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July 16, 2005 12:10 AM

Broken: iPaq camera settings

IpaqcompressionChris Hussey writes:

I recently bought an HP iPaq with a built-in camera. The software, HP Image Capture, offers three JPEG compression levels for saving your files. The part that's broken in my opinion is the naming convention of the compression levels. Maybe it's the programmer side of me, but when I think "Best compression", I think of the smallest file size (which would translate to lowest picture quality). Instead, the exact opposite is true: use "Best compression" for the largest files, best picture quality.

Simple fix: Change the word "compression" in the interface to "quality".

P.S. Sorry I couldn't find a better picture of this online, I had to use a camera-phone at close range to get a snapshot.


I was with you until I read the picture, with the handy explanation right below it. I'd say it's not that big of a problem, maybe slightly confusing for a half a second.

Posted by: ssssmemyself at July 16, 2005 12:28 AM

Yea, definitely should be Quality rather than compression. Although "best" compression doesn't really translate to "most" compression in my mind, but maybe i'm just used to it.

Posted by: Sergey Zakatov at July 16, 2005 01:00 AM

No folks, THIS IS BROKEN. The fact they have to explain it so much means THEY KNOW IT'S BROKEN. Stop being apologists for all these companies. You are the reason they get way with it. This is BROKEN because they are useing the WRONG WORD, flat out, no apologies. They need to change that to "Quality" and it'll be fixed.

Posted by: Grey Hodge at July 16, 2005 01:11 AM

No, they need to change that to "file size"

quality could mean the compression or image quality.

Posted by: asdf at July 16, 2005 01:27 AM

yes, i think its only semi broken, only because it doesnt follow mainstream standardization.

Posted by: Dragon at July 16, 2005 02:38 AM

Don't they mean "best" as in "not lossy" and therefore "best quality"? In which case it's not broken.

This is not a rhetorical question. I really don't know.

Posted by: sparky at July 16, 2005 02:54 AM

This is not broken.

Posted by: Yaos at July 16, 2005 03:05 AM

At the very least, this is very poorly worded. If I saw compression, and a scale indicating good to best, my immedaite conclusion would be that best would represent tne most comression, not the least. As pointed out, the whole issue is that the scale really is a representation of the image quality, and as such, the wording would have been much clearer if they had just labelled the setting "image quality" instead of "cmpression".

Posted by: Carlos Gomez at July 16, 2005 08:43 AM

Why not a sliding scale that obviates either choice?

Higher Lower

Quality Quality



| or selectable box on scale


Larger Smaller

File Size File Size

Posted by: Erich at July 16, 2005 12:03 PM

This is interesting. It clearly depends on where you're coming from. I'm a photographer, not a programmer, and in the world of photography, compression is BAD. So it makes perfect sense to me. However, I can certainly see how it could be confusing/backwards to those not in this mindset. It's simply a matter of perspective (which I guess could be said about most everything...).

Posted by: ambrocked at July 16, 2005 12:09 PM

Arrrgh! With the spaces and fixed width font, that little diagram made sense, and now it is BROKEN! Apparently this thing takes out extra spaces.

Okay, what I was trying to communicate with a little pictogram was a way to graphically express on parallel scales the choice of Higher Quality/Larger File Size all the way down to Lower Quality/Smaller File Size. Exact same selection available in the software now, but expressing the Quality/Size relationship in an unambiguous way and without any subjective "good, better, best" labels that could apply to either of the two different criteria.

Posted by: Erich at July 16, 2005 12:09 PM

BTW (for anyone that cares), when saving photos that are intended for printing, save them as TIFFs, not JPEGs. The outcome is MUCH better. =)

Posted by: ambrocked at July 16, 2005 12:18 PM

yeah i would say that it is broken, but what is more broken is your ability to take screenshots. if you press alt+print screen (to the right of f12), it saves the screen shot and you can copy it into paint by pressing ctrl+v. anyways, just thought i'd help you out.

Posted by: ryan p nelson at July 16, 2005 01:53 PM

Not broken because at the bottom of the screen it tells you "best quality, largest file size" and if that doesn't clue you in, the stars indicate the quality, more stars, better quality. Then again, I don't like devices with built in cameras.

Posted by: Jon at July 16, 2005 02:48 PM

I use digital cameras, and have used many different ones. This setting *is* invariably labeled compression, since it refers to the compression of the JPEG, but it would make more sense to refer to it as image quality, especially with the star system. If there are stars, and the heading is compression, then most people think more stars=more compression. This is not the case here, and it should be, if they want to call it compression.

Posted by: Jesse at July 16, 2005 05:14 PM

I wonder if the "pre" tag works...

Yaos, at least give a reason why it's not broken...

