adds a photo edge effect, such as album corner edges, torn edges, etc. There are 6 edge effects to chose from. Like before, there is no control over size and the original picture gets overwritten.

    Printing: Clicking on the Print icon controls what sort of prints you want to make on your printer. There are literally dozens of print templates available to choose from. For example, select template "Standard Sizes (inches)", and then item "3.5 x 5", and in Landscape mode there will be room for 4 prints. If you have three pictures selected, they will fit on that page to the proper size. By clicking on tab Adjust, you can tweek the picture to either "Fit to Frame" (no cropping) or "Fill Frame" (edges are cropped to fully fit). If you choose to crop the edges, you can use the Pan Tool to move the picture a bit in order to center your subject. You can also rotate any of the pictures for a better appearance.

    Finally, you can choose what picture goes in what template box.

    Wallpaper: None, except that in the context of the program, it can take a selected picture and place it as your desktop background.

    Other Features: Image Expert duplicates many features of the Windows operating system, such as sending e-mail, setting pictures as a screensaver or wallpaper, and calling other system programs. It also includes many image editing abilities.

    Jasc Paint Shop Photo Album 5 offers a large number of tools to work with picture files. However, by trying to be a Jack-of-all-trades, it suffers when it comes to being a top-notch picture display program. Specifically, it is weak on zooming, captioning, border effects, and working with some critical EXIF tag data. But it has simply outstanding capability when it comes to the flexible printing of pictures.

    Other Reviews:


    go back Futuris Imager 4.7.1 (Futurix Solutions - www.ukfog.com - Freeware)

    Program Overview: Futuris Imager supports many picture formats, including JPEG, JPEG2000, TIFF, PhotoCD, and Photoshop. Some of the other features are: customizable printing, screen capture, support for scanners and cameras, HEX viewer, and filters with undo. Also Futuris Imager includes a plug-in system, which allows third-party developers to extend the application.

    Picture Set Selection: The program opens with a blank screen. Use menu selection File | Open to select a folder of picture files.

    Picture Ordering: There is no ability whatsoever to sort pictures.

    Picture Selection: Picture selection is done with Back and Forward icons. There is no way to go to a particular picture. When you move to a new picture, it is displayed at a 1:1 scale, so that you only see the upper-left corner of big pictures.

    Size & Positioning: The picture being displayed occupies the entire application window.

    Pan & Zoom: Click on the Zoom in icon to zoom in to the upper left corner and Zoom out to zoom out from there (rather odd). Strangely, the Zoom icon performs a fit-to-screen. There is no mouse zoom ability. Panning is done with the mouse, via a "hand" icon.

    Orientation Changes: There is no way to rotate or flip the pictures.

    Slide Show: When a "slide show" is initiated, the picture time can be set. The three presentation orders are: Normal, Reverse, and Random. The pictures are always shown in a 1:1 scale, so you only see the upper-left corner of big pictures.

    Sound/Audio: There is no audio capability.

    Picture Information: Called File Info, the display is of the name, path, size and date of the picture file.

    Captioning: There is no caption ability.

    Transition Effects: There are no transition effects.

    Wallpaper: There is no ability to change the picture background.

    Printing: You can print a picture, but there are no printing options to choose from. Plus, the picture is printed in a small size in the middle of the page.

    Simulated Frames: There are no simulated picture frames.

    Other Features: Input can come from a digital camera. You can copy, move, delete, and rename a picture file. You can e-mail the picture, but the program would not let me leave the "To" field!

    Futuris Imager looks like the first cut by someone trying to build a picture display program. It is probably one of the worst picture display programs available and should be avoided.

    Other Reviews:


    go back IrfanView 3.95 (IrfanView - www.irfanview.com - Freeware)

    Program Overview: IrfanView is an extremely popular program (over 2 million downloads) that is a picture browser, picture editor, and slide show maker.

    When beginning IrfanView, you must select a picture directory via the File|Open command. You can sort this set of picture files by file type, by file name, by file size, or by file date, but you can't specify the display order yourself.

    Note: To prevent the confusion of constantly changing window sizes, before you begin viewing pictures, select "View|Display options|Fit images to window".

    Picture Selection: To see the next picture, press the space bar (or left-click the mouse in full screen mode). To see the previous picture, press the Backspace key (or right-click the mouse in full screen mode). Press Ctrl-F to go to the first picture, and Ctrl-L to go to the last picture.

    More impressive, you can bring up a resizable, scrollable thumbnails window. Double-clicking a thumbnail will display its picture. (Almost identical in operation to that of PicViewPlus.)

    Size & Positioning: Pictures may be displayed in a normal window (which contains a menu, a toolbar, and a status bar), or in full-screen mode. When placed in a normal window, that window can be resized and placed anywhere on your screen.

    Orientation Changes: Menu selections or keyboard keys let you rotate clockwise or counterclockwise, and do a horizontal or vertical flip. You can also rotate an arbitrary angle.

    Pan & Zoom: The "+" icon or key is used to zoom-in, while the "-" icon or key is used to zoom-out. The keyboard arrow keys or scroll bars are used to pan.

    Unfortunately, the zoom-in scheme uses a zoom reference point of the upper-left corner of the picture, which is not intuitive (the picture center is) and is very unconventional. However, you can easily get around this (window mode only) by dragging the left mouse to draw a rectangle around the area of interest, and then clicking inside this rectangle: the picture will be zoomed to that rectangle. Again, this is an unintuitive and unconventional method of zooming to a box.

    Picture Information: Menu selection Image|Information yields such information as picture size, colors, file name, file date, etc. The form showing this information also lets you look at the picture's EXIF info and IPTC info (both require downloading plug-ins to work).

    Unlike almost all other picture display software, IrfanView does an outstanding job of showing you the complete set of EXIF information within a picture, equaled only by PicViewPlus. One small issue is that it displays multi-line Image Description tags on one line. However, if you copy the EXIF information into the clipboard and paste it into a text editor, it is correctly formatted.

    Unfortunately, there is no way to enter or modify any of this EXIF information, such as Image Description. Also, there does not appear to be a way to display some of this information along with the picture.

    There is no ability to search for pictures by this embedded picture information.

    Transition Effects: Transition effects are not available.

    Sound/Audio: Irfanview only partially offers sound capability - while it will play a sound file (JPG or WAV) that is embedded with a set of picture files, that sound file is played while no picture is showing. In other words, it is not treated as picture associated or a background file (sort of odd).

    Printing: Rudimentary printing is available from the Thumbnails window. First, select a number of thumbnails. You then have a choice of printing them as a contact sheet (thumbnail-sized pictures on a page) or as multiple pages, one picture per page.

    Slide Show: You can also package a slide show. Many creation options are available, including the ability to output to:

    • make an EXE file
    • make a screen saver
    • burn to a CD (Nero software needed)

    Captioning: No capability.
    Wallpaper: No capability.
    Simulated Frames: No capability.

    Problems: For some strange reason, when I was browsing my picture files, I repeatedly got the warning that a JPG picture file was really a PNG file, and did I want to change the file type! No other picture display program had this issue.

    Irfanview is probably one of the best free slide show programs available, and hence is very popular. It is tops in displaying EXIF picture information. Its major weakness is its lack of captioning.

    Other Reviews:


    go back JPEG Viewer 2.0 (Abidos Technology, Ltd - www.softpile.com/authors/Abidos_Technology_Ltd.html - Shareware - $24.99)

    While the installation was a bit unusual, it seemed to proceed normally. But at completion, there was no executable installed on the desktop or in Start>Run. The folder Abidos Technology Ltd was placed in the Program Files directory, and folder JPEG Viewer was underneath it, but it contained no EXE file.

    I assume this application is not yet configured to install properly under Windows XP, which is what I'm running. It also appears not to have been updated in the past three years.


    go back MegaView 7.07 (Xequte Software - www.xequte.com/megaview/index.html - Shareware - $29.50)

    Program Overview: Supports over 100 formats. Slideshows, image editing, batch conversion, printing, archives to CD and DVD. It's the "big brother" of EZ-Pix.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Unknown.

    Picture Set Selection: MegaView's window contains three panes: A Windows Explorer view pane in the upper-left corner, and the content of this folder, shown as thumbnails, just below it in the lower-left corner. Click on a thumbnail here and a preview of the picture (several times larger than the thumbnail) is shown in the right-side window pane.

