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Digital photo frames for music

Jack Campin 03 Aug 12 - 09:20 AM
Steve Parkes 03 Aug 12 - 10:42 AM
JohnInKansas 03 Aug 12 - 04:19 PM
JohnInKansas 05 Aug 12 - 02:59 AM
Jack Campin 05 Aug 12 - 05:21 AM
Will Fly 05 Aug 12 - 05:26 AM
JohnInKansas 05 Aug 12 - 08:58 AM
DMcG 05 Aug 12 - 09:35 AM
RichM 05 Aug 12 - 09:47 AM
Tootler 05 Aug 12 - 04:28 PM
JohnInKansas 05 Aug 12 - 09:03 PM
Jack Campin 05 Aug 12 - 09:17 PM
JohnInKansas 06 Aug 12 - 03:20 AM
Tootler 06 Aug 12 - 04:24 AM
Tootler 06 Aug 12 - 04:24 AM
Desert Dancer 06 Aug 12 - 07:34 PM
Geoff the Duck 07 Aug 12 - 05:33 AM
Geoff the Duck 09 Aug 12 - 01:09 PM
Jack Campin 09 Aug 12 - 01:57 PM
Geoff the Duck 09 Aug 12 - 02:32 PM
Geoff the Duck 09 Aug 12 - 05:29 PM
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Subject: Digital photo frames for music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 03 Aug 12 - 09:20 AM

It looks like no Kindle/Nook-like device is going to be any use for sheet music, and iPads are too expensive.

Could a digital photo frame work as a music stand? They're big and cheap enough. But I've never used one.

Do they allow you to page through the images fast enough to be useful, and then leave the image up as long as you want, while running on battery power for a reasonably long time?

Something that accepted memory cards would be ideal, so you could keep distinct collections of scores on different cards.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Steve Parkes
Date: 03 Aug 12 - 10:42 AM

I've got a 7" (diagonal) frame that was given as a present. The resolution is only 432x234 pixels -- not very good for music notation! I think you can get better resolution than that, and bigger screens up to 15"; the price is quite high though. And you have to keep pressing a button to get the next image. You might do better to go the whole hog & get a tablet.

Or you could carry on using paper sheet music!


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 03 Aug 12 - 04:19 PM

I have to agree that the screen resolution is likely to be a limitation on the smaller digital photo frames. My experience has been that it's difficult to get a really useful "music stand" display even on a full size desktop monitor.

The photo frames I've used also don't allow a convenient method for getting to the picture you want, except by stepping through all of the pictures you have in the device memory. A menu that lists your pictures (of your tunes), where you could select the one you want and go directly to it may be an available feature for some frames, but if it's present in the couple of cheap ones we've used I haven't played with them enough to find it.

I'd suggest that a first step in figuring out what's likely to work for what you want to display would be to set up your computer with a few of the pictures you want on your music stand, and resize the window they're shown in to find a "size" that's as small as will be useful, to get an idea of what you'll be able to use when you get on stage. Then remember that your desktop monitor probably will be at 96 dpi and a smaller device may still be at 72 dpi (or less?) and make allowances for the lower resolution.

If you're just displaying lyrics and chord letter-names, you might be able to use a pretty small display, but it takes a fairly large screen to show "dots" at useful size without paging down the screen.

For a "music book" that I put together a few years ago, when I found that nobody could lift the paper copy and it cost $20 per copy to print, I put the whole thing in a Word .doc with an index up front. Click on the tune name and it went to the full screen (full page) picture of the score of the tune. Click on the .mid file link on the same line in the index and it played the midi. (Unfortunately, nobody wanted it at $3 per CD either, but that's showbiz.)

You could do essentially the same thing with html, but of course the photo frames (so far as I know) can't run any kind of display program other than what's built into them, so you'd need at least a notepad or notebook (with a large enough screen for what you want to see) and with Word or something similar and/or a browser on it.

John


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 02:59 AM

I'm told by Lin that her Nook can display pdf and/or plain text, and converters are available for converting other files types to whatever the Nook native format is. I haven't managed to get her cooperation to try anything with pdf images in it, but she has tried loading at least a couple of "books scanned to editable pdf" and "plain text from scans."

Results with our experiments on plain text weren't too satisfactory due to insertion of carriage returns at every line break in the scans by my program's pdf/OCR conversion to text. The multiple CRs prevent the Nook word-wrap from working and would require lots of editing to get rid of the line breaks without eliminating the paragraph breaks. I assume that the same problem would make scaling the text size difficult, but her subsequent cooperation has been limited to "don't touch any more of my books with your $!%#$# scanner."

