Cool Tech Reviews

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December 6, 2008

2008 Digital Picture Frame Review

It’s been a year since my last digital picture frame round-up, and the crop of new digital picture frames for 2008 can best be described as, "Bigger and Cheaper!" because there is more selection in the over 11 inch sizes and because a there has been a general reduction in the prices of all sizes. Below are my selections for best of breed and, as always, I use Amazon as a pricing reference, but you may find better deals elsewhere.

Large digital picture frames (11 inch and larger):

Recall that the stated sizes of digital picture frames are measured diagonally across the screen, but even so an 11 inch model is rather large and almost makes you want to put it on a wall. That’s fine and doable for most units, but remember there will be a power cord hanging down so a better location is on a credenza or shelf or a large desk.

In the large size frames, Opteka seems to be the best vendor with their 11.3 and 15 inch models which are reasonably priced and which get very good reviews:


The Opteka units have wood frames, are easy to set up, and have great pictures as well as 128MB of built-in memory so you don’t have to leave a memory card in the frame unless you want to, although you will need a memory card to hold a large number of pictures. You can also add pictures via USB from your computer.

Be aware that, as with all digital picture frames, the integral speakers for playing MP3 tunes don’t have very good sound quality, but I still regard sound as a dubious feature for digital picture frames – they aren’t intended to be sound systems.

Standard desk size digital picture frames (6 – 8 inches):

Digital picture frames got their start as desk accessories and while you can go smaller or larger, the best size is in the 6 inch to 8 inch range. Many of these will have battery power, but the battery life is usually on the order of an hour so it would only be usable for briefly handing the frame around.

I see that there is a new version of the venerable Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Photo Frame selling for around $75 when it was $168 in 2006 and $130 last year, but the Philips frames have been getting less favorable reviews lately, so I would instead choose one from Sony, Kodak, or Opteka.

Sony has the DPF line of desk size frames with great pictures, but be aware that they are rather pricey.


Kodak as always has its EasyShare digital picture frame line which is well regarded and competitively priced, but also offers more expensive versions that can be accessed wirelessly via Wi-Fi:


Finally, Opteka has a highly rated 8 inch frame with features similar to its larger cousins:

Portable digital picture frames:

There are a variety of digital picture frame gadgets available that allow you to hold and display your pictures on a keychain or a necklace or something else similarly small and portable. In principle there is no reason why this should not work and be a useful niche, but I have yet to see one of these with good reviews.  You would be better off putting the pictures into your MP3 player with a screen. Maybe next year this will change.

Posted at 1:35 am. Filed under Companies, Digital Picture Frame, Kodak, Opteka, Philips, Sony

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December 2, 2007

2007 Digital Picture Frame Update

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.

Old favorites at lower prices

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).

Larger sizes

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.

Multimedia capability

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.

Wireless connectivity

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.

Other form factors

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.

Posted at 2:54 pm. Filed under Companies, Digital Picture Frame, Kodak, Opteka, Philips

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