It’s been a year since I last took a look at digital picture frames and not unexpectedly there have been a number of advances. Here’s a summary of new and interesting offerings where I will, as usual, use Amazon as a pricing reference. You may find better deals elsewhere.
Last year I mentioned the Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Picture Frame (Clear) w/3 Additional Colored Frames which was selling for $167.92. It’s still a highly rated digital picture frame, but now it is going for $129.99 at Amazon (Other colors choices are slightly more or less). As always, bear in mind that the 6.5-inch is a diagonal measure and that the screen is actually 3.6 x 5.4-inches (9 x 14-centimeters).
Note also that the Philips has a screen resolution of 720×480 and a 170 degree viewing angle. If you are willing to compromise on those you can find cheaper frames like the $69.99 Matsunichi Photoblitz 7-Inch Digital Picture Frame which only has a screen resolution of 480×234. That may well be fine for some users, but others find the display pixilated or grainy (see the Amazon user reviews).
If you want a little more size than 6.5-inch diagonal, there’s the similar but larger Philips 8.5-Inch Digital Picture Frame (Clear) w/3 Additional Colored Frames for $199.40 and again other color choices will raise or lower the price a bit with the white version cheapest at $179.99. You may also find bigger bargains like the Westinghouse 8-Inch LCD Digital Photo Frame with 800×600 resolution which Amazon lists for $80 off at $119.99, but it is currently out of stock.
I don’t have a recommendation for even bigger sizes, but one that seems to be popular is the Opteka 11.3″ Digital Picture Frame which has been reduced a massive $150 to $169.95 and also plays video and MP3 audio.
With the Opteka frame mentioned immediately above as an example, the ability to play audio and video is increasingly being built in to digital picture frames and it’s not surprising since a digital picture frames is basically a personal media player in a different form factor. However, bear in mind that you could get real tired of a picture frame that endlessly loops the same audio tracks and that the speakers on the frames tend to be pretty basic. I’ll save a more detailed discussion of this one for a later post.
You load most digital picture frames with a USB cable connected to your PC or a memory card or flash drive, but some are now offering Wi-Fi for those users who have a wireless home network. That’s probably not so good for grandma, but will attract some users despite the price bump. An example is the $229 Kodak Easyshare EX-811 8-inch Digital Picture Frame which seems to be popular and a good enough picture frame for the more technical user (requires firmware updates to get some features), but doesn’t support encryption on your home network which is definitely foolish. There may be some better Wi-Fi digital picture frames out there, but I don’t currently know of one.
Manufacturers have taken the basic digital picture frame function, coupled it with small LCD screen technology and have put it into every kind of gadget from keychains to wallets to Christmas tree ornaments. There’s nothing the matter with that, but before you get too excited, bear in mind that the displays are fragile and the units will need battery replacement.