Why hide favorite photos in a computer subfolder when you can proudly display them on a digital picture frame? Unlike a conventional print-under-glass holder, today’s electronic frames run slideshows, show videos, play songs and double as clocks and calendars. Some models are portable, with built-in rechargeable batteries. Almost all contain enough memory to store hundreds, even thousands, of photos. Capacity almost always can be expanded using a frame’s built-in card slot or USB port. One model even shows 3D images.
Screens vary from a wallet-size 1.8 inches to a wall-mountable 19 inches; resolutions from as little as 160 x 128 pixels to as much as 1440 x 900 pixels.
The smallest photo viewers also happen to be the least expensive; where for once in technology you don’t pay a premium for portability. The Coby DP180 Digital Photo Keychain is so reasonably priced and lightweight that you could hang a bunch, displaying shifting images of ornaments from a tree—real ornaments optional. It’s truly designed to be a digital wallet/keychain digital frame with 1MB of NOR Flash memory, which would be plenty of space to load and display assorted photos of family, friends, pets and special places—all attached to your keys or in your purse. Just gift-wrap them for placement under the tree. An integrated rechargeable lithium-ion battery powers the show, and the same USB 2.0 port that charges the Photo Keychain lets you transfer JPEG, GIF and BMP files for viewing. The 1.8-inch Thin Film Transistor Liquid Crystal Display (TFT LCD), with 160 x 168 full-color display resolution, is bordered by your choice of blue, black, red or white frame. Don’t forget to take advantage of the added functionality by attaching your house keys to the loop.
A step up in wallet photo-like carriage is a larger screen inside a stylish snap-cover case. The Impecca DPA 350 Touch Screen Digital Photo Album sports a 3.5-inch TFT LCD touch screen with 320 x 240 resolution. When you open the cover, the album automatically powers on and affords access to as many as 4,000 JPEG or BMP images, organized in up to nine folders. The rechargeable lithium-ion battery provides continuous power for four hours, more than sufficient for the stranger on the flight next to grandma to feign the need to nap. A special feature reserves battery life when the digital photo album isn’t in use. The touch-screen controls provide a user-friendly interface to share your photos in the slideshow mode and you can even add text to your digital images. This style photo album is ideal for travelers, students and professionals. Plus, the album case is available in colors including black, purple, tan, red, blue, white and even hot pink.
The Digital Foci Photo Book could be the ultimate wedding or baby book. The slightly larger, 8-inch (800 x 600) TFT LCD screen is equipped with a speaker and a protective cover that doubles as a stand. The Photo Book features 800 x 600 resolution and 4:3 aspect ratio. Transfer RAW, JPEG, TIF, GIF and BMP photos with music or videos into the 4 Gigabytes of internal memory (expandable via SD and CF memory card slots and also offering support for SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick, MS PRO, xD cards and a USB port); it also supports transfers from USB thumb drives. The Photo Book becomes a true multimedia experience that may even surpass my parents’ jumbo black-and-white wedding album with integral windup “Here Comes the Bride” music box. (By comparison, the Photo Book weighs only 2.2 lb.)
Now, instead of putting on the soundtrack of that summer driving cross-country while you look through old photographs, you can transfer the tunes and play them right from the Photo Book as you enjoy the elegant page-turning effect of the slideshow feature. Unlike the pocket-sized portable albums, this unit’s rechargeable lithium polymer battery can be charged by AC adapter or USB port, and you don’t have to use a coin as a crank.
Compared to the Photo Book, the Impecca Digital Photo Album offers less functionality but is also less expensive. Available in a white frame with black case, the album does feature the same 800 x 600 resolution, but only on a 7-inch LCD. The 2GB internal memory, while only half that of the Photo Book, can store up to 1,000 digital photos and is equipped with one card slot (SD-type, but not CF). There is no speaker to support music or video. The display can be powered by an internal rechargeable battery for traveling or AC power when you stand up the frame for tabletop use. The slideshow interval can be adjusted from displaying as many as three photos per second to one photo per day.
