Photos in a flash
It's a piece of cake to download and install PicturePerfect from the Applian Web site or Download.com. If you want the trial version, which limits you to five pictures, the company asks for your e-mail address, but even that is optional. The software includes no desktop component; you simply drag and drop photos to your handheld using Explorer or ActiveSync. PicturePerfect can also read directly from CompactFlash and other memory cards so that you can pull photos directly from your compatible digital camera. Nifty. Plus, PicturePerfect supports BMP, GIF, and JPEG images in their native formats, without any special conversion.
Slick thumbnails; tons of tools
Once you're ready to view your photos, you must create an album in an easy, two-tap process. From there, you can look at photos individually, watch a slide show, or see thumbnails of the entire album. PicturePerfect excels at presenting thumbnails, letting you switch among 2-by-2, 3-by-3, and 4-by-4 grids with a tap of the stylus. We also like the Enlarge option, which zooms in on each thumbnail for a better view of the photo.
And that's just the tip of the iceberg. As you'd expect from a good photo viewer, PicturePerfect can rotate, zoom, and pan your photos. It also lets you attach text annotations and on-the-fly voice recordings to any photo, and it can turn any album into a slide show, complete with transition effects. The software even lets you use an MP3 or WAV file as background music during the show. If you meet another PicturePerfect-using, Pocket PC owner, you can share entire albums by turning them into so-called packages. Unfortunately, you can't beam these packages from within PicturePerfect; you must use your Pocket PC's File Explorer tool to locate and beam albums, and you can't beam individual photos at all.
Read the manual
While we like PicturePerfect's set of tools, the app suffers from a few interface glitches that make it too complicated. For example, a simplistic toolbar at the bottom of the screen lets you flip between photos, zoom in and out, switch to full-screen mode, and launch the thumbnail mode. Unfortunately, the thumbnail mode suppresses the program's menus; you have to be viewing an individual photo to access them. In addition, after you create a new album, the software displays this message: "Select album, new to add photos." Do so, and there's still no option to add photos; there are just options to create new albums, which you already did. To load pictures, you must use an entirely different menu. Furthermore, PicturePerfect doesn't display the name of the open album, which can cause confusion when you're switching from one to another. And during our test, an MP3-enhanced slide show, the music kept playing even when we manually stopped it.
The good news is Applian's informative, well-illustrated, online manual. The bad news is that it's in HTML format, so you must save it manually to read it offline. Applian offers only a few items in its FAQ page for PicturePerfect, but you can e-mail the company with problems or questions.
PicturePerfect comes with a bit of a learning curve, but once you get past it, you'll be one happy shutterbug with this inexpensive, full-featured photo viewer.