Posted by: Zarel at July 16, 2005 05:40 PM

I have no experience with combined PDA/Camera devices but I have owned many digital cameras and all of them except Kodak allow you to set the following Resolutions (for 6MP camera) 2816x212, 2272x1704, 1600x1200 and 640x480 with Fine and Normal compression. That is how the Konica Minolta G600 is set up and Canon uses a similar system. Okay, fine, the stars may confuse people but it still explains what it is at the bottom of the screen - "Best Quality, Largest File Size" - if that doesn't explain it, I don't know what would. Fine, I'll give in, it's only half broken.

Posted by: Jon at July 16, 2005 05:54 PM

Ryan: It's a PDA, not a full-sized computer. Ergo, it doesn't have a 'Print Screen' key.

Posted by: codeman38 at July 17, 2005 01:56 PM

typical of someone in the industry (myself included). Why do we assume that the user knows and understands the concept of words like compression?

In fact, the image was fairly user-friendly because the product manager assumed they wouldnt and did something that is anti-intuitive to a programmer.

Posted by: Rick at July 17, 2005 02:39 PM

What? It says Best Quality, Larger File Size right at the bottom. Not on a different window, not in the instruction manual, ON THE SAME PAGE! This isn't confusing, nor is it broken.

Posted by: Bob at July 17, 2005 03:42 PM

BTW: Why's iPaq an HP product? Sounds like a Mac.

Posted by: Bob at July 17, 2005 03:43 PM

Part Broken;

Best compression should probably equal smallest compression and worst quality, but "best" isn't a very good term, because it could mean many different things. "Quality" would have been much clearer, as other people have stated. However, in the end it should work out thanks to the description on the bottom of the page.

Posted by: person at July 17, 2005 05:19 PM

Bob, why do you always say things aren't broken? If half the people here think it's broken...then there's a problem. We can't design things that are confusing to half the population...we'd go out of business.

Having to put a label on something to explain it, rather than just properly titling the feature itself (Image Quality) is stupid.

Posted by: Mac at July 17, 2005 09:34 PM

I'm with Bob, it isn't broken because it explains exactly what it is right at the bottom of the screen. Is this a diffucult concept for everyone to wrap their heads around. If people can't read the bottom of the screen then that is their problem.

Posted by: Jon at July 17, 2005 09:51 PM

Jon, it's not a matter of whether you get it or not, it's a matter of whether a) it confuses some users (which it clearly does) and b) if it couldn't be better.

Well, it certainly and obviously confuses some users...enough to where it should be fixed.

And, it certainly is easy to fix: just change the title to "image quality" and call it a day.

Maybe you and Bob can start a usability company...your mantra can be, "if we can figure it out, it's not broken. If users can't figure it out, they're broken."

Posted by: Mac at July 18, 2005 12:04 AM

Broken. This is very confusing. Many (if not most) people will put the title ("Compression") with the option ("Best") and assume that the last option is "Best Compression." People generally do not read the fine print, and it is poor interface design to expect them to.

There are lots of ways this can be improved. The picture shows there is obviously enough space to make the titles longer. Getting rid of the stars (which don't add any information) will give even more room. For example, try these labels:

Most Compressed (Good Image)

Compressed (Better Image)

Least Compressed (Best Image)

The slider proposed by Erich above would be even better.

Posted by: Jay at July 18, 2005 09:53 AM

Mac- Generally the reason why i say something's not broken is because I DON'T THINK IT'S BROKEN! Someone with more than the IQ of a turnip can look down the page, and it's right there, two inches away.

Mac! Something is broken if it "couldn't be better"?


OK, this could be broken, i don't think the Good Better Best is as clear as it could be, but they, in my mind, prevented confusion by putting the explanation right there. There! That's my view on this post.

Posted by: Bob at July 19, 2005 08:50 AM

This is a waidspread problem - it's not this specific prouduct or company

Posted by: Spam Filter at July 19, 2005 04:24 PM

How do you get that different font?

Posted by: Bob at July 20, 2005 10:54 AM

I think this is broken. I know from experiance that I usually select whatever looks closest to what I need and don't pay any attention to the print at the bottom of the page. When I see 'best' in conjunction with 'compression' I usually think, 'small file'. This is confusing to the average Joe who has no professional skills as a photographer, and wants a quick way to save snapshots. Who wants to spend half a minute reading a tiny screen while the shot of a lifetime is passing you by?

Posted by: Fayth at July 20, 2005 07:16 PM

to let you know, go into settings>itask settings and add delayed screen capture f=to make a screen capture on pocket pc.

i have an ipaq h3360 which looks like an ipod but came out before it




Posted by: kip at July 20, 2005 10:12 PM

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