    Picture Ordering: Picture files can be sorted by name, size, date, or type. Sorts may be ascending or descending. Pictures cannot be manually reorganized.

    Picture Selection: The introductory browser window lets you select the next picture to display by thumbnail selection, or buttons First, Previous, Next, and Last.

    Size & Positioning: The program window may be resized and repositioned. The "slide show" window is full-screen.

    Pan & Zoom: Double-clicking a thumbnail will display the picture in full-screen mode. There, key "+" does a zoom-in, and key "-" does a zoom-out. If you browse over the title bar area, it will appear, and then you can use the zoom-in and zoom-out icons. You can't zoom with the mouse, but you can pan with it.

    Orientation Changes: A selected picture can be rotated left or right, and flipped horizontally or vertically.

    Slide Show: The slide show will automatically cycle through its pictures in the picture preview window or in full-screen mode. In either window, you have controls First, Previous, Next, and Last, and Random. When a slide show is started, it can run forward, backward, or random.

    Sound/Audio: The Thumbnails pane will also show an icon representing a sound file. This sound file will play when you happen to browse to it or double-click it. But you can't have a specific sound file play while a specific picture is being displayed. You can specify one or a set of audio files to play as background sound during a slide show.

    Picture Information: Right-click a thumbnail and select File Information, and you can select three types of picture information:

    1. General: Picture file's name, size, date, folder, colors, print resolution
    2. Description: Many lines of arbitrary text can be entered here
    3. Camera Fields: Good set of picture EXIF data, including User Comment and Image Description
    The display of Image Description discards all Returns, effectively converting multiple lines into one long string. The good news is that this data can be edited! But User Comment data seems unreliable.

    Captioning: Captioning can be enabled, and consists of the picture file name in red text centered at the top of the picture. If you have a picture Description defined, it will display at the bottom of the picture, centered. There is no way to include any EXIF picture information into the caption.

    Transition Effects: There are about 30 basic transition effects. You can select which of them you want, and their duration. (Nice) You can also specify if they should be effective always or only in slideshow mode.

    Wallpaper: The color of the picture background can be set.

    Printing: The ability to print pictures is limited. One picture can be printed per page, or many pictures can be printed per page (all the same size). There are no layout templates.

    Simulated Frames: No simulated picture frames are available.

    Other Features:

    • Nice "Usage Tip" feature
    • Also supports Videos, Text, Office, and HTML
    • Batch conversion of image formats
    • Variable thumbnail sizes

    MegaView is a very good slideshow program. It is one of the few programs that allows you to edit a picture's EXIF information. Unfortunately, it doesn't use this information in its captions. But the major problem is that it seems to suffer from numerous access violations, which makes it frustrating to use.

    Other Reviews:


    go back MySlideShow 2.4 (Anix Software - www.anixsoft.com - Shareware - $24.00)

    Program Overview: MySlideShow builds canned slide shows, giving you a wide variety of options for doing so.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Some plug-ins don't work.

    Picture Selection: MySlideShow begins by requesting a directory and having you select which of those files should go into the slide show.

    Picture Ordering: Picture ordering is strictly manual, via a picture list and a "move up" and "move down" button. While workable, this technique becomes very time consuming if you are dealing with a large number of pictures (e.g., 150). A further reordering disadvantage is that you only see one thumbnail image at a time - the one selected for moving.

    Picture Size: You have the option to stretch the image to fill the entire screen.

    Slide Show Control: Unfortunately, control is lacking. There are no controls on the screen. The left and right arrow keys do control advancement, but there seems to be no way to pause the display or move to a particular picture, such as the first or last one.

    Captioning: The caption you may optionally add is stored in a local "album" data file. Once defined, you can enable or disable its display. You can also position it at one of six locations, but all of them overlay the picture. You can also add some file information (file name, size, and date), but it displays below the picture.

    Transition Effects: There is a good set of transition effects available. An unusual capability is the ability to specify the transition effect for a particular picture, as well as for all of them.

    Sound/Audio: MySlideShow has unusually good sound features. Not only can you associate a sound file with a particular file, but you can also specify background sound files. Unfortunately, if a picture's sound file takes longer than the specified slide display time, the slide advances anyway so that a picture's narration may continue onto the next several unrelated pictures!

    Other Features:

    • A "Slide Editor Add-in" allowsyou to insert text boxes, web links, small images and video clips (AVI, MPEG-1) into slides.
    • An "EXIF Inspector Plug-in" imports separate EXIF properties (for example image description, image date/time) to the caption field of your slides, fix slide rotation field depending on EXIF Orientation values, sort your photos by the date/time taken.
    • A "Video Generator Plug-in" allows you to create VCD, SVCD, DVD and DivX video files from your slide show projects. Then you can import the video files to your CD burning software, create Video CDs and play them on a DVD player.

    MySlideShow is a very good slideshow building program, and appears to be well documented on their website. It offers good sound and transitions, but has weak picture navigation.

    Other Reviews:


    go back PhotoJam 4 (Shockwave - photojam.shockwave.com - $29.95)

    Program Overview: PhotoJam 4 is "slideshow" construction program where you first have to build a slide show before it can be viewed. It is another of those programs that takes over your entire screen, even the "always on top" taskbar.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: You can't select your own slideshow music.

    Picture Ordering: Picture ordering is done by dragging and dropping thumbnail pictures.

    Picture Size: Even though "full screen" mode is used, the pictures themselves take up only about half of the full screen size, leaving a lot of black area.

    Slide Show Control: You can view the slide show in either a window that shows the full set of controls, or in full-screen mode. In "controls" mode, you can only move to the first picture. In "full-screen" mode, you can't even do that.

    Captioning: PhotoJam has the ability to place a caption on a picture. Unfortunately, I was unable to get this caption to display along with the picture.

    Transition Effects: Transitions are referred to as Styles, and there is a very unusual and unique set of them - many quite nice. Strangely, almost half of them were not transitions at all, but superimposed static and dynamic sub-pictures (e.g., snowflakes falling).

    Sound/Audio: A MP3 sound file can be used, but only as background to the entire slide show. In an unusual twist, you can select the type of music and have a selection of it downloaded from the Internet. You can't select your own music file with the free trial version.

    Other Features: You can create a web page and a screen saver.

    PhotoJam 4 is a basic slide show program with some limitations.

    Other Reviews:


    go back PhotoRelay 2.5 (Part of Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5 - www.roxio.com/en/products/ecdc - $69.95)

    Program Overview: Roxio's (formerly Adaptec) PhotoRelay is bundled with Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5 application. Its purpose is to insert your pictures into a packaged slide show that may be viewed on a PC, written to a CD, or sent out for processing. Hence, this is not a general picture browsing program.

    Picture Set Selection: The program begins by displaying a table of boxes that will hold thumbnail images. Click either the Add or Acquire menu icons to bring in a set of pictures that will populate these thumbnail boxes.

    Picture Ordering: You can sort the pictures by name, type, size, date, or you can designate the sort order by dragging and dropping the thumbnail images.

    Picture Selection: Picture selection is initially by thumbnail selection in the opening thumbnails window: double-click a thumbnail to see it within a large window. You can repeat this process to look at another picture, or, you can use the picture selection buttons in the large picture window: First, Previous, Next, and Last.

    Slide Show Control: The created slide show is shown in full-screen mode. It's controlled by a Next and Previous button. There is no way to directly go to the first or last picture, nor is there a way to go to an arbitrary picture.

    Size & Positioning: The main program window (holding the thumbnails) almost fills the screen and cannot be resized, although it can be moved. The picture viewing window can be resized and moved. The slide show window is always "full screen", and hence cannot be moved or resized.

    Pan & Zoom: The picture viewing window has a crude zoom: each click of the zoom icon zooms to the upper left picture corner. Panning is also crude, and is done via the viewing window scroll bars. There is no pan or zoom when in slide show mode.

    Orientation Changes: Rotation is done by a very unusual method: you drag a rotation line around the periphery of your picture, which enables rotation in any direction and any angle. Its "stickyness" at 0, 90, and 180 degrees helps. Strangely, there is no ability to flip the picture horizontally or vertically.

    Transition Effects: There are some nice transition effects - they are selected randomly. You can only enable them or disable them.

