Such a Deal on a Digital Picture Frame, You'll Buy One for Every Room

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When it comes to framed photos, families are prone to show off printed images under glass sooner than digital versions on LCDs. That could be changing, though, as prices of digital picture frames sink to new lows. Take the versatile DPF-A72N/B Digital Photo Frame from Sony. The 7-inch screen used to be priced at $99.95. Now, with a $45 instant rebate, you pay only $54.95. The offer ends on June 20.

More than a self-running slide show, the Sony frame is also a calendar and a clock. The frame can be set vertically or horizontally with or without the included stand, and it has an auto-orientation sensor that adjusts images to the correct position without human intervention. There's internal memory for storing pictures, two card slots for playing or copying images, and a USB port for receiving stills from a camera or computer. And, the frame comes with a multifunction mini remote (below) that duplicates the controls on the rear panel.

I examined the Sony picture frame in a well-lit room and found images to be bright and colorful even when viewed from the side seats. The resolution, at 480 x 234 pixels (WQVGA) in a wide 16:10 aspect ratio is more than sufficient, considering the 7-inch screen size. The LCD is attractively framed in a glossy black bezel.

There are myriad ways to display pictures, either full-size or in multiples of two or three images, at various rectangular sizes at once. In slide show mode, there are ten transition patterns. If you choose the Random option, each change can be accompanied by a varying wipe and one, two or three images may then appear.

The clock and calendar modes add practical functionality to the esoteric nature of viewing pictures of loved ones. You choose from three clock views: a 50:50 split between clock face and image; a digital date and time readout in the lower left corner of a full-screen image; or an analog clock with moving second hand in the upper right corner of the full-screen image. You can also choose a monthly calendar with the current date highlighted, overlaying an image, or as the occupant of half the screen with the other half the image.

The frame's 128 Megabytes of internal memory stores up to 250 images. Slots accommodate most popular memory cards and a USB (Type B) interface lets you attach a computer or camera. (The cable is not included.)

The Sony DPF-A72N/B Digital Photo Frame represents an inexpensive yet flexible introduction to the world of digital display. It's a great addition to every household, and enables you to show off images of your loved ones with pride.