2009 Cuddeback CuddeView 4-in-1 field Viewer Review - April 18, 2009 Back to Main Review Page
   
  Cuddeback CuddeView 4-in-1 Viewer

Read our 2009 Hand Held Photo Viewer Overview and Analysis

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This is the second viewer review and coming out of the box I thought maybe they had sent me the wrong product. Blue on one side and black with a view screen on the other side. Very small in size at 2 ½ X 3 ¾ X ¾ inch this viewer seems to be packed with most of the normal functional slots and buttons found on most. Very solidly made and is supplied with a loop neck strap rather than the wrist strap found on other viewers. Maybe some would feel this is a big positive but I am sure that others would feel that this feature is a big negative. This feature is the built in LI rechargeable battery. This type of battery is in most cases considered first class, but in this case it does seem to appear to be a negative. The reason for this is that you have to hook it up to a computer by the supplied USB cable in order to fully charge the battery (about 4 hours). We have a few good old boys around here that do not have a computer and the reason for buying a card reader was to be able to view their pictures. There is a typical wall wart charger as an accessory that could be used in place of the computer for charging but costs extra. For others that do have a lap top or home PC this type of hook up is very normal, and should work very well for them. Prolonged use in the field could leave even the savvy computer users wanting to just reach into their back pack and grab a set of AAA cells and keep on going. The view screen is 2 3/8th diagonal and is larger than the first viewer we looked at. The right edge near the top is the AV out jack for hooking the reader to your TV to view the pictures stored on the card. Below this is the main power button. On the top of the viewer is a set of tiny holes and the manual states that this is a microphone but fails to mention how to use it. The back of the unit (blue side) has a speaker and a small LED. We could not determine why there is a speaker because it is not mentioned either in the manual. The LED is a nice feature which is a mini flashlight that could come in handy during those early morning visits to the cam. This lamp can be turned on by using the menu and delete buttons on the black side of the viewer. The bottom of the viewer is where the USB plugs in and where the two card slots are located. This viewer accepts CF and SD cards. This makes it versatile for those who have trail cameras that have both type cards. The front (black side has the view screen and the five main buttons. The center is the typical joy stick selector for toggling up/down and left/right. And when selected they are used for zoom in and out plus left/right-up/down panning. This joy stick can be pushed in to act as the OK or select function. This is a really slick operating viewer to toggle through your pictures. The operation and function is just great and very smooth. The zoom in and out while viewing a picture works extremely well. The detail and sharpness of the display is sharp and clear. If Mark Cuddeback new that I had just said something good about one of his recent products he would probably fall out of his chair and roll under his desk. Just as a viewer it appears this unit is very good, but we do have other negative things to report. The first is the documentation or lack there of. We will get our feet wet first and try to research as much as possible be for we continue I need some answers that the supplied manual just does not answer. The four in one in the name of this view refers to it being a field viewer, TV viewer, computer card reader, and image transfer device. The instructions states picture viewer and does not mention video viewer. When I insert a card with a small scouting camera AVI on it the viewer does not recognize it. I have a lot of field stuff to get done and this little handful will be going with me.

04-19-2009 update:  Lets take the operations in steps, first as a card reader this little unit shines. It will take both CF and SD cards and has a good sized view screen and control functions allows the user to move through the pictures easily. While viewing you can select certain pictures and lock them in so when you want to clean the card those selected pictures will not be erased. When this devise is used in the copy function it works well but you can either copy from SD to CF or CF to SD. Should you wish to copy SD to SD you must first copy to the CF card and remove the SD card and install a clean SD card and copy back to the SD. The reverse is possible if you need to go CF to CF, this seems to be inconvenient but it does work. I have yet to figure out the sound and buzzer operations and from my first attempt to research it on the net was a miserable failure. An attempt to reach customer service on the phone was another failure. There is a web site address of cuddebackdigital listed on the booklet but a scan of that site produced no E mail contact information so that only leaves the one phone number that no one seems to answer. This is a very convenient user friendly viewer and as long as it is working everything should be fine. If you have a question about function or it fails and unless you have purchased it from someone like Cabelas where there is a good return policy then I would think you would be in trouble. I hope this viewer hangs in there for a while longer because I want to do a side by side with the other viewers we are doing in this series of reviews. Doing more research to try to gain some additional knowledge about this product, I found one of the larger retail catalog outlets that had a series of customer feedback reports. There were many that reported that they loved how this device worked and there were also a good many that reported two issues. The first issue was the main switch is weak and tends to break. The second was that the viewer would just go dead and could not be revived by charging. Part of the problems with the lithium ion cells like is used in this viewer is they have a very steep drop off when the charge is coming to an end. If the battery is depleted completely sometimes it can not be recovered. The battery condition indicator on this device appears to only work when the charger is plugged in and the unit is turned on. I could not get the battery condition indicator to show on the screen without the USB charger plugged in. So in the field you have no indication that the batteries are getting low. This will make the requirement that a full charge be done prior to any outing to check cameras.

04-25-2009 update:  This viewer made it into my pack on this weeks visit to the field to check the cameras. The function was very good and no issues were experienced. It did take some fumbling around to get the power to come on but then everything worked just fine and the pictures were viewed.

05-01-2009 update:  With a pocket full of viewers and having the ability to view the same card in several viewers in a row, the simple “use” process soon becomes the main issue as far as judging how well we like a device. Though it is just a picture viewer, the strait forward process of just putting the card (SD of CF) in the slot and hitting the on button and things start to happen is nice. Hit the JPG button and toggle on through your pictures. If we had seen this kind of performance during the camera reviews we would have probably rated them much higher than we did. No video function but that was last on my list because of the great way they chose to outline the process of operation. This viewer is going to rate pretty good in our final write up I am sure.

05-08-2009 update:  We have been through all the paces and we have enjoyed this picture viewer. The fact that it takes both SD and CF cards and will do a copy function along with a high degree of “ease of use” made it enjoyable to use. Care must be taken with the handling of the on/off switch because we had a high number of reports where people had a degree of difficulties in that area. We experienced no problems at all. The nice sized screen along with being simple to use made it a favorite. This review is concluded.


 

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