    Sound/Audio: You can attach an audio file to a picture, and it will play while it's picture is being displayed in the slide show. You can also specify a background audio file. But you can't specify both at once.

    Captioning: You can attach a Title, Date, and Description to a picture. All three show when you click on a thumbnail. In slide show mode, only the Description shows, and it is placed on the picture, near the top center. But this data and the sound data are stored in a data format defined by Roxio (not EXIF).

    Picture Information: If you right-click on a thumbnail and select Properties, a form will display the following picture file properties: name, picture width, height, size, date, and attached sound file. No EXIF data is available.

    Wallpaper: None - parts of the screen not covered by the picture are shown in black.

    Simulated Frames: Four simple frames are available, but only optionally when a picture is printed.

    Printing: You can print one or more pictures, in sizes "small", "medium", and "large". There is no way to further control these sizes. There is also no way to control the positioning of these pictures on the page (i.e., no page layout template).

    The following items can optionally be included in the printout:

    • picture title (placed under the picture, left-justified)
    • picture description (placed under the title, left-justified)
    • banner header
    • banner footer
    • page number
    • 1 of 4 simple picture frames of fixed thickness
    • 1 of 8 picture backgrounds

    Other Features:

    • Other editing features, such as Sharpen Image, and Adjust Saturation are also available.
    • Automatically upload your images to a website.
    • Package a slide show on a CD-ROM that will play on any PC.
    • Make a video postcard.

    If you have Roxio's Easy CD Creator 5, this slide show program is definitely worth considering. Use it for packaging a slide show, not for picture browsing. It's strong points are its ease of composing a slide show and it's audio capability. It's weak points are its lack of embedded picture information and weak picture captioning.

    Since Easy CD Creator 5 is no longer offered, PhotoRelay 2.5 is also no longer offered as a product. Instead, some of its features have been integrated into Roxio's new offering - Easy Media Creator 7. The equivalent program there is probably Photosuite 7. Unfortunately, it doesn't appear as if a downloadable evaluation copy is available.


    go back Phota 3.4 (Simple Star, Inc. - www.Whizical.com - Shareware - $22.00)

    Program Overview: Phota is not intended to be a general picture viewing program. Instead, it's purpose is to build "photo albums" of pictures. Basically, this means each "page" (display screen) shows 4 to 9 pictures at once, although you can configure it to show one picture per screen.

    Once built, these photo albums can be shown as a "slide show", or as a simulated 3D "Photo Gallery", where you are taken through it, stopping to pause and examine each picture.

    After startup finishes, the program immediately takes over the entire screen. The background is black, giving the display a rather stark appearance. All the program controls are located along the right side of the screen, in an area called the Navigation Bar. Grabbing the entire screen, using a black background, and control placement are all very unusual when compared to other picture display programs.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: The time period is apparently unlimited.

    Picture Set Selection: Click the topmost Open button of the right-side Navigation Bar to select a picture folder.

    Picture Ordering: Only manual ordering is permitted.

    Picture Selection: Only Previous and Next buttons are available.

    Size & Positioning: The opening "full-screen" mode means the window can't be resized or repositioned. To get around this, click the Menu selection in the Navigation Bar. This not only displays a menu bar, but also the normal Window border. This window is set to "window max" mode. To change that, click the window's "Restore Down" button, drag a corner to resize the window, and then reposition it to suit your needs.

    Pan & Zoom: There is no pan and zoom capability. If you click on a picture on an album page, it will be displayed all by itself on a larger scale.

    Orientation Changes: The picture can be rotated left, right, or upside down. The picture file itself is not altered. The picture file cannot be flipped horizontally or vertically.

    Slide Show: Slide shows have lots of options.

    • Sequential or random picture selection
    • Variable display time in seconds
    • Individual photos or album pages
    • Whether or not to show picture titles
    • Whether or not to play background audio (and which audio file)
    • Whether or not to show a menu bar at the top of the screen

    Sound/Audio: By clicking on a "music staff" icon, a selected audio file can be made to play in the background (with or without showing an "Audio Player" control box to control the player).

    Picture Information: There is a Photo Info button beside each photo, which, when clicked, displays a form containing three panels of information:

    • Photo
      • Image File (name)
      • Position
      • Orientation
    • Description
      • Title
      • Photographer
      • Date
      • Location
      • Occasion
      • Comment (multi-line)
    • Audio/Video
      • Audio File
      • Video File
    It isn't clear where the picture descriptive information is stored, but it isn't within the picture itself. It seems very likely it is stored in a proprietary database of some sort, complicating the movement or sharing of pictures.

    Captioning: The only captioning is a title line, which is shown underneath each picture. This title line cannot access any stored picture information.

    Transition Effects: There are no transition effects.

    Wallpaper: There is no way to change the picture background.

    Printing: An album page or a single picture can be printed. The picture(s) will be printed top-justified. The picture titles are printed underneath them. There is no way to change the orientation.

    Simulated Frames: There are no simulated picture frames.

    Other Features: There is a Gallery option which simulates a photo gallery.

    Problems:

    • The lack of a "tool tip" feature makes browsing the controls a bit of a chore.
    • The documentation references a "CD/Screensaver Builder", but the program showed no evidence of this feature.

    Phota is a very different picture display program, from its user interface to what it does. It's general picture display capabilities are only fair. It's main purpose is the production of display windows having from 4 to 9 pictures on them, intended to appear as a photo album. It does a decent, but not great, job at this. It's recently implemented secondary purpose is to simulate a walk through a 3D Photo Gallery. Probably no other program does this. While the effect is interesting, the movements are somewhat jerky, and the effect doesn't seem to add that much to picture viewing enjoyment.


    go back PhotoShow 3.0 (Simple Star, Inc. - www.simplestar.com - Shareware - $29.99)

    Program Overview: PhotoShow 3.0 builds a canned slide show for you or others to view. The only actions you can take are Pause, Resume, Next, and Previous.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 15 day trial. The trial version will not burn CDs.

    How to begin: Begin by building a new slide show. First select a folder from which to get the pictures from. Then, if necessary, drag and drop the folder's thumbnails to reorder them properly.

    Once the set of slide show thumbnails is defined, do the following, which applies to the overall show:

    1. Select the "Show Style" (e.g., Christmas, Weddings), which downloads themes and music.
    2. Enter "Title", "Created by", and "Starring"

    Then, optionally for each photo, do the following:

    1. Crop, rotate, or change the brightness of a picture
    2. Select its Transition effect, display effect (e.g., Negative), display time, and sound track
    3. Drag and position one or more clip-art pictures on it (e.g., a mouse or snowflake)
    4. Drag and position one or more boxes of caption text (you specify the content)
    5. Add a string of text to be displayed at the bottom of the picture (pick the size, color, and alignment)
    When finished, you have the following options:
    • Email a link
    • Convert to HTML (for uploading to a web site)
    • Make a stand-alone executable
    • Make into a Screen Saver, using PhotoShow to run it
    • Order a Pro quality DVD delivered to friends and family
    • Burn a video CD for playback on a DVD player tha supports video CDs
    • Burn to a CD-ROM

    PhotoShow can make a very nice looking canned slide show, but it has some serious issues that can be annoying:

    1. Upon startup, the first thing it does is completely take over your screen, so that you have to use Alt-Tab to switch to other tasks.
    2. When viewing a photo show, only about half of the screen is used for picture display.
    3. During and just after the installation process, the program kept trying to access the Internet. Since no reason was given, it was somewhat unnerving.
    4. The installation process wanted my e-mail address so it could send me literature. Most people don't want that.
    5. During the process of loading my folder's picture files, it said it couldn't load five of those files, but didn't identify which ones it couldn't load, or why it couldn't load them.

    PhotoShow builds some very nice slide shows, but it also has quite a few annoying traits.

    Other Reviews:


    go back Photo Story 3 (Microsoft - http://www.microsoft.com/windowsxp/using/digitalphotography/photostory/default.mspx - Free)

    Program Overview: While Photo Story 2 came bundled inside Microsoft's Microsoft Plus! Digital Media Edition ($20), which is an add-on pack of tools for Windows XP, Photo Story 3 is now a free download.

