San Jose, Calif. About 13.9 billion digital images will be generated this year alone as digital cameras become the newest object of consumer desire.
But how to store those images without shelling out too many dollars?
Download images to a computer and you'll quickly have a very full hard drive. Save just 35 or 40 high-resolution photos on a 32-megabyte flash memory card and you'll be out from $80 to $100.
Iomega Corp., which makes the top-selling Zip and Jaz! magnetic storage drives, is one company offering an affordable and convenient solution: the FotoShow Digital Image Center.
By basically adding a Motorola PowerPC microprocessor to a Zip drive, people with digital cameras that use either Compact Flash, SmartMedia or IBM MicroDrive memory cards can directly transfer photos to the $299.95 FotoShow, which stores as many as 300 high-resolution images on 250MB Zip disks.
The FotoShow can then be directly connected to a television set for business presentations or family slide shows.
From the comfort of a sofa, and with a remote control that accompanies FotoShow, you can perform basic editing functions cropping, redeye removal, special effects and titling that come with most digital photo software.
"We think the ability to download and look at a number of images is what's been lacking in digital photography," says Paul Jacobs, general manager of new products and markets at Roy, Utah-based Iomega. "It takes the immediacy of looking at digital images to where it needs to be."
Using a Universal Serial Bus connector, FotoShow also can be plugged into computers with operating systems as old as Windows 95 and Mac 8.6 to download images from hard drives, scanners, the Internet or e-mail.
The device also can act just like a regular disk drive.
The imaging software embedded in FotoShow does not work on a computer, but many digital camera users already have such programs on their PCs.
One nice thing about FotoShow is that each step in the process is intuitive, making it easy for armchair experts who refuse to read thick instruction books before settling down to play with a new toy.
On-screen menus that pop up while hooked up to the television also help.
What may be the biggest selling point of the system is treated like an afterthought.
Weighing in at less than two pounds, FotoShow can be taken on the road. (The unit ships with a vertical stand, video/audio cable and a single Zip disk. A six-pack of 250 megabyte disks costs about $80).
For another $15, Iomega is offering a 12-volt FotoShow AutoAdapter that allows you to download images from a digital camera to a Zip disk by plugging into a car power outlet. As many digital photo enthusiasts know, it's when you're out and about that you're most likely to be vexed by the lack of free up space on a photo memory card.