NixVue Vista

Nixvue Vista

Nixvue System's Vista is a small, portable, battery-operated device that lets you store, display and optionally print your digital camera images. This pocket-sized wonder can be purchased with a 5-, 10-, 20-, or 30-Gigabyte hard drive to meet the needs of any user from amateur to professional. The Vista is available from $449 (5GB) to $649 (30GB) from JOBO Fototechnic, Inc.

You no longer have to invest in additional flash memory cards or carry a bulky and expensive laptop just to be able take your camera on an extended vacation or professional assignment. All you need is one or two memory cards and a Vista. Now you can shoot all your pictures in high resolution mode - all of the time!

The versatile Vista doesn't need to be stuck away in the closet after the vacation is over. Take it anywhere to show-off your photos on its built-in 1.8-inch color LCD screen. Leave it hooked up to the TV and put on a slideshow of your favorite digital images whenever friends stop by. Many people will be able to store their entire digital library on its massive internal hard drive. Take it with you for use as a visual presentation tool at business meetings--just be ready to tell everyone where you bought it as I'm sure they'll want one too. It can also be used to easily transport large amounts of data between computers.

The Vista is equipped with a CompactFlash (CF) Type II card slot and can read and write to CF Type I or II cards including the IBM Microdrive. SmartMedia, Memory Stick, Secure Digital and MultiMediaCards can be used with the optional CF adapter. The Vista is compatible with digicams from consumer-priced models all the way up to professional cameras like the Canon D60 or Nikon D1X. It can store any type of image, movie, sound or data file. 

Transfering Files from Flash Cards

Nixvue Vista

The main function of the Vista is to act as a portable storage unit for digital camera images. Transfering images from CF cards to the Vista is as simple as putting the card in the slot, turning the unit on, selecting the "COPY FROM CF CARD" option from the menu and pressing the Enter button. The process is quick and automatic. 

Nixvue Vista

The animated frame above shows the screen display during a normal COPY and VERIFY operation. The progress of the COPY operation is indicated by a bar icon with five segments that fill-in to indicate its progress. After the COPY process is finished you are returned to the menu. The VERIFY option will insure that the files were properly copied with no errors. Then use the Erase function to delete the files on your memory card and use it again and again.

Data Transfer Tests (~250MB of mixed JPG, TIFF, MPG)
SanDisk Ultra 512MB CF3:400:19
Lexar 10X 256MB CF3:000:12
IBM 1GB Microdrive3:080:10

Nixvue Vista

You can check the amount of free DISK SPACE on the Vista's hard drive at any time. 

Connecting to Host PC

Nixvue Vista

On the side is a USB 1.1 port to connect to the host PC. This is used for transfering files to/from the Vista's hard drive to the computer. Nixvue also has an optional IEEE 1394 FireWire or USB 2.0 port that connects on the end. FireWire is about 40 times faster than USB 1.1 and is standard on many new Mac computers and can be easily added to most Windows PCs. 

Nixvue Vista

When the Vista is connected to the computer its internal hard drive appears as another removeable drive. You can copy or read image files to or from it using the utilities that you're already familiar with, no special programs are needed.

USB drivers are supplied for Windows 98SE. No drivers are needed for Windows XP, ME or 2000, Mac OS 9.1+ or Linux, the Vista will be recognized as a Mass Storage compliant device whenever the USB cable is plugged in, the unit is turned on and you have selected "TURN ON USB."

The unit we reviewed was only equipped for USB 1.1 and it is handy but slow. I could transfer a full 1GB Microdrive to the Vista in about 12m:30s but it took nearly twenty minutes to transfer that same Gigabyte of data from the Vista to my P4 2000Mhz computer running Windows XP Pro. 

Viewing Images on the Color LCD

Just like viewing images on your digicam's color LCD, you can do the same thing on the Vista's color screen. You can search through your files by name or better yet, use the thumbnail browser which displays 12 small images per page. Find one you want to view fullscreen then just press the OK button.

