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Monday, November 24, 2008

Toolbox: Digital Photo Frames

Share your images with the digital take on a familiar photo frame

This Article Features Photo Zoom

digital photo frames

Calumet Digital Photo Frame

Despite the variety of options available for sharing images, nothing has the classical appeal of a photo frame, and digital has made the possibilities even more fun. Images can be presented on bright, vivid LCD screens in beautiful slideshows of single or multiple images. A variety of sizes are available for hanging on walls, placement around the house or on desks in the studio or office, and even as portable key chains. Uploading images often is as simple as plugging in a memory card, and modern digital photo frames can display images from wireless connections—one service even makes it possible to update a frame by telephone for family members who don’t have a computer.

What To Look For In A Digital Frame
While price is an obvious consideration in your choice, you can make your shopping decisions easier by knowing ahead of time what features you want in a digital frame.

Size. Frames are available from a small 4x6-inch desktop format up to a huge 32-inch wall mount. In the smaller sizes, it’s more about looks; these frames feature basic functionality. Starting with the 7-inch and larger frames, you’ll begin to see the high-tech options that differentiate the various frames.

Resolution. At all but the smallest sizes, you should look for a minimum resolution of 640 x 480, and like many things, more is better; 1024 x 768 is a standard size on many of the 15-inch frames, while the Smartparts 32-inch frame offers 1366 x 768. You’ll also need to decide in which aspect ratio you’re most interested. Many of the frames are offered in the traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, while some frames are available in 16:9 wide-aspect-ratio formats.

digital photo frames

CEIVAlife Studio

Display Options. All of the frames featured here support JPEG images, and many are capable of displaying video and playing music, as well, through built-in speakers. Also, most units let you display a single image or all images as a slideshow, and some add music and selectable transitions. Frames automatically scale and rotate images for proper display.

Controls. Frames can be controlled by buttons on the frame, either with physical buttons or touch-screen controls. Some models have remote controls or can be operated from a computer.

Image Handling. All but the most basic of frames include a card reader for most popular memory-card formats. Some also include a USB port for plugging in a drive. Beyond this, you’ll find frames that are Bluetooth- or WiFi-enabled. Bluetooth is handy for things like automatically sending your images from a cell phone, while WiFi gives you full control over the frame from your computer through your wireless network and makes it possible to upload images remotely if your network has Internet connectivity.

Consider where the frame will live. If you have a wireless network, WiFi is a great option. If you don’t have a wireless network, or if the frame will live at grandma’s house with no computers, a built-in card reader or telephone connectivity are your best choices.

One of the original digital-frame providers, Ceiva is unique in its dialup service. For about $7 a month, you can have the PicturePlan service that automatically sends photos from anywhere. This makes it a great option for sharing photos with someone who doesn’t have a computer. PicturePlan also includes online storage of images, as well as channels for news, weather, sports and more. The frames function as normal without the PicturePlan feature, and include a 7- or 8-inch frame with support for SD/MMC, xD, MS, CF and SM cards. An optional WiFi or broadband adapter is available to connect the frame to a home network. List Price: $129 and up.

digital photo frames

JOBO Mirage L

JOBO offers a range of frames, and all of them can be connected to an external storage device, such as the JOBO GIGA Vu, to access huge numbers of images. The small S4 can be carried in a pocket or purse and includes an alarm clock, making it a nice carry-along for the traveling type. List Price: $49.

For more traditional desktop use, the PDJ105 has 512 MB of memory and holds up to 5,000 images. The frame supports single image, slideshow, collages, zoom and rotate, as well as a calendar and clock, all controlled via onboard buttons or the included remote control. List Price: $239.

The PDJ151 increases the size to 15 inches with a 1024 x 768 resolution and includes 1 GB of memory, as well as three interchangeable frame veneers. List Price: $359.

The Mirage L is a unique frame in that it doubles as a mirror when turned off. Wall-mounted or on a desk, the 1024 x 768 15-inch frame with 1 GB of memory offers single, slideshow and thumbnail views, along with a calendar and clock display. It supports all popular memory-card formats. List Price: $359.

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