VuPoint Digital Photo Converter PC-C520-VP

These days, it's hard deciding what you should do with items leftover from antiquated technology. Printed photographs have posed a particular problem since most people find them too sentimental to throw away, too much of a waste to box up and ignore, or too overwhelming to scan and archive.

VuPoint offers a solution to this problem with its Digital Photo Converter PC-C520-VP. Designed with the techno-phobe in mind, the PC-C520-VP lets you slip a printed picture into an appropriate photo tray (depending on whether it measures 3-by-5, 4-by-6, or 5-by-7), insert it into the PC-C520-VP's photo tray slot, and press the copy button. The unit will take care of the rest, making a digital copy of your photo.

The PC-C520-VP does not have a Mac driver to install or any photo editing software, and it doesn't work like a scanner. Before you decide to copy a picture, you can view a small preview of it through the PC-C520-VP's 2.4-inch color LCD-you don't control or preview copies on your Mac. Through this preview, we found that our test unit copied photos a bit off angle, and we had no choice but to manually hold each photo through the slot to straighten it during the copying process.

Considering that this product is made for users who value convenience, the interface is anything but. The controls are confusing, with arbitrary symbols that denote their uses, making the machine a bit counter-intuitive. Once you do get the hang of it (after reading the directions repeatedly and very closely), the PC-C520-VP is simple to use.

When you plug the PC-C520-VP to your computer, it appears as an external 32MB disk with all your pictures neatly copied as JPEGs at 2592-by-1800-pixel resolution. Unfortunately, the PC-C520-VP does not allow you to simultaneously upload, edit, or rename new images while being plugged into a computer. You have to load pictures in bunches.

Making a copy of a photo takes only a few seconds. The PC-C520-VP has a slideshow feature that allows you to review all the pictures stored in its memory. Before copying, your only image adjustments are for exposure (between -2EV and +2EV), and rotation. The PC-C520-VP has a TV output option that lets you to plug in a video cable for a TV.

Macworld's buying advice

The PC-C520-VP is a light and quiet machine that can usher in your old photos into the digital world. It is significantly faster and simpler than using a scanner, but that convenience comes at a cost aside from the $130 price. The PC-C520-VP does not offer a high level of image quality and editing options. However, it does deliver to those it was designed for: people who want an easy and quick solution to electronically store all their photos without any messy techno mumbo-jumbo getting in the way.

[Lynn La is a Macworld staff editor.]

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