    Photo Story is used to create a "canned" slide show, that is, one in which the viewer starts it and takes no controlling action whatsoever. Such a slide show is suitable for placing on a video CD or DVD, or e-mailing, where the recipient needs little computer knowledge. The creation steps are as follows:

    1. Begin by creating a "new story", which involves importing pictures from one or more folders.
    2. Clean up each picture: Crop, rotate, and set color levels, contrast, and fix redeye if desired. Optionally, apply an effect e.g., sepia.
    3. Add a caption to each picture, choosing its font, size, and color.
    4. Pick a transition effect to use betweeen successive pictures.
    5. Select the music you want to start playing when a picture shows.
    6. Select the story destination (e.g., file on computer)
    7. Have the computer create the story file.

    In contrast, programs like PicViewPlus put you in charge of the slide show, giving you control over what pictures to display, how to display them, and for how long to display each picture. No lengthy photo composition process is needed.

    More specifically, a Photo Story 3 presentation lacks:

    1. Picture Selection
    2. Size & Positioning control
    3. Pan & Zoom
    4. Orientation Changes
    5. EXIF Picture Information
    6. Printing
    7. Simulated Frames
    8. Wallpaper
    9. Picture Information
    10. Flexible Captioning, including caption suppression
    11. Selectable Transition Effects

    While both Photo Story and programs like PicViewPlus display sets of pictures, they do not directly compete - each is intended for different viewing situations. Use Photo Story to send a "canned" slide show to friends. Use traditional slide show programs like PicViewPlus to display your pictures when you want "real-time" control along with extended flexibility.


    go back PicaJet Photo Organizer 2.4 (picajet.com - www.picajet.com - Freeware)

    Program Overview: PicaJet Photo Organizer is a picture organizer and viewer whose focus is on organizing pictures through the use of categories. It includes a full-screen slide show as well as picture editing tools and the ability to print pictures. While this version is free, a similar version offering more features is available for $39.95.

    Picture Set Selection: Upon startup, after going through the wizard to set up a database and select a picture folder(s), it displays a multi-pane window. Folder thumbnails are in the big center pane. A "Categories:" pane is on the left. A "Locate By:" pane is in the upper-right. A "Properties:" pane is in the lower-right.

    Picture Ordering: Files may be "arranged" by rating, caption, date, name, locations, and size. (Although I couldn't get this to work.) There is no manual picture ordering.

    Picture Selection: To obtain a larger view of a picture, it's thumbnail is double-clicked. Double-click this larger view to return to viewing thumbnails.

    In slide show mode, only buttons Next and Previous can control picture selection.

    Size & Positioning: The main program window is initialized to full-screen (except for the system Task Bar). But you can size it smaller, and then move it. As stated previously, the picture thumbnails appear in the center pane. When you double-click one of these thumbnails, that picture then fills this thumbnail screen. To make this picture viewing window bigger, you have to move it's left and right pane boundary. Hence, there is no quick and easy way to display a picture at a size that occupies almost all of the display screen.

    Pan & Zoom: A zoom-in to the picture center is done using the keypad "+" key. A zoom-out from the picture center is done using the kepad "-" key. The mouse can't be used to zoom in or out. In fact, the help file text states "We insist on your using keyboard shortcuts. It enables you to increase your working speed and convenience." Yet when zoomed in, you can use the mouse as well as the arrow keys to pan around the picture! The keypad "*" key fits the picture to the display window.

    Orientation Changes: Pictures can be rotated left and right. They can also be flipped horizontally. Strangely, they cannot be flipped vertically.

    Slide Show: The slide show mode is full-screen. Clicking anywhere on the screen once brings down a menu bar whereby you have some control over the slide show:

    • Next picture, Previous Picture
    • Pause
    • Display Time
    • Set audio properties
    • Set transition properties

    Sound/Audio: Menu selection Tools | Options | SlideShow lets you specify a folder of MP3 files that will play in the background during a slide show. They repeat. They can play in order or randomly. A picture cannot have an audio file associated with it.

    Picture Information: When a thumbnail is clicked, the Properties window displays these properties:

    • General:
      • Rating (1 to 5 stars)
      • Caption
      • Quick Edit
      • Date
      • Imported date
    • Categories: Assign category:
      • Tray
      • Favorites
      • People (Family, Friends)
      • Places
      • Events
      • Keyword1
    • File:
      • File name and location
      • File size
      • Print size
      • File Created and Modified date
    • EXIF: (A very limited number of tags are displayed)
      • Camera vendor and model
      • F-number
      • ISO - speed ratings
      • Exposure time
      • Flash
      • Focal length
    Menu selection File | Metadata displays the EXIF and IPTC information associated with a picture file. I found that most, but not all, defined picture tags were present (e.g., Photographer is missing).

    Unfortunately, the first 8 characters of EXIF tag User Comment are dropped if this tag contains ASCII text (as it often does). This tag and EXIF tag Image Description both don't deal with multi-line data - the Returns are dropped. Also, none of this informaton can be saved - the FX update is required for that.

    A one-line description can be attached to a picture. A rating of one to five stars can be attached to a picture.

    Captioning: The one-line description as well as the rating in stars are both displayed below the thumbnail, but they aren't displayed on the picture during the full-screen slide show.

    Transition Effects: There are several nicely done transition effects. (In order to see the full set of them (about 16), you need to upgrade to the FX version.) The method of specifying them seemed somewhat awkward.

    Wallpaper: There is no means to change the picture display background.

    Printing: Three templates are available: One full-page template, a template holding 9 pictures (2.5 x 3.5 inches), and a contact sheet template holding 15 pictures. The pictues you have selected will fill the template boxes. The following annotation can be added (below the picture and left-justified with it): File Name, Date, and Description. The page orientation can be either Landscape or Portrait. When making a contact sheet, the number of pictures per column can be changed. But when I changed from a contact sheet to a 9-picture sheet, the program hung in a CPU loop.

    Simulated Frames: There are no simulated picture frames.

    Other Features:

    • Picture Editing (done via Fix Image: Brightness/Contrast, Hue/Saturation, Crop, Levels, Sharpen/Blur, Effects, and Red Eye Reduction.
    • Pictures can be read from a camera.

    Operational Issues:

    • Upon installation, Microsoft AntiSpyware detected pjext.dll was trying to add a context menu handler to Windows Explorer(add menu item(s) to Window's Explorer context menus). I blocked it.
    • Upon startup, by default, it seems to want to scan every file on the system for pictures! This could take awhile if you have lots of picture files.
    • By default (but you can override this), it puts it's database in: C:\Documents and Settings\default\Application Data\Picajet.com\PicaJet\2.0\Database.
    • Upon startup, you can select a skin: Default, Media Player XP, or XP Blue.
    • The Help text English was sometimes difficult to understand (their "holding up" a key means "pressing" a key, "picture" sometimes means "icon", "on the workspace" means the "Properties" pane, "caption" also means "description").
    • I also found the help file's index inadequate.
    • In the "Locate By:" pane, icons allow you to group the pictures by date or rating, but I was unable to make this work.
    • Picture ordering didn't seem to work.
    • Menu command Edit | Find is supposed to find pictures with the specified text in "Caption" or "Everywhere". I tried both types of search on text that should have matched exactly, but the search failed to succeed.

    PicaJet Photo Organizer really seems to emphasize photo organization, yet I found its features in this area somewhat difficult to understand, which may have been due to 1) its rather skimpy documentation, 2) non-standard English terminology, and program operational bugs. It does seem to feature good EXIF and IPTC tag data capability, along with a full-screen slide show with sound. But, as they repeatedly bring up, their "FX" version offers more in searching, EXIF update, and a greater number of transitions (27 vs 3).

    Other Reviews:


    go back Picasa 2 (Lifescape Solutions, Inc.- www.lifescapeinc.com/picasa - Freeware)

    Program Overview: Picasa was bought out by Google, and was then renamed Picasa2. It is now also free. It's strong points are:

    • Quick indexing of all your picture files (of course, its owned by Google!)
    • Visually attractive interface
    • Picture tagging
    • Picture editing
    • Picture set operations (e-mailing, making a CD slide show, sending out for development)

    Picasa 2 begins by asking if you want to index all of your disk, part of it, or add to that already indexed. The result is presented to you as sets of thumbnails. A slider allows you to dynamically resize these thumbnails!