You can also instruct the Vista to display an automated slideshow of all the images in any folder stored on the hard drive. These slideshows can be displayed on the color LCD or look down this page a bit and see how you can easily connect to most TV or display monitors. 

Nixvue Vista

And just like most digicams, the image on the screen can be magnified so you can check details like color, focus and composition. Zoom-in to your photos with 2x, 4x or 8x magnification and then pan around them. 

Nixvue Vista

You can also display the embedded EXIF camera and exposure data that is recorded by all modern digital cameras. 

Nixvue Vista

Nixvue Vista

The luminosity histogram is usually only found on higher end cameras but the Vista has this feature built in too. 

Connecting to a TV

Nixvue Vista

The included video cable lets you connect the Vista to a television set, the video out signal is selectable for eiter NTSC or PAL standards. Playback on the TV is controlled by the buttons on the unit or with the included infrared remote control. You can run an automated slide show of any folder of images or manually control the viewing sequence.

Note that although you can copy all image formats from your flash memory cards, the Vista (as of firmware version 1.05) will only view JPG, Nikon raw NEF and Canon raw CRW type images on the television. The manual or automatic slideshow (viewing) feature ignores other formats such as TIF, BMP, other raw formats and movie files. 

Nixvue Vista

Access to the stored files is via an on-screen file and menu system that will be very familiar to Windows users. Commands are input via the front panel buttons and there's pull-down menus for File, Edit, View, Options or Help. File menu selections for Delete, Rename, New Folder and Print. It should be noted that the Vista's operating system fully supports long file names, no "8.3" limited or truncated filenames. 

Nixvue Vista

If you'd rather browse thorugh your files in a visual manner then use the Thumbnail Mode instead of the default Text Mode. As you'd expect, the images will be displayed as small thumbnail pictures and directories appear as yellow folder icons. 

Delkin PicturePAD

Just like on the Vista's color LCD in standalone mode, you can display the image's Exif data on the TV screen. Rather than it taking 2 screens on the small LCD, all of the info is displayed on just one screen. 

Delkin PicturePAD

And you can display the luminosity histogram chart.

Delkin PicturePAD

The image can be zoomed 2X, 4X or 8X and then you can scroll around inside of it. 

Delkin PicturePAD

You can rotate images in 90° increments so there's no problem displaying pictures taken in portrait mode. 

Nixvue Vista

The Options menu lets you cut, copy and paste files between folders, delete files, empty the recycle bin, copy files from the Vista to a flash card or start a slideshow. 

Nixvue Vista

Remote Control Layout
Power On/OffFunction Key F1Function Key F2Function Key   F3
Thumbnail ModeSlideshow ModeInformation Button
MenuTAB ButtonOK ButtonBackspace DEL
Rotate Cursor UP 
Zoom OUT  Cursor DOWN 

The infrared remote control allows the user to turn the unit on/off, select pull-down menus, navigate (up. down, left, right) menus and file screens, zoom in and out of pictures, start / stop slideshows, enable thumbnail mode, rotate portrait mode images and more. The remote can be used whenever the unit is in Video Output mode. 

Nixvue Vista

The Vista is completely portable thanks to a small but powerful 3.7v 1400mAh rechargeable lithium battery with enough power for approx. 40 downloads from a 64MB flash card. Fully charged it can run the unit in playback continuously for about 1 hour 10 minutes.

The battery is recharged when the Vista is plugged into the included AC power adapter. Charging time for a completely depleted battery pack is about 2.5 hours. Because this is a lithium type battery, it can be "topped off" at any time without shortening the overall duty life of the battery. 

Direct Printing

The Vista has an optional parallel printer port that can be attached to the end of the unit. This allows for directly connecting to a photo-quality printer. Currently supported are the Epson Stylus Photo 750, 780, 790, 890, 1280 and 1290 printers. Also supported are all of the HP inkjet PhotoSmart and DeskJet printers. more printer drivers will be made available on their website in the future.

