By Jared Miniman | March 16, 2002 2:49 PM
Last July I reported
on the first VGA card to hit the market, the original
PCMCIA ColorGraphic Voyager.
Since last year, two major things have taken effect:
many new VGA card manufacturers have hit the market,
and most all of them support over 256 colors (which
is the best the original Voyager could do). Also,
the CompactFlash size has become the standard, which
is a great thing since most Pocket PC users don’t
have access to PCMCIA slots or sleeves. Finally, Conduits
has further updated their Pocket
Slides application, and several other players
have introduced their own similarly-minded packages.
CF-size card, higher color depth,
more supported resolution/frequency configurations,
and a combined S-Video, VGA, and Composite output
As opposed to using a standard
InstallShield application, ColorGraphic decided to
use something more proprietary. The benefit is you
have centralized access to software installation and
the CompactFlash model from the first drop-down, followed
by your device model. Hit “Install Driver”
to send the appropriate CAB file to Application Manager.
Voyager’s focus point
is the output panel, encased in hard plastic, attached
to the end of a 2.5 foot cable. Let’s take a closer
package design! I received my review unit without
a box, but because I’m always keen on experiencing
what an end-consumer would, I asked to be one.
you’ll find a CD-ROM with installation software and
documentation, the CF card, a CF to PCMCIA adapter
should you want to use the Voyager with your iPAQ’s
PCMCIA sleeve, and the output panel.
CompactFlash card itself has the word “ColorGraphic”
stamped on it an amazing four times! As you turn the
card over to insert it into your Pocket PC, you’ll
never forget who made the card. At the end of the
card is a narrow and shallow connector port, where
the end of the output panel cord plugs into. I’m concerned
I might break off the connection. MARGI’s
cable was the most rugged I’ve ever seen on a device
of this class.
and lightweight, the input end of the display cord
requires you to ping the sides to insert or remove.
is a side shot of the output panel. Again, clear mentioning
of the Colorgraphic namesake. Guys, I haven’t yet
now for the sweet spot. The output panel is very well
integrated, and likely the best execution I’ve seen
in combined Composite, VGA, and S-Video (from left
to right) output ports. Just one panel instead of
having lots of awkward dongles hanging off. Very sound
shot of the excellent output panel.
Voyager has always shipped
with a simple VGA control applet, and the CF Voyager
is no exception. Despite being a no-frills application,
it gets the job done with minimal effort.
a software critic, I immediately noticed that the
Command Bar is not properly updated. I dislike it
when developers get lazy and don’t remember to “wipe
the display” clean so to speak. At times I felt
like I was running an overlay to Inbox (or whatever
else was running in the background).
discuss the options. First, you can do “real
time” or timed screen updates, like in the previous
drive release. I put real time in quotes because the
delay is no less than one second. Output options,
matching the output panel, include VGA, Composite,
and S-Video. You can arrange the output window in
whichever orientation you prefer. Changing the background
color requires you to hit “ok” then restart
the Voyager application (conveniently dumped into
your Start Menu!).
the huge number of VGA output options. You can crank
the resolution up as high as 1024 x 768 (at 256 colors,
like ColorGraphic’s competition) and bring color output
to 16-bit. For most presentations, your best bet is
800x600x64k. I could not see any difference in flicker
rate between 60 and 85 Hz. The screen shot to the
right shows the only two options we had with the PCMCIA
card’s early driver.
you’re using S-Video or Composite output, you can
choose among NTSC and PAL formats, and a wide range
of resolutions. What the heck is up with 848 x 480
resolution? These are what 42″ plasma displays
(in case you have one!) natively support. Hey, I just
got an 18″ LCD screen. I’ll have to work up to
that plasma tube.
with the earlier driver version, keeping the VGA connection
open lands an icon on the Command Bar.
Help support is provided
through HTML assistance (launched from the installation
CD-ROM), or contact ColorGraphic directly from their
There are no other package
options, aside from the many PowerPoint presentation
applications out there that take full advantage of
this card. Check out the Review
Center for reviews of all the major software offerings.
CF support in Pocket Slides v1.5
CF supports nearly every Windows CE 3.0 device under
the sun, including the Handheld PC Pros, Handheld
PC 2002, Pocket PCs, and Pocket PC 2002s. Because
you’re not limiting yourself to PCMCIA-accepting devices,
many more handhelds can take advantage of the Voyager.
In fact, two weeks ago ColorGraphic rolled out updated
drivers for Pocket PC 2002 and the BE-300, among
others. On an iPAQ, you’ll need about 45 kb of free
storage space for the driver installation and another
1.5 to 2 MB of program memory once video output is
occurring. As with any VGA card’s use, system performance
drops significantly upon being enabled. Just be warned
if you’re expecting to show off your favorite arcade
BUGS AND WISHES
I didn’t mention this above, I noticed a decent amount
of heat coming from the Voyager card, though not enough
to suggest faulty wiring. I’ll have to watch this
in the future, and I hope it doesn’t become a major
$175.00, you can pick up the Voyager CF from ColorGraphic.
Compare that to $199.99 for MARGI’s
Presenter-to-Go at $200.00. Fan of Nyditot?
I am! Good news for you. Nyditot has released a special
“NVD Driver” that allows allows mirroring
of the virtual display to an external monitor, TV
or S-Video when used with a Voyager VGA CompactFlash
card. Nyditot will soon be releasing a special bundle
of Voyager CF + Nyditot 2.01 + NVD Driver for $179.00.
Heck, for $4.00 more, the bundle is more than worth
it (Nyditot plus NVD Driver retails for $29.98). Once
this add-on goes final, I’ll be sure to update my
S-Video, VGA, and Composite
CF is here!
resolution choices (even support for plasma tubes!)
degradation; a norm
Simply by virtue of being the
first out on the market, developers have lined up
to support the ColorGraphic solution. This is a great
thing for many, because this means software houses
like Conduits and Nyditot are making custom add-ons
specifically for this card, while the other guys are
asking for developer support. Aside from the
possible heat problem, the Voyager CF is a solid presentation
device, and a product I can easily recommend, especially
if you need alternate output methods. Heck, in today’s
corporate boardroom, VGA isn’t the only option, and
in many cases, S-Video fits the bill.
Though most of the cards out there provide the same
basic functionality, ColorGraphic is the leader in
providing regular driver updates and keep close ties
with the development community. I’ll place my bets