The Nook does appear to have some indexing and jump-to-page capabilities, but she usually sleeps with (on?) hers and I'm fearful I'd wake her up if I tried to slip it out from under her nose to investigate.

Depending on what you want to display, I would expect that the Nook or Kindle would be more likely to do what you'd need than one of the digital photo display things, but unless you make some discoveries I haven't suspected, I'd expect easier results with the smallest notebook/laptop that gives enough resolution and look at conventional computer image/text display programs.

John


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 05:21 AM

Like I said, sheet music. Nothing very complex; things like the score images in the Old Scottish Flute Music part of my website. They can be presented as JPGs, GIFs or PDFs, whichever the device is happiest with. The sort of use I might have is for the tunes our klezmer group plays - about 200 pages of A4, currently in a heavy plastic-pocket folder. They will all be black and white.

But that's too big for a Kindle and a bit too many for a flip-through-one-at-a-time control interface.

Typical flea market prices for a digital picture frame are about a tenth of those for a small laptop. And a laptop is the wrong shape to support on a music stand in a normal playing position. An iPad would be ideal but I can't afford one.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Will Fly
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 05:26 AM

Jack - I've just been checking out used iPad 2s on Amazon and eBay. Cheapest I can see at the moment (eBay) is £220. Not cheap - but not bad compared to the newer 3 models. I know a couple of bands where they're used, and they seem quite good.

The major difference in viewing them is that the Kindle is great in direct sunlight - just like paper - but not so good in darker conditions. The iPad is backlit and therefore good in most conditions except direct sunlight. I've tried chords charts on my Kindle - too small to view for me.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 08:58 AM

Two hundred sheets of A4 would be a bit much for most music stands, unless you built one like I made for a buddy who favored a big 3-ring loose leaf notebook that weighed about 6 pounds - with a 2x4 for the post that held up a 3/8" thick plywood top board.

Lin's Dell mini has a screen that's about 5" x 9" but that's only about half scale for an A4 sheet. I believe it listed at about $350 (US) when she got it, but I haven't watched prices since and can't guess whether used ones might be easy to find.

It has sufficient "computer power" to display a page in any of several formats that would seem reasonable (with appropriate programs) and runs Win7, but the built-in display might still be too small for what you want.

It can run an attached secondary monitor, (and hence obviously could run one of those "projectors" that are advertised). Using the smallest available "baby computer" with an attached monitor (or projector) to display what you want to see at a decent size and resolution might be a possibility, although you'd likely have to do some scheming and planning to come up with what's going to work in the specific situation where you want to use it.

With an iPad or Nook et. al. you'd have to look at whatever that device gives you. Separating the "look-at display" from the box that runs it might be a more flexible alternative, and most monitors would allow about 6 or 7 feet of separation between the display and whatever runs it. A "junker" laptop would be a little larger, but should be able to run a second monitor or projector.

In my local market, it would be hard to find a new monitor less than 2 ft wide, which is probably bigger (and more expensive) than you want; but I'm sure a little scrounging should find something of a more useful size.

In some situations, I think I could see projecting the picture on the floor(?), from a computer on the stand, and making it pretty big if that would be handy in places where you play - except where there's too much beer spilled down there.

John


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: DMcG
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 09:35 AM

I hold a lot of sheet music on my Kindle but its the simpler stuff: about the notational complexity of the things in the DT. I wouldn't want to hold four part choral music in it, for example. Since it supports PDF it is quite easy to put in, but its a good idea to hold each piece separately or in small groups; the search facilities are adequate for books but seem to be very slow when searching through a 500-page music collection.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: RichM
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 09:47 AM

Yes, personal $ circumstances are important.

Maybe you could consider an android based tablet? Or, a used iPad 1, or even an iPad 2, used ones may now or soon be available from people who upgrade to the iPad 3?

For myself, I can't exaggerate the convenience of an iPad2, that I have had since April '11. I resisted mainly because I'm conservative about spending my money (retired person on pension), and because I have always used a Windows PC.
But after seeing my wife use an iPad- she's Mac all the way- I was attracted to get my own. Have never regretted it, ALL my music and song lyrics are on it now, replacing about 5 three ring binders.

My regular picking buddies have also converted to tablet, some to iPad, others to Android devices. They all like them.

