Digital photos. Simultaneously the best thing ever and one of the biggest problems in the digital age. It’s never been easier to document our lives but it’s also never been harder to keep that documentation organized and accessible. That’s where Lyve ($299) comes in.
Lyve describes itself as a solution to collect, protect and rediscover people’s most important moments. And let me tell you right now, it’s one of the coolest products I’ve come across in the last… well, ever.
Life before Lyve: iPhoto
Before Lyve, I was organizing my photos using iPhoto. iPhoto (soon to become Photos) does have some nice features such as face recognition, but it’s usefulness was obliterated by Lyve.
With iPhoto, managing pictures and videos from multiple people (ie in a family setting) was a beast. There were multiple copies of files on multiple computers and backing them all up was messy and frankly unintuitive. Plus, I hate the way iPhoto organizes photos. If you’ve ever clicked “reveal in Finder” in iPhoto then you know what I’m talking about.
Also, once photos/videos have been copied to a computer library using iPhoto, it’s almost like they are forgotten unless you go hunting for them. Plus, once they’re copied, they’re not easily accessible from your device or other devices unless you want to shell out for a monthly storage fee (iCloud or a similar service).
Lyve: the basics
Lyve is a small white box with a touchscreen that is slightly larger than the screen of an iPhone 5. The pure-white exterior looks sharp and clean. This is a storage device you’ll absolutely want sitting out in your house on full display—not something you can say about any other storage device I can think of. That’s because it’s useful beyond storage.
Before you can get your massive collection of photos and videos backed up and organized, you’ve got to get them all into the same place. This is a task that Lyve makes ridiculously easy (and oh so satisfying).
Once the Lyve device is setup users can install apps on their various devices to link them all up with the “home base.” When the apps have been installed they will automatically begin sending photos to the Lyve storage device.
So, if you take some photos on your iPhone and your spouse takes some photos on theirs they will both end up on the Lyve unit—automatically—as soon as the devices hit your home network.
Collecting photos from non-phone cameras is simple as well. I’ve got a DSLR that I use for higher quality photos and all I need to do is connect it up to my computer and let the photos flow back to the Lyve.
Finally, and this is a big part of the puzzle, Lyve can grab photos from any external storage device you’ve got via a USB port. This is perfect for importing that huge, tangled mess of a photo archive you’ve been adding to but faithfully neglecting to organize for the past decade.
Once your photos are all in the same place, Lyve ensures you can continue to keep them all together. It accomplishes this by offering up a ton of storage—2 TB to be exact.
The 2 TB device will store massive amounts of photos and videos. The device can store nearly 420,000 RAW images that are about 5 MB each (high quality DSLR photos) and nearly 1,050,000 photos taken with a standard camera or cell phone (at 2 MB each).
While the above two features are incredible and necessary in and of themselves (collecting and backing up your media), it’s the ability to view and especially to rediscover that media that really makes this device so outstanding.
Lyve’s app interface is simple (at least for the moment) but awesome. And who said simple was bad? It’s my default view that simpler is almost always better.
The Lyve device itself can be set to display photos in a sort of a scrolling slideshow which is a nice way to reminisce about past memories at random times.
I find the experience of discovering past moments at a glance as I walk by the Lyve drive entertaining and thrilling all at the same time. I also LOVE the way I can sift through ALL my photos by day using the Lyve apps.
If you think about it: when do you or would you typically start digging through the thousands of photos you take each week or month or year? If you’re like most people, the answer is probably hardly ever or very rarely.
If you want to put your pictures on display—easily—you can do so thanks to the HDMI port located on the back of the Lyve drive.
Lyve’s app design takes cues from Windows 8 and that’s really not a bad thing. The Metro-style look makes for a colorful and easy way to scroll through photos and dates whether you’re looking for something specific or for a surprise.
As you scroll through you’ll see photos flip to reveal the contents within each day’s album. When you click on a day you can see a photo grid or a list view. Clicking on a photo will initiate a temporary download so you can view the photo in all it’s glory including zooming in. You can also share photos via message, mail, Twitter or Facebook.
If you have a large archive of partially or mostly unorganized photos, Lyve is a life saver. If you want an easy way to access your vast collection, whether recent photos from earlier in the day or forgotten photos from earlier in the decade, Lyve makes it easy. If you need lots of room to store your photos you might as well make them accessible as well and that’s exactly what you will get with Lyve. It’s one of the coolest, most useful products I’ve come across in a very long time.