Nixvue Digital Album review, Phil Askey, June 2001

The Nixvue Digital Album is a 10 GB (or 20 GB) portable storage device designed to be used by the digital photographer in the field to offload images from a memory card. Its contents can then later be transfered to a computer via USB. The Digitial Album takes this concept a step further by also providing a TV interface with which you can browse thumbnails and full size images and also print directly to compatible printers.

We first picked up on the Digital Album back in December last year when it was a very basic prototype. During a visit to Singapore I got an exclusive look at this interesting product in its early design phase, it had come along some but was still definetly a prototype. During PMA 2001 Nixvue won the DIMA "Innovative Digital Product" award for the Digital Album. Shortly after that we received a review unit, however I wasn't totally happy with its performance it often crashed, battery life wasn't good and certain incompatibilities were clear.

For the last two months Nixvue's engineers have been working hard to iron out these bugs and we now have the final incarnation of the Nixvue Digital Album, a far more rounded and stable product than previously seen (note the revision used for this review is later than that seen on other sites).

Nixvue Digital Album Specifications

System Contents Digital Album, Cradle, Charger, Batteries, Infrared Remote, CF adapter
Capacity 10 GB / 20 GB
Input Interface PCMCIA Type II
Input Support (via PCMCIA adapter) - Compact Flash Type I/II (inc. Microdrive), SmartMedia, Memory Stick, SD/MMC
Communications USB, Parallel
Printing support Epson compatible photo printers (more to be made available later)
Software Firmware updatable
Video Output RCA jack (PAL / NTSC switchable)
Control Infrared Remote Control
Power Lithium-Ion rechargeable battery (800 mAh, 3.6V; 28 Wh) supplied
Charger AC adapter / charger connects to cradle (5V DC). Input: 100 - 200 V AC
Dimensions Digital Album: 146 x 83 x 29 mm (5.7 x 3.3 x 1.1 in)
Cradle: 157 x 113 x 72 mm (6.2 x 4.4 x 2.8 in)
Weight Digital Album: 280 g
Cradle: 260 g
Price 10 GB unit: US$499
20 GB unit: US$599

In the box

This is the first time we've seen a full retail box for the Digital Album. Inside you'll find the Digital Album itself, the Lithium-Ion battery, Cradle, AC Power adapter (100-240V), Remote control (and battery), a PCMCIA CF Type I adapter, soft case (with shoulder strap), RCA video cable, USB cable, Software CD-ROM and printed user manual.


Design: Digital Album

The Digital Album itself is a fairly standard 'chunky PDA' size. On the front you'll find the small LCD display, directly below this are the five function buttons. On the back of the unit is the battery compartment (you shouldn't need to open this after you've inserted the batteries for the first time). The top of the Digital Album has the PCMCIA slot, the base fits into the cradle. Build quality is acceptable, though not up to the standards of some manufacturers out there (oh, and I hate that logo).

Here's a suggestion to Nixvue's design department for the Digital Album mk2: either make the whole unit from transparent blue, or the whole of the unit from silver or the front from silver and the back from transparent blue. The current 'design' looks odd, the battery compartment door almost looks as though it doesn't belong.

Design: Cradle

The Cradle sits on four rubber feet, the main slot in the top will hold the digital album angled back slightly. Around the back you'll find the connectors, from left to right: DC input (5 V), USB, Parallel and Video Out (RCA jack).


The Digital Album's battery fits into the battery compartment on the back of the unit. Simply slide the compartment door off, plug the battery in and close. Hopefully this will be the only time you'll need to do this.

The battery is a 3.6 V 800 mAh Lithium-Ion pack which charges in the unit. Full battery life tests can be found in the performance section of this review.

Remote Control

The Digital Album is supplied with a 'super slim' remote control. This is used to operate the unit when it's in TV mode. There's no option to use the unit in TV mode without this remote so don't lose it.

The remote is powered by a single Lithium 'button battery'.

Soft Case

Supplied is this protective soft case which has a velcro closing flap and comes with a shoulder strap. This protects the Digital Album from occasional knocks while being carried.