Using the on-screen menu you pull down the File menu and there is both a Print and Print Setup option just like those found in Windows. You can change the size of the paper and set printer options before printing. 

Nixvue Vista

Included is a nice padded carrying case with belt loops and a shoulder strap. The Vista is small enough to fit in your pants pocket but it's probably safer stored in the carrying case. 

The Vista package includes:
  • Nixvue Vista w/5GB to 30GB hard drive
  • Rechargeable lithium battery
  • 110/240V AC power adapter
  • Infrared remote control
  • CD-ROM with USB drivers
  • User's Manual and Quick Start Guide
  • Padded Carrying case
  • USB cable
  • Composite video RCA cable

Vista Technical Data

Dimensions and weight
5.8 x 3.3 x 1.2 inches / 10.23 ounces)

LCD Display
1.8-inch TFT color LCD

Interfaces (standard)
USB, Composite video, DC power in, CF/2 card slot

Interfaces (optional)
IEEE 1394 Firewire, USB 2.0, Parallel, MP3

Storage Capacity
2.5" HDD, 5GB, 10GB, 20GB or 30GB

Lithium ion rechargeable battery
3.7v 1400mAh

Battery Life:
A full charge, 30-45 transfers from 64MB flash card
Up to 1 hour 10 minutes of continuous playback

Software and firmware upgradeable

Steve's Conclusion

The Nixvue Vista is the updated version of the Digital Album and now includes a built-in 1.8-inch color LCD display for viewing your images without need of a computer or television set. The Vista answers the need for high-capacity, portable storage for today's digi-photographers. Professional users are already familiar with how large the images are from their six-megapixel digital SLR cameras. And now with consumer digicams packing three-, four- and five-megapixel imagers everybody is finding out that it takes a lot of storage space to handle all of their vacation photos.

You don't want to have to buy a dozen memory cards, limit your picture taking or shoot everything in low resolution when you take that "once in a lifetime vacation." And you probably don't want to drag along a bulky and expensive laptop computer either -- they get stolen out of hotel rooms all the time. So the solution is to put a small and portable storage unit on your hip or in your gadget bag that can hold thousands and thousands of images. The Vista is available in various capacities from 5GB to 30GB so no matter what your storage needs are they have you covered. Transfering files from flash card to the Vista is a snap, just stick the card in the slot and press one button - it's done in minutes!

The original Digital Album was great but a lot of us asked for the ability to view our stored images so the new Vista with its built-in color LCD was the result. You can view images fullscreen with up to 8x magnification, exam the Exif data and even check the luminosity histogram of any image you want--right in the palm of your hand. The Vista can be used as a handheld image gallery to display your pictures, anytime, anywhere. And when you're near a television set just plug it in and show your images on the "big screen," and control the show from a distance with the included infrared remote.

When you get home all you need do is plug in the USB 1.1 (or optional USB 2.0 or FireWire) cable and download all of your images to your desktop computer. With today's Windows XP, ME, 2000 or Mac OS 9.1+ operating systems you don't even need to load any drivers, it's truly plug-n-play now. USB drivers are included for those using Windows 98SE. Once connected the Vista "looks" just like a removeable drive to the operating system so you can copy, move or delete files with your usual file management programs, no special software is needed.

I won't kid you, USB 1.1 is slow contrary to all the claims of it being a "high speed" protocol. It may be high speed when compared to RS-232 serial protocol but against the likes of IEEE 1394 FireWire or USB 2.0, it is quite slow. If you frequently need to move a lot data in/out of the Vista then go with the optional FireWire port and add a FireWire card in your computer -- you'll be glad you did!   The occassional user will probably be satisfied to just plug it in and go off and do something else for a while as it downloads. Plan on about twenty minutes per Gigabyte for transfers.

The Nixvue Vista is available now from JOBO Fototechnic, Inc..