Snappy FAQ

Frequently Asked Questions
on Snappy



I found that a number of questions regarding Snappy is fairly standard and this page is an effort to address the most common ones, answered to the best of my knowledge. I was also fortunate to make e-mail contact with an ex-Play employee who was very helpful to answer a number of my own questions as well - some of which were edited in here below.

Q I have an old Snappy which does not work under modern operating systems any more. How can I revive this extremely useful little tool again?
A Download and install the latest version of the control software and the corresponding patch for that version and your type of Snappy (NTSC or PAL) and your old Snappy will be as good as new again!

Q How can I tell if I have the NTSC or PAL version of Snappy?
A Remove the battery cover and check the silver foil visible just above the battery - if this foil cover is unmarked, yours is most likely a NTSC version since this foil in the PAL versions are clearly stamped with the word "PAL".

The TV-standard of the country you live in is also a good clue. In general, the USA and Canada uses the NTSC system where most of Europe, China, India, Australia and Southern Africa standardised on PAL. If you are still unsure of your country's TV standard, check with your local TV repair shop or try this site.

Q What is the difference between the various versions of Snappy?
A Except for the already mentioned hardware differences between NTSC and PAL, the Snappy hardware remained functionally the same throughout the life of the product, ie Ver 1.0 through Ver 4.0 with the main difference being the included software bundle. It is therefore possible to upgrade a Snappy Ver 1.0 all the way to Ver 4.0 with the appropriate downloads from my website.

Q Why does there seem less support and software for the PAL version of Snappy?
A The PAL version was primarily marketed by Logitech who picked it up with version 2.0. It didn't do nearly as well in Europe as it did in the US so there wasn't much focus on PAL markets with Snappy towards the end.

Q How does the quality of Snappy captures compare to other video capturing devices?
A Snappy was (and still is!) a great product and very good technology. There's still nothing on the market that does the field combining mode that generated such high-quality stills from non-moving video. Interestingly, this mode was almost not put in the product, yet it ultimately became one of Snappy's biggest claims to fame.

Q I find the mutiple of capture mode settings somewhat confusing. How do I make sense out of this lot and how to select the best setting for a particular application?
A Snappy basically has four capture modes: 1 field, 2 field, 4 field and 8 field found under the Picture Quality setup menu as Moving Scene, Still Scene, High Quality Still Scene and Highest Quality Still Scene respectively.

Each mode is actually getting more and more information. From moving video the proper mode is 1 field. From a paused VCR the proper mode is 2 field (most show two fields of info in pause). If you have the camera on a tripod or stand and pointed at something not moving, you can use the last two modes to turn your camcorder essentially into a scanner. In 4 and 8 field modes it keeps all the fields and interpolates them together. This results in a better image because on subsequent frames the CCD imager will reveal slightly different information. Some of it is noise, which is subtracted out and other information is valid and improves the picture. In this way, Snappy can grab sensational pictures with the limitation that the source is stationary.

Selecting High Definition Mode further improves images by additional image processing, but with a time penalty.

Q What is the little five-pin connector visible on the side of the Snappy, just above the two RCA composite video connectors?
A This connector was intended at one time for an S-Video connector. The main reason why this S-Video add-on was never shipped is related to they way S-Video works.

As is well known, Snappy works by decoding composite video. It has no internal input for separate chroma and luma. The five pin connector thus basically recombines the video back into composite inside the Snappy and then digitizes it normally and would therefore make little difference except in certain cases. The only benefit to the S-Video connector would have been for those cameras which happened to have better S-Video output circuitry than composite output circuitry. In this case, the S-Video connector would have avoided the camera's poor composite output circuitry. Assuming that the composite output of the camera wasn't faulty, the S-Video connector wouldn't have actually digitized any better.

A hand-soldered prototype verified that this was true in that it made no discernable improvement in quality. However, it seems that a pre-production run of a commercial prototype was made at some stage. One catch with this adaptor was that the normal composite Video-In and Video-Thru connectors cannot be used simultaneously since the S-Video input is going through the composite digitizing circuit, preventing you form having two sources hooked up.

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