Advantages Simple to use
Disadvantages Less than ideal picture quality
The concept is perfectly sound; a device which is far less complicated to use than a 'proper' computer, a means of displaying a slideshow, with various transitions, and a plethora of connectivity options.
Were it to have a drawback, it would be the display itself, and the fact you need an external power supply.
What you get is a plastic tablet, which is comparable in size and weight to a standard photo frame. On the front is a black plastic bezel, and on the back, a number of buttons, various sockets for digital media and on the side, a USB 'host' socket.You can use the frame in a number of modes, perhaps the easiest would be to take the media from your camera, and plug it into your frame, It has support for the current 'standard' formats including standard SD, MMC, xD, Compact Flash, Sony Memory Stick, and Memory Stick pro.
The CF slot isn't wide enough to support the thicker 'Microdrive' format CFII disksYou can also plug in a USB stick, or with appropriate connectors, your camera, phone, or USB memory adapter supporting less popular formats, such as Smart Media.
The unit supports an extensive range of menus which allows selecting memory types, transitions, length of display and so on, but in practice, you'll tend to slap in your card, switch it on, and most of that would be taken care of automatically.It doesn't just show photographs in sequence.
You can set the date and time, and have the unit display your pictures alongside a calendar or clock, something which is likely to be of genuine use once the initial novelty has passed.You're not limited to viewing your pictures in landscape format either, the unit has a tilt sensor which automatically rotates images if you turn the frame 90' to 'portrait format' - nice touch!
The one thing which lets the whole unit down is the display - it only shows pictures at a maximum of 480 x 234 pixels, and even then, gradient shading can appear a little harsh - it doesn't show tones in 32 bit, I've not been able to establish precisely what colour depth it might be, but it wouldn't surprise me if it was 16 or even 8 bit resolution.Another disappointment is that it doesn't have internal batteries, so you'll always have a power cable to contend with.
Were I to be absolutely brutal, I'd suggest that this was 'developing technology' - and as production costs are bound to fall, it's possibly worth holding out for higher resolution screens.
Something which MIGHT be of interest is that you could use it as a small 'notice board' - if you were to create graphic images, you could have it displaying text such as 'back at noon' - 'Visitors must check in at reception' and so on.
A guideline price would be around fifty quid, although this may drop to more reasonable levels as newer models come onstream.
We got ours as a promotion on a 'nectar' card, which is possibly an indication that it's going 'end of marketing' to be replaced by more capable models.
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