In an unusual twist, Aiptek offers a portable, rechargeable frame with 8-inch screen that does something none of the other models in this roundup can do: show photos and videos in 3D—glasses free, to boot! The Aiptek Portable 3D Photo & Video Display incorporates a parallax barrier that superimposes one image on top of another and effectively causes each eye to see a separate image, creating the illusion of depth. The frame can automatically convert 2D into 3D. This truly takes the classic picture frame into the 21st century; plus, you don’t even need those 3D glasses. The display supports JPEG for photo files, MPEG4 for video and MP3 for audio files. Like other similar-sized albums and frames, the Aiptek display features 800 x 600 resolution. It’s only equipped with 512MB of internal memory—much less than other units. But, you can expand memory with SD or SDHC memory cards of up to 16GB. For video, the 3D digital frame does support 720/30p output and it’s even available as part of the Aiptek 3D Combo kit, which includes the company’s 3D-HD 720p Camcorder.
Just as the dusty 7- to 10" picture frame is widely popular on mantles, walls, dressers and tabletops, the 7- to 10" digital picture frame marks the most popular size range in today’s market. The electronic version almost always comes with an AC adapter, which is kept out of sight on a wall outlet.
Sony offers a variety of Digital Photo Frames including 7-, 8- and 10.1-inch models, each with 2GB of internal memory and multi-card slots. Like other makers, Sony uses an LCD digital Photo Frame, which it calls its Clear Photo LCD Display. It boasts WVGA 800 x 480 resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio. These frames show slideshows (a maximum of 4,000 photos can be stored on their internal memory, including copies to and from memory to memory card) and videos (including AVCHD and motion JPEG) and can store 40 background songs for use with your pictures. The Sony Digital Photo Frames support the MemoryStick Duo, MemoryStick PRO Duo, MagicGate MemoryStick Duo, SD, SDHC and SDXC memory cards. Besides displaying your JPEG, TIFF, BMP (Windows Format) and RAW (preview only), these frames also support Motion JPEG, AVCHD, MP3, AAC and WAV for HD movie playback and audio playback. Sony made sure that they could playback 1920 x 1080/60p videos taken by camcorders as well. In addition, each digital frame features an LED backlight and Image Display Setting for centering the image on the screen or filling the entire screen.
Like other digital frames, these three Digital Photo Frames have a slideshow playback for stills that can follow ten different patterns. They also have video slideshow, image playback, a clock feature and a calendar playback as well. You can juxtapose a clock/calendar along with your pictures or cause the clock face to go full screen.
Calendar, clock and alarm functions are also available in the Viewsonic 8" Digital Media Album, and you’ll be able to enjoy customized photo slideshows with 13 different transitions and background music. You can zoom into a photo or play video. However, the frame contains no internal memory, so you’ll need to store photos, music and videos on an SD card or USB flash drive. There are programmable on and off functions to save energy, which supplements the already-efficient LED backlight.
The Viewsonic 8" LCD Digital Frame is equipped with 4GB of internal memory, but you can insert an SD card or USB flash drive for memory expansion, too. Like the Media Album, the Digital Frame has an energy-saving auto on/off feature, brightness adjustment and LED backlight—making it a nice fit for a green home.
The Digital Foci Image Moments 8 is another TFT LCD digital photo frame with LED backlight that comes with three interchangeable mats (cream, gray and black), giving you the power of analog “surround” control. Beyond the 450MB of internal memory, slots accommodate CF, SD and other memory card types. Professional photographers will also appreciate the frame’s ability to read RAW and TIFF images as well as the more common formats. It’s also compatible with Motion JPEG, MPEG-1 and MPEG-4 video. For audio, the frame plays video, MP3, WMA and AAC files through built-in stereo speakers.