    Slide Show: When you click button Slideshow, you can have the pictures advance manually or automatically. The pictures are displayed in full-screen mode. Pan and zoom are not available in this mode.

    Size & Positioning: Slide shows are full-screen. There is no control over the size or position of the display.

    Picture Selection: Picture selection is very limited - Next & Previous. There is no way to go to the first or last picture in the set, nor any way to go to an arbitrary picture, except by stopping the slideshow, selecting the desired picture, and restarting the slideshow.

    You can order the pictures by name, date, and size - a fairly common feature. The pictures can also be manually reordered - with beautiful visual effects!

    There is a picture search capability. It can be used to search for pictures containing specified keywords, words within a picture's filename, or words within a picture's folder path. Its lookup speed is a pleasant surprise, especially since results are displayed as you enter each character of a search word. But it doesn't search for content within EXIF data tags (e.g., a picture description).

    While there is no other picture titling/captioning ability, you can add keywords to a picture (it's not clear how they get attached to the picture).

    Orientation Changes: Pictures can be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise.

    Pan & Zoom: While there is no pan or zoom when doing a manual or automatic slide show, if you double-click a picture, you will see a large-sized version of it that can be zoomed and panned. While the variable zoom looks outstanding, it always zooms to the center of the picture. So to zoom to a specific point, you might have to iterate the zoom and pan operations several times.

    Picture Information: No EXIF picture tag information is available. However, tags can be assigned to a picture. These tags are added to a picture file as IPTC tags (similar to EXIF tags).

    Captioning: When viewing a slideshow, you can check the Information button, and the picture's caption will be displayed. (I found this unreliable - most of the time it wouldn't display when enabled, unless I had JUST enabled it). The font, size, or position of this caption can't be changed.

    Transition Effects: There are no transition effects, although there is a nice fade between pictures in slide show mode.

    Sound/Audio: You can play a folder of MP3 audio tracks in the background. But each picture can't have it's own audio file.

    Printing: Printing is nicely done. You first select the pictures to print, then the page layout to use (only 6 are available). The selected pictures are automatically assigned to the template boxes. A nice touch is that you can choose "Shrink to fit" or "Crop to Fit", which applies to all template pictures. A drawback is that if you choose to place 3 pictures in a 9 picture "Wallet" layout, they automatically get placed in a centered vertical column. This means you can't print the three across the top, flip the paper in the printer and print two 3x5's on the other half of the page.

    Wallpaper: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    Picasa, while visually pleasing and having many picture editing features, is generally weak when it comes to flexibly displaying a set of pictures. Major shortcomings are its inability to attach descriptive text to a picture and then display this text during its slide show mode.

    Other Reviews:


    go back Picolo 1.7 (eKonnect Software - www.eKonnect.com - Freeware)

    Program Overview: Picolo is a basic 3-pane window picture display program. Note that it supports itself by installing adware on your system!

    Picture Selection: You select the picture file directory in pane 1, see the content as thumbnails in pane 2, and select a thumbnail in order to display it in pane 3.

    Slide Show: While in slide show mode, there is no way to manually go forward or back, or to go to a random picture. And while large pictures are reduced in size to fit the screen, small images are not increased in size to fill the screen.

    You can sort the pictures by name, size, type or date, but you can't manually reorder them.

    Picture Selection: There is no way to go forward or backward in the picture directory.

    Size & Positioning: While in 3-pane mode, you can click on a picture to fill the screen with it alone.

    Pan & Zoom: The zoom point is always fixed at the upper left corner of the picture.

    Transition Effects: Dozens of transition effects are available.

    Other Features: Picolo does provide a number of tools to edit the image such as color adjustment, solarize, posterize, and conversion to true color or black and white. It also offers a number of batch operations, such as rotate.

    Orientation Changes: None
    Sound/Audio: None
    Picture Information: None
    Captioning: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    Picolo is a below-average slide show program having limited features. Its adware support makes it less desirable these days. Plus, support is questionable: their user forum comes up displaying an error, and when you try to send them e-mail, it bounces.


    go back Picture Viewer .EXE 1.1.218 (SoftTech InterCorp - www.stintercorp.com/genx/pvexe.php - $35)

    Program Overview: Picture Viewer .EXE is a general picture viewing program with support for over 20 file types.

    Picture Viewer .EXE has a relatively clean and easy-to-learn interface, making it easy to quickly begin using it to display your pictures. Commands are generally done by clicking on a series of icons across the bottom of the window (almost identical, in fact, to Microsoft's Windows Picture and Fax Viewer), or by right-clicking the picture to bring up a lengthy context menu.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Full featured. 50 runs, then registration reminders periodically appear.

    Picture Selection: Picture selection is done via the "Previous Image" or "Next Image" icons, by clicking the "Image List" icon where you select your picture from a list of picture file names, or via thumbnail selection. Thumbnail selection is restricted to a "filmstrip" of one, two, or three rows of thumbnails. Unfortunately, this feature was corrupted in that many of the thumbnail images were identical.

    Slide Show: Forward, Reverse, and Random.

    There is no ability to sort the pictures by file characteristic, or manually.

    Size & Positioning: The picture display window may be resized and repositioned.

    Pan & Zoom: There is a zoom capability, but it is somewhat primitive, in that you can only click on a "+" or "-" icon. The zoom point is always set to the center of the picture. Panning is done by dragging the left mouse button, or by the more cumbersome method of window scroll bars.

    Orientation Changes: You can rotate pictures left and right, but you can't flip them horizontally or vertically.

    Sound/Audio: There is no capability to play picture or background audio.

    Picture Information: Information about the picture file itself (e.g., file date, size) can be displayed. But there is no capability to read or write EXIF picture information. Nor can you add any kind of picture information, such as a title.

    Captioning: Not available - a serious shortcoming.

    Transition Effects: None.

    Wallpaper: The "wallpaper" option simply puts the picture on your desktop. You can change the picture background, but only its color - not its texture.

    Other features: There is an icon for sending the picture via e-mail, but the use of its own interface made it feel awkward compared to Outlook Express. When I tried to send a picture to myself, it indicated success, but I never received the email.

    There is no "Help" or "instructions" icon, but there is a "Help FAQ". Unfortunately, it's not organized by topic, so you have to search through it to find what you want.

    Printing: Clicking on the Print Imageicon brings up a Printing Options dialog box. Unfortunately, many of its options are blacked out! Also, the frame titles were both truncated. You can include a title and filename footer, but you can only print one picture per page. It is always centered and doesn't fill the page.

    Simulated Frames: None

    Picture Viewer .EXE is a relatively easy-to-use viewing program with some nice features (e.g., picture selection). However, it is hampered by the lack of some key features (e.g., picture captioning, audio, transition effects) and several significant bugs (e.g., email, printing, thumbnails).

    Other Reviews:


    go back PolyView 4.22 (Polybytes - www.polybytes.com - $29.95)

    Program Overview: PolyView is a graphics utility designed for creating, viewing, converting, and printing images. It has an almost overwhelming number of technical options.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: None. The demo says it is good for 30 days. There are periodic registration reminders.

    Slide Show: You can build a slide show by selecting a set of picture files. When you then request that the slide show begin, it goes into full screen mode, advancing to the next picture every few seconds. A left-click pauses the action. In that case, a left-click displays the next picture, while a right-click displays the previous picture. There is no way to go to the first or last picture. Nor is there any way to go to an arbitrary picture.

    Picture Selection: After PolyView starts, you can specify a directory of picture files to browse. Buttons move you to the next or previous picture. There seems to be no way to use thumbnails to select a picture. However, you can go into "Browsing" mode to select a picture by it's name. The drawback is that pan and zoom don't operate in this mode.

    Size & Positioning: PolyView creates an application window. All other windows it creates are placed within this window, often making things seem cramped. The picture window is one of the residents of this application window. While you can resize and reposition this window, its size often changes as you browse from picture to picture.

    PolyView is unusual in that it doesn't create thumbnail images unless you request them. If you do, the thumbnail display unfortunately doesn't include the associated thumbnail file names. If you double-left click a thumbnail, you then see its picture as a window within the thumbnails window (you can't move it outside this window). The problem is that this window soon gets crowded with pictures and becomes almost unusable. If you then double-left click on one of these pictures, it opens in full-screen slide show mode (left-click = Next, right-click = Previous), but you can only move among those pictures whose thumbnails you have expanded. You have no control over the display order.

