Cool Tech Reviews

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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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November 26, 2006

How about a digital picture frame?

Recently I’ve been checking Amazon’s electronics best seller list to see how Microsoft’s Zune is doing (not too well compared to Apple’s iPod) and one thing that has amazed me is the popularity of digital picture frames. Right now, #10 on Amazon’s list is the $89.99 (special price) Digital Spectrum MemoryFrame MF-575 5.6-Inch Digital Picture Frame:


and #13 is the $167.92 Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Picture Frame (Clear) w/3 Additional Colored Frames:

However, just searching Amazon or your favorite retailer will turn up a lot more in various sizes, feature levels, and prices.

Reviews of the Digital Spectrum Memory Frame MF-575 seem to be in short supply and it isn’t even listed at the Digital Spectrum website (which lists a number of other models), but based on the Amazon description,  it has a 5.6 inch (diagonal) TFT LCD screen that fits into a standard 5×7 inch picture frame (a wood one is included in the unit) and the frame can be set on a desk or mounted on a wall.  It doesn’t appear that it has any internal storage of its own, but takes standard camera MD/SD/MMC memory cards which also can contain MP3 music and MPEG1, 2, 4 movie format (up to 320×240) video. A remote control comes with the unit so you can change the display and set up slide shows.

The Philips unit is their model number 7FF1M4/37 and is nearly twice the price, but you get a bigger 6.5 inch (diagonal) display and it has 32 MB internal memory as well a USB connection and provision for Compact Flash I (CF) cards as well as Memory Stick (MS), SD Card and Multi Media Cards (MMC). This particular model fits a high tech decor with a clear plastic frame as well as three color bezels that can be added, but there are a variety of other models with a more traditional look. It apparently is controlled with buttons on the back and not with a remote.

As for reviews, you can check the reviews of the similar Philips model 7FF1AW on Daggle and Engadget, but everyone seems to agree it’s a great gadget. The only substantial caveat:

The display is, unfortunately smaller than we imagined from the press photos and marketing collateral. Guess we fixated too much on those, er “7-inches” which in photography patter would indicate a device for showcasing 5 x 7-inch photos. Oh right, Philips manufactures displays so that measurement is diagonal! Thus the actual LCD is 3.6 x 5.4-inches (9 x 14-centimeters) which is still respectable and in-line with traditional frames you’ll find in most homes — just not what we had expected.

And that’s a point worth remembering - no matter which model or manufacturer you choose since diagonal screen measurement is the standard.

I suppose the other comment that should be made is that digital picture frames aren’t particularly cheap, particularly if you go for a larger screen size like the $ 399 15 inch MF-1500 from Digital Spectrum:

For a few dollars more you can just buy a laptop!

Posted at 2:35 pm. Filed under Companies, Digital Picture Frame, Digital Spectrum, Philips

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