The Pandigital PanImage 10.4" Digital Photo Frame is distinguished by an espresso-colored wood bezel with removable photo matte, 1GB of internal memory and CF card support. You can also store and display up to 5,000 images, in 4:3 aspect ratio, from a USB flash drive. Built-in stereo speakers enhance the show. Keep in mind that compatible formats are limited to JPEG photos, AVI video and MP3 music.
If you want your pictures and slideshows to make the biggest impression, go large. It’s hard to ignore the vibrancy and brightness of images emitted by an oversized digital photo frame. Most frames can be hung on a wall as an alternative to occupying space on a tabletop. (Hooks are not included.) As with most of the medium-sized frames above, all of the larger frames come with remotes for running the show from across the room.
The Aluratek 12" Digital Photo Frame sports a glossy black bezel and tabletop stand. The latter lets you rotate the screen 90 degrees. The stand is removable so you can take advantage of wall-mount holes on the back panel for horizontal or vertical placement. Beyond pictures, there’s a built-in clock and calendar. You could also use the frame for digital signage. The built-in speakers play music with a slideshow (the default) and provide audio for video. The frame contains 512MB of memory, an SD card slot and USB port.
The Viewsonic VRM1536-11 Digital Picture Frame is a15-inch frame with an impressive resolution of 1024 x 768 pixels. The frame displays a 4:3 photograph under an anti-glare glass surface, filling a 12 x 9-inch viewing area. The LCD offers a wide viewing angle of 160o horizontal and 160o vertical. The VRM1536-11 contains an anemic 256MB of internal memory, but compatible memory cards include SD and Memory Stick. You can enjoy photos (JPEG, MJPEG), video (MPEG-1/4) and music (MP3) or you can use the frame as a clock, alarm and calendar. Rear holes are built in for optional mounting.
With a 19-inch diagonal, the Aluratek ADMPF119 Digital Photo Frame is the largest model in our group. Shouting 1440 x 900 pixels, it offers the highest resolution. The removable stand rotates 90 degrees for vertical orientation. The frame contains 2GB of memory and accepts an SD card or USB drive. The black frame with white matting has built-in speakers and mounting holes. In addition to presenting photos, music and videos, the frame can display a clock or calendar.
So, whether you want a travel-ready slideshow that tucks into a pocket or a stay-put display that commands a bookshelf, there’s a digital picture frame available to brighten your day.
|Screen Size||Resolution||Internal Memory||Built-in Battery||Built-in Speaker(s)||Remote Included|
|Aiptek Portable 3D Photo & Video Display||8"||800 x 600||100MB||Yes||Stereo||Yes|
|Coby DP180 Digital Photo Keychain||1.8"||160 x 128||1MB||Yes||None||No|
|Digital Foci Photo Book||8"||800 x 600||4GB||Yes||Mono||No|
|Impecca Digital Photo Album||7"||800 x 600||2GB||Yes||None||No|
|Impecca DPA 350 Touch Screen Digital Photo Album||3.5"||320 x 240||unspecified||Yes||None||No|
|Coby DP356 Digital Photo Album with Alarm Clock||3.5"||320 x 240||unspecified||No||Stereo||No|
|Sony Digital Photo Frame||7"||800 x 480||2GB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Sony Digital Photo Frame||8"||800 x 480||2GB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Sony Digital Photo Frame||10.1"||1024 x 600||2GB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Viewsonic Digital Media Album||8"||800 x 600||None||No||Mono||Yes|
|Viewsonic LCD Digital Frame||8"||800 x 600||4GB||No||Mono||No|
|Viewsonic VRM1536-11 Digital Picture Frame||15"||1024 x 768||256MB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Aluratek Digital Photo Frame||12"||800 x 600||512MB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Aluratek ADMPF119 Digital Photo Frame||19"||1440 x 900||2GB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Digital Foci Image Moments 8||8"||800 x 600||450MB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Pandigital Digital Photo Frame||10.4"||800 x 600||1GB||No||Stereo||Yes|
|Pandigital LED-Backlit Digital Photo Frame||15"||1024 X 768||2GB||No||Stereo||Yes|