    If this sounds somewhat complex, it is. In fact, it seems so unwieldy that one tends to avoid it if possible!

    Pan & Zoom: You can zoom via a menu selection or a function key. But I found the zoom center point not always where I expected it to be. To use the mouse to zoom, you draw/drag a rectangular area to zoom to. Panning can be done by window scroll bars or by the mouse wheel (if your mouse has one). Even mouse wheel horizontal panning is supported.

    Orientation Changes: Pictures can be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise. In addition, they can be flipped vertically or horizontally.

    Picture Information: PolyView is outstanding in the number of picture properties it can extract from the picture file. Not only does it give you file size, date, height, width, etc., but for JPEG files you also get the EXIF information such as ImageDescription, ImageComment, Artist, etc. In fact, no other program beats it in the amount and accuracy of this information (PicViewPlus comes very close). A small drawback is that this information window must be constant re-established when you move from picture to picture.

    The only major drawback here is that there is no way to enter or change information such as the Image Description.

    Captioning: The picture file name is displayed in the lower right corner of the picture. It can't be resized or repositioned. There is a "text tool" for placing text of any size or font on the picture, but this text overwrites the picture file.

    Transition Effects: There are about 15 transition effects, but there is no way to browse their effects. A transition effect can be associated with all pictures or with a specific picture.

    Sound/Audio: PolyView can associate a sound file with a picture. The picture display time is extended to the length of long sound files. However, if you advance to the next picture, the sound file is not terminated, and still continues to play.

    Printing: Printing is done via the Print Composer which allows you to select from among 8 different page layouts. Then you have to Choose which picture is to get inserted into each layout box of a page layout. The problem is that this is all done by file names, not by picture appearance, so it soon becomes a bit confusing as to what was assigned where if your picture files don't have meaningful names. (Enabling Preview helps a lot) If the the picture aspect aspect ratio doesn't match the layout box aspect ratio, it appears the picture is shrunk to fit. There is no provision crop the excess sides while maintaining a maximum-sized picture.

    Wallpaper: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    PolyView is loaded with picture display features. The problem is that these features don't seem to be well integrated, and the program is somewhat difficult to use because of this. Nevertheless, its EXIF tag support is outstanding, as is its ability to handle a wide variety of camera raw picture file formats.

    Other Reviews:


    go back ProShow Gold 2.0 (RoboPhoto - www.photodex.com/products/proshowgold - Shareware - 69.95)

    Program Overview: ProShow Gold is targeted toward the creation of packaged slide shows - it is not a full-featured picture viewer. With this in mind, it has numerous tools that can be used in building these slide shows. The packaged slide show can be used as follows:

    1. creation of a DVD slide show
    2. creation of a Video CD slide show
    3. creation of a stand-alone executable slide show, requiring no setup or installation
    4. creation of a web-based slide show (Web Show)
    5. posting the slide show on a public website
    6. sending the slide show via e-mail
    7. placing the slide show on an auto-run CD
    8. creation of a Screen Saver slide show
    9. creation of a slide show video (*.mpg)
    This program was developed by the makers of CompuPic.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 15-day trial. Also, each slide show package contains a gold banner on every page saying "Made as an evaluation of ProShow Gold".

    Picture Set Selection: You begin with no show content (new show), and hence have to select a folder of pictures by using the Folders window (upper-left corner). Once selected, the picture file thumbnails are displayed in the window directly below. Drag them, one-by-one, to locations within the Slide Show window immediately below. This picture selection process can be repeated to add other pictures to the slide show.

    Picture Ordering: Picture ordering is done via drag-and-drop operations. Or, selected slides may be rotated left or right.

    Picture Selection: Upon execution of the slide show, the pictures are displayed successively, and there is no facility for navigating among them.

    Size & Positioning: There is the ability to specify the layout, that is, how many pictures per page, and how they are organized on a page. For some reason, I could never get more than one picture per page, in spite of requesting more.

    Pan & Zoom: There is no pan or zoom.

    Orientation Changes: There is no ability to change the orientation or the pictures.

    Slide Show: Toolbar button Play lets you see the slide show as composed so far. A display time may be set for each picture. A slide show has the following characteristics:

    • Title
    • Layout (e.g., Two Diagonal, 4 per page, one per page, centered, etc)
    • Option to specify a background picture
    • Option to specify background music (and volume)

    Sound/Audio: There can be background audio, and each picture can have its own audio file.

    Picture Information: There is no ability to display information associated with the picture.

    Captioning: A slide show title can be specified. There is a very extensive picture captioning ability. This consists of multi-line text blocks, each of which can have the following properties specified:

    • offset (in X and Y units)
    • text content
    • font
    • size
    • style (bold, italic, shadow, outline)
    • color (using a color wheel)
    • alignment (left, right, center)
    • motion (Fade In, Fade Down, Pulse, etc)
    • order (compared to the other text blocks)

    Transition Effects: This program probably beats all competition when it comes to the number of transition effects offered: 280. The transition effect introducing each picture can be individually set. The transition effects are easily reviewed. Finally, the time assigned to a transition effect can be specified.

    Wallpaper: One of the the very few programs that can specify a background consisting of either a specified solid color or a background picture/pattern. If a picture/pattern is used, it's brightness may be set. Pictures may also have a "drop shadow" and/or "outline".

    Printing: There is no ability to print a picture.

    Simulated Frames: There are no simulated picture frames.

    Other Notes:

    • I was able to make a Screen Saver.
    • I was able to make Web Show. It created it in a .px file, and gave me 5 lines of HTML script that would execute that .px file using a JavaScript program on PhotoDex's website.
    • I was able to make a medium quality MPEG1 video of my slide show.
    • I didn't try making a DVD since I don't have a DVD burner.
    • You can upload your shows to the Photodex.com website for others to view, but I didn't try it. They say the account is free. But you need a member name and password.

    Problems:

    • The executable I made didn't play with the layout I specified.
    • When directing my slide show to a different target, it asked the same set of general slide show questions again, seemingly ignoring what I had previously specified.
    • When I made an e-mail of my slideshow, it again asked for all the layout info.
    • The audio preview of my MP3 seemed to continue trying to play even when it was over.
    • Trying to remove a global caption failed, and sometimes corrupted its text, deleting a picture's transition time.
    • When I clicked on Screen Saver, Executable, etc, after going thru this once, it didn't respond to my first click. I had to click again to bring up the window. Then, when I closed the window, it reappeared again!

    ProShow Gold really isn't a decent picture browser. Instead, it's purpose is to build packaged slide shows, and it provides some excellent tools for doing so (Transition effects and captioning seem to be its strong points). It has a wide variety of targets to send the packaged slide show to. On the downside, it seems to suffer from a number of program bugs.

    Other Reviews:


    go back RoboPhoto 3.1 (RoboPhoto - www.robophoto.com - Shareware - 34.95)

    Program Overview: RoboPhoto allows you to create thumbnail web pages of your pictures.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: There is no time limit, but...

    • The word "DEMO" is placed on each thumbnail image
    • When interfacing with a GPS, area maps are not created
    • You cannot directly edit EXIF information

    Slide Show: Yes, but limited.

    Size & Positioning: The displayed pictures are only about double the standard thumbnail size.

    Pan & Zoom: None.

    Picture Information: From this review's point of view, RoboPhoto's strong point is its generally complete display of a picture's EXIF data. Unfortunately, several useful tag items are missing (exposure mode, flash, orientation), and some tag data is truncated (Image Title only shows the first line of a multi-line title). You can update the EXIF data, but you have to buy a license to do that.

    Picture Selection: None
    Size & Positioning: None
    Orientation Changes: None
    Sound/Audio: None
    Captioning: None
    Transition Effects: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    While RoboPhoto is primarily used to create thumbnail web pages, and hence is not a general slide show program, it does have the ability to display a picture's EXIF tag data - an often useful feature.


    go back Photo-Lux 3.3 (KUDRSOFT - www.yukudr.com - Shareware - $29.99)

    Program Overview: Photo-Lux, formerly known as S-PicView (2.07), is unusual in that it is a picture editor, a picture browser, and a slide show builder. You can either look at the pictures in a specified file directory or build your own "slide show" set of selected pictures. You can then save each slide show under a name. It supports a large number of picture file types.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: 30 runs.