Android tablets are somewhat cheaper than iPads, so that's a consideration too.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Tootler
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 04:28 PM

I've just bought an Android tablet. Cost me £100 for an 8" screen, somewhat smaller than an iPad, though I saw 9" ones (same size as iPad) from about £150 new.

These cheaper Android tablets have perfectly adequate displays. They may lack some of the bells and whistles of an iPad, but if what you are after is mainly to display your music, they will do just fine.

I have put my songs in as well as my tune books in pdf format and the display is a reasonable size, though a 9" one would be closer to what you get from an A4 sheet. You can also get 10" Android tablets. They have a 16:9 screen aspect ratio where a 9" one has a 4:3 aspect ratio. I prefer the 4:3 aspect ratio which is why I went for a 8" tablet as it was a good compromise between screen size and size to carry round. I'm just waiting for my daughter to make me a holder for it before I can replace my books when I go out.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 09:03 PM

Points for reference:

Display of an A4 page at full size would require approximately a 14" screen. An A4 page has an aspect ratio of approximately 4:3 (actually 4.23:3) so full size wouldn't quite fit on a 14" monitor with 4:3 ratio, but any clipping would likely be absorbed in normal margins.

A printed paper A4 page generally will approximate at least a 150 dpi resolution (granularity) but the typical monitor screen isn't likely to be better than 96 dpi. Older monitors were often 72 dpi, but even new "small displays" may deviate from what's otherwise customary. Resolutions for the devices that have been mentioned probably should be easy to determine - but should and would are sometimes two different things. I haven't noticed any claims being made.

PDFs made directly from text will probably show at near the 96 dpi of the display, so they're likely to look pretty good, but PDF converters that embed graphics into PDF directly from a scanner and then extract text via OCR (built into some PDF converters, but results are similar with separate OCR) generally apply a couple of cycles of file compression, once to embed the graphic and again if generic fonts are applied to the OCR interpretation.

The usual intended resolution in the finished PDF, including the stuff that originated as images, with the most common settings, usually will be near the 96 dpi of the display since most converters are designed with the expectation of computer display (and web posting), but "registration" so that the pixels of the screen line up with the pixels of what's being displayed may give a "pixelated" appearance closer to an effective granulation of as low as 45 dpi - which is likely to look a somewhat fuzzy but may not be noticed except by direct comparison to something done via other methods, especially if the display is a little smaller than the original A4 page.

(The earliest "laser printers" had a stated resolution of 70 dpi, quickly moved up to 100, but we thought 100 dpi print was pretty good for several years.)

If you have a process that gives you images that look good enough on a device you've picked, this is all pretty much irrelevant; but if you run into material that needs to be "done differently" some awareness of where the fuzzies come from could be helpful.

The details of "where the fuzz comes from" will depend on the processes used, but the above referents may help to decide whether improvement is likely by tweaking things, if you need it.

John


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 05 Aug 12 - 09:17 PM

You seem very determined to ignore what I've said I want and insist I have to buy something I can't possibly afford.

Look at the GIF images on my flute music pages. That will do. A lot of what I'm actually playing from is higher resolution than that, but I can key it in as ABC and use a cruder and clearer image.

Speed of access is much more of a problem than resolution. Since I've never used a digital picture frame I've no idea what their user interfaces can be like.

Two hundred sheets of A4 would be a bit much for most music stands

Wobbly but it works, and my stand is pretty basic. Hasn't fallen over for months.

I carry a lot of instruments and accessory clutter around anyway, I can't take on a solution that involves even more weight and complexity.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: JohnInKansas
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 03:20 AM

My comment about 200 pages being a pretty big load for common kinds of music stands was intended as an expression of understanding of why you want to do something different. I certainly didn't intend that you should get a bigger stand.

Some of us might have a spare laptop, or one that doesn't get much use otherwise. Although it can be risky, one can get a used laptop that works long enough to carry it to the car for around $30, which is probably cheaper than most of the picture frames. It takes a little more caution, and probably a few more bucks to get one that will still work by the time you get it home and out of the car or to get an OS that's not far out of date.

We have two digital picture frames, both bottom of the line things used just for an "off computer screen saver." With the two we have, you load files onto a flash card and stick it in the frame. With the more expensive one, I think you can choose between two separate folders of pictures and have it display one or the other. The other just flips whatever pictures are on the card.

On both of them you can choose how fast it should flip the pictures, but changing the rate requires a fairly major manipulation, which would require changing settings to speed up the rate in order to go to a particular picture and then changing the whole setup again to get it to remain on that picture long enough (maybe) to play the piece.

