Product Reviewed:
FlipAlbum 5 Professional
E-Book Systems, Inc. 1600 Wyatt Drive, Suite 14 Santa Clara, CA 95054 Phone numbers: US Office: 1-408-625-8000 Toll free order line: 1-866-532-8080
Product Description:
Photo Album Graphics software
Retail Price:
Don Hughes
Date Reviewed:
Good Features:

1. A 30-day Evaluation copy is available on their web site
2. User friendly
3. Creates multiple albums
4. Handles video as well as photos
5. Albums can be burned to CD/DVD

Bad Features:

1. Slow DVD format conversion speed
2. Small print in their manual

Reviewers Comments:

Test System Intel P4, 512MB RAM, Windows XP professional, ATI Radon 7500 video. 60 GB hard drive. FlipAlbum's minimum system requirements: Windows 95/98/NT4.0/2000/ME/XP PC Compatible, Pentium II 300 MHz or better 64 MB RAM or more 80 MB free hard drive space CDRW drive & CD burner software. 16-bit colour display adapter or better 800 X 600 pixels screen area

E-Book's version 5 of FlipAlbum is available in three variations: Standard, Suite and Professional. The Standard version is limited to users wishing to make photographs available online. If your needs are to make and burn FlipAlbum's CDR disks, there are two choices Suite or Professional. For the majority of users E-Books Flip Album 5 suite is more than adequate and is about half the cost of Flip Album Pro.

Flip Album software does exactly what the name implies, by creating photo albums a user can flip through manually or have the program auto-flip the pages. Forget bringing out the screen and slide projector, FlipAlbum has a built in side show feature. FlipAlbum makes things easier; to import any saved digitalized photographs from a camera, scanner or the Internet from a folder on the hard drive. Then with a few keystrokes and mouse clicks, a user can create a photograph album that anyone with a computer or DVD player can flip through pages by the click of a mouse or remote control buttons.

After the album is created, and saved to the hard drive, it is a simple matter to burn the images onto a blank CDR disk. The user clicks on the CD Maker Icon from FlipAlbum's top menu, and just follows the well-documented screen instructions. Once the CD burn process has completed the user is ready to create a self-booting photo album CD.

The FlipAlbum does not contain a CD burner utility; however, during the process FlipAlbum creates a directory called AlbumCD. After creating an Album for burning, you can preview the album prior to loading your favorite CDRW burning software-This is a step I highly recommend. Own a digital camera long enough and one acquires hundreds of photographs sitting on your computer hard drive. The digital camera user soon has a problem of how to share the special images or memories with family, friends or simply archive. Flip Album Professional can store multiple albums on a single self-booting CD, complete with sounds in MP3, WAV, or MID formats. The FlipAlbum software arrived on a single CD DISK, and with a small easy to hold, seventy-two page users' guide, measuring four and a half inch wide, by seven-inches high. Installation was quick and easy. One problem I soon encountered was with the supplied manual. I reached the age where one needs and must use reading glass, and I found the small page size and light-colored text extremely difficult to read.

It did not take me long before I downloaded a copy of the manual from the documentation area E-Books web site. Once the downloaded completed I printed out the entire PDF manual (note: be sure to set the printout for full-page coverage) to our laser printer making the manual easier to read. During installation, FlipAlbum installs a program icon on the desktop, and a double click of a mouse loads FlipAlbum. Once the program is on the screen, users can crate a new blank book and insert the objects, or open a file folder containing the objects (photos). Once the album is created, end users can add music, or add a voice narration as the pages flip. The Flip Albums flip book covers; pages are customizable with many colorful themes, bindings and backgrounds. User can also purchase more themes, backgrounds from Flip Albums web site. FlipAlbum is a very user customizable, only limited by the end user's imagination.

Once the album is completed and has all the necessary text, sounds or photographs added, a single click on the Burn CD button on the menu creates a directory and names the directory "AlbumCD." At first, the "Burn CD" command in FlipAlbum was puzzling, as it did not call up the CD-RW burning software. The command creates a directory, and then copies all the necessary files needed to make the self-booting CD Album. The next step is to open your CD-RW burner software and following FlipAlbum's instructions drag and drop the files to a CDR disk. The entire process is simple a three step program:

  1. Create an album.
  2. Start the Burn CD process, and files are copied to a directory on your hard drive.
  3. Load your CD Burner software, drag, drop and burn a CDR disk.
FlipAlbum program is very user friendly, and guides the user through the process of making a single or multiple Albums on a self-booting CDR disk. If you wish to create multiple Albums per CD, the first step is to create save each photograph directory as a single album. Multiple albums are created in the Burn CD process menu asks if this is a single or multiple albums, and a click of the mouse makes the choice. The Multiple Albums make use of a feature named "Bookshelf" which appears on screen with the program prompting for the number of Albums per shelf and the number of shelves. In the bookshelf set up a user, customize the look and colour of the bookshelf and books. If you had nine albums you wanted to store on a bookshelf, the settings could be three by three or three albums across and three shelves down. Once the bookshelf dimensions are set, each single album is imported and stored in the AlbumCD directory. As soon as the process of making a multiple album is, completed users can preview the bookcase and test it, before proceeding to burn a CDR disk. As previous, the user loads his or her CD-ROM burning software then drags and drops the multiple files onto a CDR disk. After the burning process has completed, any user will be proud of the results be it a single or multi self-booting CD, complete with a Flipbook viewer. The self-booting CDR disk and viewer makes it easy to view or print photographs for even a computer novice. During testing, we have made several flip album CDs for family, friends, and all have been very impressed with the ease of use to display or print the photographs from the album.

The multiple album features give a user a simple way to display and retrieve display months or years worth of photographs, such as Weddings, birthdays, school graduations, special events, anniversaries, new baby first steps. Once created theses albums CDs can be copied and given to family and friends, just as you would share reprints of photographs. The only requirement is they must have a computer or a DVD Player. FlipAlbum has the ability to convert photographs into MPEG format, for use on a DVD player. However, the converting process is intensive and the faster the computer the better. Even on our Pentium IV, the conversation took about a minute per photograph or nearly six hours to convert just over four hundred photographs.

FlipAlbum stores the converted MPEG files, in a directory called AlbumVCD, and once the process is done you can make multiple copies from the same directory or copy the CD. Note your CD burning software must be cable of making a video CD. In spite of the slow conversation process, I was pleased with the results when we tested the newly created video disk in our DVD player. During a few months of testing FlipAlbum completed everything we could throw at the program without any major blunders. If we did run into a problem, it was usually user created and not a program fault. The only two things I could find fault with FlipAlbum were the slow DVD format conversation speed and the small print in their manual.

The power and flexible of the program and its ability to make CDR disk that can be locked (prevent photos from being copied or printed), and the program given an expiry date will make FlipAlbum a valuable tool for photographers or companies wanting to create catalogs or product demos. Anyone who has a digital camera, or a scanner, plus slides or photographs can now share and display photographs in a handy easy to use format self-booting CD format.

Visit FlipAlbum's web site and buy or download a trial copy of FlipAlbum.

GCR Overall Rating (out of 5):

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