    Picture Selection: You select pictures by Next, Previous, First, and Last picture. There is no ability to go to a random picture. When browsing the pictures, there is no ability to order them, but you can order them when creating a slide show. Once created, there appears to be no way to reorder (such as moving a selected picture name up or down within a list).

    Slide Show: You can build a slide show of pictures.

    Orientation Changes: In picture browse mode, you can rotate clockwise or counter-clockwise, and flip in X or Y.

    Pan & Zoom: The documentation mentions a "high quality" zoom, but it seems no better than zooms in other similar programs. A zoom is always to the center of the picture - you can't zoom to a specific area. Panning is done via scroll bars, which is somewhat inconvenient when dealing with pictures.

    Size & Positioning: Picture size when browsing pictures in a directory seems fixed, with no way to size the viewing window. In slide show mode, the entire screen is taken up.

    Captioning: The picture file name can be placed in the upper-left corner of the picture. No other picture information can be used in a caption.

    Picture Information: Generally good display of EXIF information, with some errors (e.g., Flash was backward, and White Balance was missing). The image description field was there, but unfortunately was called Camera Type. Tag User Comment was missing. Finally, there is no way to update any of this picture information

    Transition Effects: There is a nice set of transition effects (110) to choose from when in slide show mode (under Edit|Options|Full Screen). Unlike other slide show programs, however, there is no ability to randomly select these interesting effects.

    Simulated Frames: Yes, with severe limitations:

    • They cut off part of the picture
    • The frame thickness can't be specified
    • The frame selection is limited (9 available)
    • To see the frame selection, you have to step through the frame list (no frame menu)
    • The frame disappears when you advance to the next picture
    All these limitations detract from this potentially nice feature.

    Problems: Surprisingly, Photo-Lux was unable to read a number of JPEG picture files that other programs had no problem with. When browsing pictures, the pictures are always in the upper-left corner of the screen rather then centered, as you might expect.

    Sound/Audio: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None

    Photo-Lux has the potential to be be a really good slide show program, but unfortunately suffers from an inability to read many JPEG files. While it has many features, they often have problems associated with them.

    Other Reviews:


    go back SlideShow Desktop 2.8 (Jason Jennings - www.slideshowdesktop.com - Shareware - $19.95)

    Program Overview: SlideShow Desktop is used to create a packaged slide show.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Full functionality for the first 14 days, limited functionality after that.

    Slide Show: SlideShow Desktop requires that you first build a slideshow file list. You can do this by dragging and dropping individual files or folders of files. Once this list is built, you can reorder it either alphabetically (by file name), or by moving any specified picture file name up or down in the display order list.

    At this point you can start up the slide show in full screen mode. In auto-advance mode, pictures can be shown in sequence or at random. If you disable the auto-advance, you can selectively display any picture on the display list by double clicking it.

    Size & Positioning: This program chooses to display the picture unlike in any other slide show program - in full size on the desktop. This means that your icons, the program window, and any Windows Explorer windows overlay the picture! The program gives you the option of hiding these desktop icons. Or, another option hides the icons and minimizes all windows, leaving a small navigation window in the lower right corner of your screen. However, when you do this, you can only navigate forward and backward.

    Picture Selection: Either forward or backward if you aren't in the auto-advance mode.

    Pan & Zoom: None, since this is a packaged slide show.

    Captioning: The only caption allowed is the display of the picture file name centered near the bottom of the screen.

    Transition Effects: None.

    Sound/Audio: Sound files cannot be played in the background or associated with any picture. While the program claims to play sounds, the sounds are actually picture transition sounds that are intended to simulate a camera click (another odd feature no other slide show program has).

    Problems: Unfortunately, the program had the annoying habit of crashing when you minimized it, and then tried to restore it from the taskbar, leaving the last displayed picture as a desktop background. You then have to run a companion program called "Restore Desktop".

    Orientation Changes: None
    Picture Information: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    SlideShow Desktop is a minimum-featured slide show building program that is hampered by showing its pictures on the desktop, where it can interfere with your other desktop items.

    Other Reviews:


    go back SlideShow Ultra Gold 6.0.11 (CMB Software - cmbsoftware.com - Shareware - $20.00)

    Program Overviewe: SlideShow Ultra Gold is used to create a packaged slide show.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: The demo version of SlideShow Ultra Gold has full capability, but you are limited to displaying a maximum of 5 pictures. A purchase reminder pops up after the display of two pictures.

    Picture Selection: There is no ability to view pictures for general picture browsing. Instead, you build a fixed slide show (see below).

    Slide Show: You begin by building a slide show with pictures from one or more file directories. There is no automated picture sorting (e.g., by picture name), but the picture display order may be manually changed by use of the "move up" or "move down" buttons within the picture name list. There are no thumbnail images to assist you, which makes it very difficult to build the slide show display list, unless the picture file names are very descriptive.

    Size & Positioning: Pictures can be displayed in a variety of sizes and positions in the slide show (invoked by the Preview button). However, once the slide show starts, there is no way to manually control which picture displays next. A picture is displayed by overlaying the prior picture. This scheme sometimes causes a messy appearance when the current picture is smaller than the previous picture.

    Pan & Zoom: None, since these operations really aren't compatible with a canned slide show.

    Captioning: A caption can be positioned at various places on the picture. Except for this caption, no other picture information can be displayed. Surprisingly, the caption can be displayed with a variety of effects (e.g., "slide up"), in addition to controlling the annotation font style, color, and gradient. No other slide show program offers this annotation flexibility.

    Sound/Audio: You can associate a sound file with a picture. When this is done, the sound file will play as it's picture is being displayed (but it will keep playing even if the slide advances!). You can also specify a list of sound files to play in the background.

    Transition Effects: There are about 100 transition effects available. You may select a particular transition effect, no transition effect, or a random transition effect for a specific picture or for all pictures.

    Orientation Changes: None
    Picture Information: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    Slide Show Ultra Gold is a reasonably good program for creating packaged slide shows. It is not at all suitable for browsing a set of pictures.


    go back Thumber 3.35 (TawbaWare - www.tawbaware.com/thumber.htm - Shareware - $18.00)

    Evaluation Version Limitations: Some features are limited.

    Program Overview:Thumber is a multi-purpose digital imaging tool which can be used to create web pages, display image information, rename files, add comments, view and edit images, etc. It only works with JPEG images, and is strongly focused on digital cameras and the creation of web pages. As such, it is very weak in its "slide show" display capabilities.

    Picture Selection: You begin by selecting a file directory of pictures. A thumbnail of the selected picture is displayed, and you may go backward or forward by one or 10 pictures - or to the first or last picture. There is no way to go to a specific picture.

    There is no way to change the display order.

    Size & Positioning:Most important, there is no way to get other than a thumbnail view of the picture (hence no pan or zoom capability). Thumber is therefore not really a general picture display program, as are the other programs evaluated here.

    Orientation Changes: The picture can be rotated in positive or negative 90 degree increments.

    Picture Information: Thumber does have the capability of showing the EXIF information embedded within a picture, and does a reasonably good job of extracting it accurately. Unfortunately, its presentation of this information is sometimes inaccurate (e.g., White Balance and Metering Mode) and incomplete (e.g., Exposure Mode).

    While Thumber can read and edit "Picture Comments", this data is not a standard EXIF tag (according to Thumber's Help file). Hence it is very unlikely that other software will be able to read this comment information.

    Pan & Zoom: None
    Slide Show: None
    Sound/Audio: None
    Captioning: None
    Transition Effects: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    Thumber is not really a general "slide show" program. Instead, its strong point is in the creation of web page picture sets and the display of picture EXIF tag information.


    go back UniView 1.65 (Binary Soft, Inc. - www.binary-soft.com/uniview/uniview.htm - Shareware - $29.00)

    Program Overview: "UniView lets you view, convert and manipulate all kinds of images easily!"

    Evaluation Version Limitations: All features are enabled, but only for the 30-day evaluation period.

    UniView reads an enormous amount of picture file types. It begins by asking for a directory of pictures to view, and proceeds to display them.