None of the settings are particularly obvious or easy to change. There were no instructions that were particularly helpful with either frame.

Frames might be available with more versatility, but the ones we have would not be suitable for what you want to do (IMO).

I would expect a more sophisticated frame might allow you to pause on a picture, but not necessarily to easily "quick step" through the pictures or to select a picture and go directly to it.

If you already have a Kindle or Nook, it probably is possible to display what you want on either of them, possibly with some adjustment of the images and formats. I'm not sure what indexing, search, and go-to functions are available in those kinds of devices, or how well they work.

Very limited looking at what's required for Nook generally has led into discussions of several of the devices of similar kind, and while the "format specifications" don't seem to be particularly burdensome, I've found frequent discussions about "quirks" peculiar to each device that you may have to handle, or that may not be at all applicable to your use. The only way I can think of to separate the "dammits" from the "sowhats" would be for you to try to set one up to do what you want, and fix whatever pops up in your use of it.

Lin informs me that the New "color Nook" that she got recently is the "Simple Touch" and was $139, but offers her opinion that it would NOT do what you want. She suggests that you would need to step up to the "Tablet Nook" that was $199 list recently, that's "more like a smart phone." I'm not sure of how she reached her conclusion, so it's a FWIW comment, and prices may vary some depending on where you are and how hard they're pushing the merchandise when you get there.

John


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Tootler
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 04:24 AM

My suggestions were for devices that cost about the same as a Kindle or Nook and the smaller one has about the same screen size.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Tootler
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 04:24 AM

My suggestions were for devices that cost about the same as a Kindle or Nook and the smaller one has about the same screen size.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Desert Dancer
Date: 06 Aug 12 - 07:34 PM

Page turning wouldn't be very convenient with a photo frame, but one I bought at Christmas for my folks has a remote control, which I'd think you'd want (and many don't have), and you can navigate among images from a gallery of thumbnails, which would expedite finding your tunes. Surely you can go to a store where they have some demonstration models to try, or you can look at user's manuals online...

~ Becky in Tucson


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 07 Aug 12 - 05:33 AM

Jack - This was mentioned in a thread Tech: Android Tablets 2012 - What's Useful? about useful stuff for an Android Tablet. It might be worth a look.
I recently bought a 7" Android Tablet (around £75 for the tablet plus another £11 or so for a carry case which includes a keyboard for typing using small real keys) and 10" ones start around £110 on ebay.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 01:09 PM

I seem to have missed the link I thought I had put in the above posting.
Here it is - MobileSheets was mentioned in a thread about Android Tablets.
Quack!
GtD.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Jack Campin
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 01:57 PM

That looks pretty well thought out - thanks.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 02:32 PM

Hi Jack.
I have just set Mobilesheets to download onto my android. I'll report back after I have had a chance to look at it for real.
Geoff.


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Subject: RE: Digital photo frames for music
From: Geoff the Duck
Date: 09 Aug 12 - 05:29 PM

Hi Jack.
I downloaded some music from your web site (http://www.campin.me.uk/Flute/Webrelease/Flute/04March/04March.htm) - "To Ballance a Straw" and "The Miller of Drone".
I downloaded the Tall and the Wide versions of the .gif files. I also ran the ABC for The Miller of Drone through Jon Freeman's Folkinfo "ABC Converter, and saved the result as as A4 PDF file. On the PDF, the music prints as two lines of music at the upper half of a page.

First impression of Mobilesheets on a 7" Android tablet.

Once I had copied the music image files onto the Android, I opened the Mobilesheets App. Loading music was easy - a standard file selection menu. You can put several of the image files together as a "song" - essentially as pages you can turn. You can't at present load a PDF in the same song as a .gif page.
Once loaded, you can display the music pages. When you load a song, it starts at the first "page". You can turn to the next page by tapping the right side of the touch screen.
You can zoom a .gif to a slightly higher magnification, but not (it would seem) a smaller one. A PDF zooms larger AND smaller (I think).

The images on the screen were readable when in Landscape view, but too small in a Portrait display. The "Wide" view fitted better.
The PDF view showed the two lines of music at the top of the page.

Additional features included being able to add a metronome beat (not sure how to control it).
You can also "Auto-scroll" your image. It starts after a couple of seconds and after a delay moved the page down two lines. I suspect the moving of lines was tied in to the number of metronome beats matching the number of bars in the image (but I could be just making that up).

I haven't looked at the more advanced file / songbook / music collection organising within the programme, but you seem to be able to organise by different criteria.

Quack!
Geoff.


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