The latest technological innovation in family snapshots is putting them on a disc to watch on TV.
The process begins at photo finishers, who put the pictures onto special compact discs.
The discs are played on the Eastman Kodak Photo CD player. The player can also be used for music CDs and, with a CD ROM and appropriate software, can change colors or enlarge parts of pictures on a computer screen.
The technology is most important for storage. "The purpose for the consumer is to be able to store the picture so that, over time, the color doesn't fade," says Mason Resnick, managing editor of Photo Business magazine.
The product may also appeal to consumers because the TV is the viewing center of the household. "Photos can be displayed at the same place all these other pieces of video are," says John Carey, an independent communications consultant in Dobbs Ferry, N.Y.
The disc player can store up to 500 images, sort pictures instantly and keep photo libraries indexed, says Glen Serbin, publisher of Photographer's Forum magazine.
"In the past if someone called a stock photography agency or a photographer for an image, they'd have to research all their slides, which might take hours," Serbin says.
"With the Photo CD system, they can categorize every slide they have and punch up that subject matter on the computer. It cuts retrieval and research down to seconds."
The system has been more popular with businesses than with individuals, Kodak says. The three models sell for suggested retail prices ranging from $379 to $549.
Carey says the quality of CD pictures is "marginal. It's not up to the quality of a 35-millimeter slide or a printed photograph."
"There are five levels of resolution on a Photo CD," says Eastman Kodak spokesman Paul Allen. "If you download that image to a computer, you can download it in any one of those levels, and the lowest is comparable to normal television resolution."