October 31, 2007: Glass Lantern, LLC has ceased operation. No further orders may be placed, and no further support can be provided, as the company is now dissolved. Thanks to those who supported us!

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Pixfer for Pocket PC is no longer supported

Unfortunately, the options for large storage on Pocket PC devices have diminished over time. There are rumors of future devices that support solid USB host functionality, but at this time, Pixfer for Pocket PC is no longer a viable product. The information here about Pixfer for Pocket PC is maintained for use with the free license key included with every copy of PocketLoupe. The only way to purchase Pixfer for Pocket PC is to purchase PocketLoupe. If you purchased a Pixfer for Pocket PC license key in the past, we will attempt to provide technical support, but are no longer producing bug fixes or new versions.

Of course, Pixfer for Windows XP is still fully supported.

I don't have a Pocket PC, and don't understand all of the various options. How do I know what exactly I have to buy to make this work?
You should read our article Pocket PC Digital Photography Resources, which not only provides a recommended setup, but also tells you what to look for if you want to select your own setup instead.

I'm using the Anypak USB driver with a large USB hard disk. Why does Pixfer take an extremely long time to launch? Or, why does it pause for a long time while transferring one of the first few files?
There appears to have a performance issue when determining the free, used, or total space available on a hard disk, at least when using this driver. We are attempting to work around this issue, but have not come up with a good solution. You can try several things to improve performance, including:

  1. Use smaller hard disk partitions - the smaller the partition, the faster it is.
  2. Use larger cluster sizes when formatting the disk. This may make a significant difference in performance. For example, format with 32KB clusters rather than 2KB.
  3. The performance appears to only be very bad the first time the disk is checked. Try to do multiple transfers without turning the device off or ejecting the hard drive between transfers.

Note that you can see this performance issue without using our software - simply turn off your Pocket PC, power it back on, then immediately go to Start->Settings->System->Memory->Storage Card and select your drive. The time it takes for it to display the space available is the delay you are seeing - not an issue in the applications themselves.

Is there any way to use this on a Macintosh?
Although we do not support the Mac, we have a report from Bruce, who uses Pixfer on an iPaq with a Macintosh:

I'm sucessfully using Pixfer and PocketLoupe on an iPaq 3835 using a 400mz G3 PowerBook running OS10.2.2 and Virtual PC 5.0.4, syncing iPaq's ActiveSync 3.5 through Windows 98SE. The programs are downloaded with Internet Explorer for Mac, then "shared folder" accessed in VPC and loaded to the iPaq using ActiveSync via USB cable. Everything works as expected. Outlook Express in 98SE even syncs contacts and addresses to the iPaq.

The PCMCIA Toshiba 2GB hard drive mounts on the OSX desktop as a volume, my IBM 8GB PCMCIA hard drive mounts in both the iPaq Dual Expansion sleeve and on the Mac desktop to access image files (just keep the drives formatted as MS-DOS, Mac can "see" them properly). Leave the "invisible" files intact on the drive for the cross-platforming to function. I could not (yet) get a DNBoy PCMCIA hard drive to mount in OSX and recommend staying with the IBM. Pixfer copies image files from CF card (Lexar 12X) to the PCMCIA drives at about 1MB/sec. The Toshiba PCMCIA drives in the Dual Sleeve only spin-up when accessed, so battery draw isn't dramatic. The IBM drive can also be powered from the iPaq's batteries, but stays spinning, so battery life there will be shorter. A 5V AC adaptor can self-power the IBM.In short, everything works reliabily in the Mac environment using VPC and 98SE (I have had trouble having USB connections visible to Windows XP with VPC and don't recommend using that version Windows).

Bruce

Can't I do almost everything Pixfer does with built-in Pocket PC functionality?
You can do many of the things, but it will be painful and inefficient. If you use the built-in Pocket PC functionality, you'll run into problems such as poor file transfer performance, lack of status information, and inconvenience due to resetting power options while transferring. Pixfer earns its keep through increased performance and ease-of-use since it was written specifically for large transfers of digital image data. Compared to the costs of dealing with less efficient transfer or more expensive storage solutions, Pixfer is quite the deal...you simply get more out of your equipment by using Pixfer.

This all sounds fine on paper...how do I know it all really works?
For one example, you can read a trip report from testing an early version of Pixfer on a 10 day trip to Seattle, including a multi-day camping trip in the Cascade Mountains. Of course, Pixfer works with many types of equipment other than the setup in this article, but it should give you some idea of the challenges and solutions. You can also download Pixfer and try out all of its functionality to make sure it will work for your particular equipment and situation.

How much data will I be able to transfer before my batteries die?
How long will it take for the files to be transferred?
This is obviously highly dependent on your Pocket PC, what type of storage you are using, your backlight settings, etc. Here are some statistics from a fully charged Compaq iPaq 3650 Pocket PC, with a new (also fully charged) dual-PC Card expansion pack. All results are obtained using raw Nikon NEF files, each about 7.7MB in size. All of Pixfer's power saving functions were enabled, such as keeping the screen turned off during transfers, powering off immediately when each transfer was complete, etc. All transfers were from a 512MB Ridata Compact Flash card. The iPaq screen was occasionally powered on to check progress and set up each transfer. This is probably realistic, as you would likely want to check progress while using it in the field.

Card

# NEF files

Total MB

Total Time

Data rate

Toshiba 2GB PCMCIA

874

6,745

4:15:54

450 kb/sec

IBM TravelStar 8E

399

3,072

1:37:09

540 kb/sec

Notes on testing procedure:

Compared to the built-in File Explorer, Pixfer is over twice as fast at transferring images. This has been tested on the iPaq 36xx series running Pocket PC 2002, as well as a Toshiba e755 running Windows Mobile 2003. Users of other devices report even larger improvements in file transfer speed.

How do I connect this additional storage to my Pocket PC?
This depends on your Pocket PC. Some have built-in slots for SD or Compact Flash memory cards. Others have add-on expansion packs that slide on to the device or connect to it and provide other ports/slots such as additional Compact Flash slots, PC Card (PCMCIA) slots, USB connections, etc. Some of these add-ons also supply additional battery power to help run power-hungry hard drives. http://www.pocketpc.com will give you current information and comparison charts of the current Pocket PC devices. See this article for some specific hard drive ideas.

How can I get more battery power?
What kinds of inexpensive storage are available for my Pocket PC?
What other tools are useful for my Pocket PC?
See our Pocket PC digital photography resources article for more information.