    Picture Selection: Picture Selection is a bit crude as you can only go forward or backward via the tool bar (or via a mouse right-click). You do have the option of randomly selecting the next picture via the option of displaying the file list box, where you can select by file name. While you can display the thumbnails, you can't select by them. (They optionally replace the main image.)

    There is no picture ordering option.

    Size & Positioning: Each picture is displayed by default at a 1:1 scale, so different sized pictures typically are either too big or too small. By hitting "/" on the keypad, you can fit the image to the screen - but you must do this for each image.

    Pan & Zoom: There is a zoom-in/out capability, but it's not clear where the zoom point is. So if you want to zoom into a particular area, you must alternately zoom and pan repeatedly to get there.

    Slide Show: There is a full-screen slide show mode. Unfortunately, this mode suffers from two problems: it refuses to display some pictures due to their internal data (no other slide show programs report the error), and all pictures are displayed at a 1:1 magnification, meaning that some are too big and some are too small. That's rather surprising, since a slide show loses much of its value if you can't see the full picture.

    Transition Effects: Over 140 transition effects are available in the full-screen slide show mode.

    Other Features: The large number of supported image formats along with batch file operations makes for impressive image conversion capability.

    Orientation Changes: None
    Sound/Audio: None
    Picture Information: None
    Captioning: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    UniView is a simple slide show program with significant limitations.Its strong point appears to be picture file format conversion.


    go back VuePrint Pro 8.0 (Hamrick Software - www.hamrick.com - Shareware - $29.95)

    Program Overview: VuePrint Pro is designed to view and print images, crop them, and convert from one format to another.

    Evaluation Version Limitations: All features are enabled, but every picture has a watermark consisting of many large "$" signs.

    Program Installation: VuePrint Pro has a very unusual installation procedure, and places its files in the Windows directory instead of the Program Files directory, so after installation, you won't find it via Start|All Programs|VuePrint Pro. Instead it's in c:\windows\vuepro32.exe. It's uninstall procedure is also unusual, so use caution.

    Picture Selection: As in most slide show programs, you begin by selecting a file directory of pictures. The spacebar causes the next picture to be displayed, while the Backspace key moves to the previous picture. Enter selects a random picture. To go to a specific picture, select File|Display Thumbnails (or type T) and click on the thumbnail picture. Unfortunately the implementation suffers from some significant problems:

    • The thumbnails draw very slowly.
    • If transition effects are enabled, they also apply to the thumbnails, making them draw even more slowly.
    • The default thumbnail size is too big - only about 12 of them fit within the window.
    • Thumbnails that don't fit in the window are simply ignored (no scrollbar), so it becomes impossible to select the rest of the pictures!

    You can also go directly to a specific picture; BUT, you have to know the picture's filename. No picture name list is shown to assist you.

    You have your choice of the standard display order (alphabetical) or random.

    Size & Positioning: When a picture displays, it will fill the dispaly window (fit to screen) if it is too big. It will display smaller (1:1) if it is too small. The display window can be resized and repositioned.

    Pan & Zoom: Left clicking on a point will cause a zoom-in on that point, while right clicking will zoom out at that point. A left-drag-click will cause a zoom to the rectangular area generated. Zooming is done by the arrow keys (keyboard arrow keys also). You can't pan using the mouse. Unfortunately, the pan and zoom actions are significantly hindered by the program applying its transition effect to every pan and zoom. Transition effects should only operate between different pictures, not on different views of the same picture.

    Orientation Changes: Mirror (left-to-right), and Flip (top-to-bottom) are available. Rotate only goes one direction.

    Slide Show: A single click starts a slide show. You can control the number of seconds a slide shows.

    Picture Information: By typing "N" you can see a "Comments" window, which in reality is a fairly good list of all the EXIF data within the picture. Unfortunately, some of the data values aren't decoded, e.g., a metering mode of "5" is fairly useless, as is a flash value of "25". Tag UserComment, which often contains useful information, is sometimes displayed as a series of hex codes. Importantly, EXIF tag Image Description is displayed (even multiple lines). Command Edit|Edit Comments allows you to edit this EXIF information, but the edits don't affect the picture file for some reason (a bug?). Finally, while this Comments window can be resized and moved around, there is no way to selectively display specific EXIF tags, nor any way to change the font of the text.

    Transition Effects: There are about 12 transition effects you can choose from (under Options|Effects).

    Sound/Audio: VuePrint Pro claims to support sound files, but it didn't play the sound files I had in my picture directory. The help file didn't really say how to activate these sound (e.g., WAV) files either.

    Printing: You can only print a single full-size picture on a page.

    Captioning: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    Other Comments: VuePrint's website release notes indicate that the program hasn't been updated in several years. It's badly outdated install/uninstall procedure supports this. It's also somewhat annoying that in the evaluation version, every picture has large "$" symbols (a watermark) superimposed on it.

    In many ways VuePrint Pro is one of the best slide show programs available. Unfortunately, it suffers from several serious shortcommings (e.g., installation, lack of recent support, thumbnail selection).


    go back Windows Picture and Fax Viewer (Microsoft - www.Microsoft.com - Free - Bundled with Windows XP)

    Program Overview: This is the default picture viewer for Windows XP. When you double-click on an image file, it is displayed very quickly in full screen mode. Hence, it is a great way to quickly look at the picture in an image file.

    Picture Selection: Whether in normal or slide show mode, you can only navigate forward or backward one picture at a time - you cannot move to the first or last picture, or to a specific picture. As this implies, there are also no thumbnail representations of the pictures. (The assumption may be that you use View|Thumbnails on the folder files.)

    There is no ability to change the display order.

    Pan & Zoom: Zoom in/out is done via a mouse click, and Pan is implemented via scroll bars (or holding down the Control key while dragging the mouse).

    Size & Positioning: The picture almost fills the viewing window, which can be resized and repositioned.

    Orientation Changes: The picture can be rotated clockwise or counter-clockwise, but it cannot be flipped horizontally or vertically.

    Slide Show: A click of a button starts the slide show in full-screen mode. Each picture shows for about 5 seconds, but a mouse click causes the picture to advance.

    Printing: Printing is done by the "Photo Printing Wizard", which allows you to select which pictures to print, the printer setup to use, and which of several picture layouts to use on the printed page (e.g., full sheet, 5x7, 4x6, wallet size).

    Sound/Audio: None
    Picture Information: None
    Captioning: None
    Transition Effects: None
    Wallpaper: None
    Simulated Frames: None

    Windows Picture and Fax Viewer is a simple, free, and fast slide show program. It will likely be your first choice when you want to quickly view a set of pictures. If you have Windows XP, you already have it!


    go back XnView 1.74 (Pierre-E Gougelet - www.xnview.com - Freeware)

    Program Overview: The goal of XnView is To View and Convert Files. While it seems to be able to read/convert hundereds of different file formats, its ability to display them is somewhat limited.

    XnView has no installation program - you unzip to a directory and run the EXE file from there. Upon startup, you select a file directory of pictures.

    Picture Selection: A toolbar across the top of the screen lets you move to the next or previous picture. You can go to the first or last picture via a menu selection. Or, all four options can be invoked via the keypad. But there is no way to go to a specific picture. You can, however, under Tools|Options|Sort Directory specify the display order by name, date, type, or size (or the reverse of these).

    Pan and Zoom: Zooming is done via specifying a selection rectangle. Once zoomed, panning is done via the arrow keys - it can't be done via the mouse. An alternate way to zoom is to click on the tool bar magnifier icons. The zoom point is then referenced to mid-screen only.

    Picture Size: The picture appears within a window, which in turn is inside the application window. While you can make the picture window "full screen", once you do this you no longer can pan, zoom, or go to another picture - you can just return to the prior view.

    Slide Show: There is a separate "slide show" mode where each picture is fit to the entire screen. However, before entering this mode, you must first "build" a slide show by specifying individual picture files or picture file directories.

    Picture Selection: In Slide Show mode, only the up-arrow (next picture) and down-arrow (previous picture) selections are available.

    Picture Information: None
    Captioning: None
    Transition Effects: None
    Audio: None
    Printing: None
    Simulated Frames: None
    Wallpaper: None

    While XnView is a minimum-featured slide show program, it can handle an extremely wide variety of image formats. But surprisingly, it lacks an installation program.

    Other Reviews:


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