Still Snappy After All These Years

SAN FRANCISCO (03/21/2000) - In a world of gadgets that deliver less than they promise, Play Inc.'s Snappy has long been a refreshing exception. The latest edition of this cell phone-size mechanism for capturing still images from video continues the tradition: It's handier and more versatile than ever.

Like earlier versions, Snappy 4 screws into your PC's printer port and works with input from a camcorder, VCR, or DVD player. The device generates great-looking stills in 17 file formats (10 of them previously unavailable to Snappy users), making a huge range of additional graphics and image-editing apps accessible to it. Image cropping is easier, and a new rotation feature lets you correct for tilted images. A new slider bar lets you preview your images at different compression ratios; that's handy if you intend to post captured photos on the Web or e-mail them to others.

The new version includes Snap Pad, a display that resembles a film strip and archives thumbnails of all your snapped images; and Play Performer, a utility that lets you turn your snapped images into a self-running show replete with video-like transitions (wipes and fades, for example), titles, and canned music.

If you're a satisfied owner of a previous release, you needn't upgrade to Snappy 4, but the new version does make a good product even better.

Grab that puppy: Snappy creates instant, high-resolution digital images from many video sources.

Snappy 4

Pro: A breeze to use; excellent-quality output.

Con: Nothing major.

Value: Delivers more than it promises at a fair price.

Street price: $170



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