Vizrea Snap Service Review

Vizrea is a new photo sharing service designed to have your camera phone’s photo collection sync with your PC’s photos. Photos aren’t the only things you can share, though. Any video or audio you’ve grabbed with your phone will be shared as well, via Vizrea’s simple Web interface. The service is free and is good for the price. However, Vizrea does have areas where it doesn’t work well and needs improvements.

Features and Design

Vizrea’s service is based upon three sections: Web, Phone, and PC. The idea is that all your pictures among the three platforms sync in unison. Let’s say you take a picture with your camera phone and upload it with the Vizrea software. When you get home, you don’t have to worry about uploading the same picture to both your PC and website; Vizrea will automatically place that picture on your personal Vizrea site and let you browse for the photo on your PC with their software.

When I spoke to CEO Michael Toutonghi last month about his new service, he mentioned that hardly anyone ever gets their camera phone pictures off their phone. Now it’s easy, thanks to his service.

Setup and Use/Performance

The camera phone software currently is available only as a Symbian Series 60 application, which means that you’re pretty much out of luck if your phone doesn’t have a Nokia logo. I used a Nokia 6682 with Vizrea; the software was easy to install onto the phone. Once installed, you’ll need to enter your username and password so that it can sync with your account. You’re then presented with an easy menu, where you can view your content, upload content, or check out your friends’ content. This is where Vizrea becomes unique and useful. Let’s say you added a friend to your Vizrea contacts list and she takes a good picture of you and your brother. To show him the picture, all you’d have to do is go to “Friends’ Content” and look it up. Simple and powerful.

Vizrea on a Nokia PhoneWhen you use your mobile phone to take a picture, you’ll be able to upload it to your Vizrea account immediately, making pictures available to your friends. Vizrea for Series 60 phones even lets you make a simple, yet straightforward blog post using your keypad. This is a great way to give an update on an event where you’re taking pictures.

Your pictures are stored centrally using Vizrea’s software. Vizrea doesn’t want you to store all of your pictures and movies on their server, so they use your computer as the main hub. However, Vizrea currently makes their software only for Windows XP. This is a drawback, as Vizrea would work perfectly with iPhoto integration on Mac OS X. The interface for the Windows software is relatively easy to use, but it does have a lot of choices. It’s consequently difficult to call the software “user-friendly.” Endless buttons and lengthy menus make the interface seem jumbled and thrown together. Perhaps if Vizrea had cut out options like event posting, the software could be more streamlined.

The PC software lets you view things like your personal content, “Friends’ Content,” and devices linked to your Vizrea account. There is also a “Recycle Bin” for permanently deleting photos and media from your account. You’ll also find a multitude of repeat-use buttons, such as a Search function. There seem to be at least three ways to search through your pictures; this frustratingly adds to the clutter on the screen. Had Vizrea stuck to a simple layout and interface like their phone software, they would have a winning software combination. You can also do things such as creating blog posts, making new photo collections, and importing pictures from your hard drive to add to your Vizrea account.

Vizrea Software
The Vizrea software for your PC; sorry no Mac’s allowed

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Lastly, Vizrea allows you to have a personal website. This website is a showcase for your content, blog posts, and media. The problem with the web interface, though, lies in its layout. Your personal page looks like someone read A Beginner’s Guide to CSS, then tried to create a website. It looks hideous, yet the ability to choose from various themes doesn’t help. For instance, there is a left-hand column showing your picture collections labeled “Side.” The use of AJAX technology would have been nice to use, because having to reload for features like “Commenting” is annoying. Like I said, issues like these detract from Vizrea’s service and makes it seem more like a mid-term project for a computer class.

The right-hand side of your personal webpage is even messier. It’s labeled “Content” and has several items that are hard to distinguish from one another. Your latest pictures could reside on the bottom, but your latest blog post could be on the top. Each “item” such as a picture or a blog post has its own individual page (however, for a blog post with only a sentence or two, the window used to display this content takes up too much room.) Granted, these pages are done well and somewhat resemble Flickr. This is how the rest of the site should have been done; it’s a shame Vizrea decided not to organize and plan better for their web service. Any photos you upload from your phone will go right to your website and will be available immediately. This is also a nice feature for making content quickly accessible.

Vizrea Website

Your own custom blog on the Vizrea website

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As for other menus on the web interface, such as Preferences and Contacts, the layout is simple and easy to use; I can’t imagine why Vizrea would use this layout only on these other menus. Contacts, for example, uses AJAX technology to easily add groups, so that you can distinguish co-workers from friends, etc.

The rest of the website that Vizrea offers is nothing spectacular. You won’t be finding any unique features that stand out from other sites. If you’re looking to share your photos in a fashionable and easy manner, go with something like Flickr, not Vizrea. Vizrea is not focused enough on one area and tries to do several things in a lackluster fashion. Here are some sites that you may be interested in as an alternative to vizrea:

www.flickr.com – One of the most popular photo sharing services on the web. You can even send pictures using your mobile phone. Cost: Free w/ pro option

www.bubbleshare.com – New Web 2.0 Photo sharing service. Cannot send pictures from your phone. Cost: Free

www.blogger.com – Create your own web blog and upload content including pictures directly from your PC. Cost: Free

www.textamerica.com – Blog directly from your mobile phones. You can upload pictures from your phone here too. Cost: Free

Conclusion

Vizrea is a new service that already has a lot of competition. Its standout feature is the Series 60 software for mobile phones, which allows you to get your pictures off your phone and on the web. The overall service is nothing special, despite being free. Lack of any support for Mac OS X is a huge problem that could probably be solved with an iPhoto plug-in. Their website needs a complete makeover. People don’t want themes; they want a user-friendly experience and a nice, sleek layout. Perhaps Vizrea should focus solely on mobile phone content and avoid the rest of the mediums. With this service being free, though, you can’t complain too much.

Pros:

  • Gets pictures off your phone and on the web
  • Syncs your pictures from all your compatible devices

Cons:

  • No Mac OS X support
  • Horrible web interface
  • PC software is cluttered and needs improvement
  • Mobile software is Symbian Series 60 only