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.
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!