The concept of using a television to display photos has been around since even before the rise of the digital camera and the ubiquity of digital images. Unfortunately, it’s never quite gained the audience manufacturers have always hoped for. Kodak attempted it back in the early 1990’s with its Photo CD players, but they never quite gained widespread acceptance, and successive attempts by other companies haven’t garnered much more success.
The limited resolution of a television set was one major limiting factor for viewing anything but snapshots, but high-definition sets are helping to change that. Sony recently released its own digital photo album specifically for HD sets, the HDMS-S1D Digital Photo Album, which allows users to view all their photos with much more resolution.
From a historical perspective, this leap in quality will be the S1D’s biggest selling point. A standard definition television can only handle digital images of 640 x 480, far below what most modern digital cameras are capable of capturing. By contrast, a 1080i set can effectively display an image of 1920 x 1080 – or about 2.0 megapixels in the terminology common to digital cameras. As most HDTV owners already know, this increase makes a dramatic difference in video, and the same will of course apply to photos.
The S1D’s built-in storage also sets it apart from other options. With 80GB of hard drive space, the unit can handle up to 50,000 photos, depending on resolution. Even the most avid amateur photographer should have some difficulty filling up all that space. Files can be transferred to the unit via a host of different memory card options, including MemoryStick PRO Duo, SD-Card, MMC, xD-Picture Card, CompactFlash, and MicroMedia. A CD/DVD drive provides one more option for loading up the drive with photos, and can also be used to archive photos on writable CDs and DVDs.
Image Courtesy of Sony
Of course, many of the advantages of a digital album would be lost without some bells and whistles, and the S1D has plenty. Sony’s x-Pict Story HD allows viewers to arrange their shots into slideshows, then play with options like transitions, music, and visual effects. The x-ScrapBook feature can be used to create custom-designed scrapbook pages. And if you would really just rather browse photos as you would on a computer, you can do that too, with the built-in browser function, or the search tool. The unit can even send off batches of photos to be printed when paired with a Pict-Bridge compatible printer.
Sony’s HDMS-S1D retails at $399.99 USD, placing it well above other devices that can be used to show photos on a TV, but it includes features that are also well above the competition. High-def capability and 80GB of storage make this standalone unit ideal for the casual photographer who wants to view his or her photos with better quality. Until more HD options come along, the S1D is the HD owners’ best option for viewing a lifetime’s worth of pictures with one device. Read more about the HDMS-S1D from Sony’s website.