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WiFi Digital Picture Frame Review E-mail
Written by Peter   
WiFi Digital Picture Frames
WiFi Picture Frames
 

I wanted a digital picture frame.

After seeing them in stores I was always put off by the high price and hassle-factor of loading new images all the time. After all, what’s the point of having such a dynamic piece of technology in your living room if it can’t be updated frequently enough to keep you interested?


When frame prices dipped below the $100 mark, my interest was renewed however the issue of updating still plagued me. I thought “why hasn’t anybody integrated WiFi into a picture frame?” and promptly searched Google only to find out that they indeed had, and there were actually several manufacturers with such frames. Excited I began to ponder the possibilities: Updating the frame directly from iPhoto, potentially having new photos pulled from my computer automatically - no, wait...pulled from the internet automatically! Many of my friends post pictures up on sharing sites and social networks like Facebook, why not have those go to the frame as well?

With my new set of requirements I set off to find the perfect frame.

 

 

 

WiFi Photo Frame Review

High in the Google rankings was a frame from eStarling which seemed to have it all…except the ability to order the frame from Canada. I eventually found a way to trick Amazon into letting me order it, however the difficulty caused me to pause long enough that I began to explore other options as well.  I’m glad I did, as the eStarling appears to have some imperfections such as occasionally freezing which would require a reboot, more on that later.

Kodak, Samsung, Sony, all the big brands seemed to have their own interpretation of what a WiFi enabled frame should accomplish. That’s not to say they are the only ones with refined offerings - many smaller companies including SmartParts, iGala and eStarling have frames with their own pros and cons.

I should mention that I list FrameChannel integration as a positive below due to its solid integration with many popular photo sources, however it should be noted that FrameChannel stays in business by displaying ads on your frame in between your photos. This can put some people off, however it seems to be one of the only ways to get photos from Facebook into the frame, as all Facebook RSS options have been squashed. For those who are really upset about the FrameChannel ads, here’s a hint: The advertising appears to be geo-targeted, so when you sign up for the service, be “creative” with your country selection. Another note about FrameChannel is that it publishes an RSS feed that can be used with Windows FrameIt or any direct RSS consumption method (ie. Samsung interface).

 

Kodak W820 Kodak W820

Photo frame price

Pros: Uses FrameChannel. ‘Proper’ resolution (800x600) for viewing your photos without black borders.

Cons: Ongoing subscription fee for Kodak online service – Not many people are willing to pay several hundred dollars for a frame, and then pay more each month for something that many other frames offer for free.

Summary: This web-enabled frame is targeted towards those uncomfortable with web-technologies (see the paradox?) and as such Kodak felt the need to make their service simple but charge a recurring fee for doing so. In my opinion, if you’re shopping for a web-enabled frame to begin with, you have some idea what web-content you want to display with the frame and therefore don’t need Kodak to hold your hand through the process. For the increasingly common situation of purchasing a frame for someone else (parents commonly) with the thought of updating the pictures remotely, both parties are much better off to create a Flickr or Picasa account and buy the Samsung, Sony or iGala.




Samsung SPF-85V
Samsung SPF-85V

Photo frame price

Pros: Allows direct entry of RSS feeds via its web interface. Web interface is OS agnostic and should work well on Mac, Linux and Windows. ‘Proper’ resolution (800x600)

Cons: Higher end of price scale. Difficult to find in stock. Can't be hung on wall.

Summary: A serious contender, all the fundamentals of a web-enabled frame are present. Frame design will be up to the individual to judge, leaning towards more modern than traditional.

 

 



eStarling Impact 8
eStarling Impact 8

Photo frame price
Pros: 'Proper' resolution (800x600).  Retreives photos via RSS (through eStarling service).  Relatively inexpensive.

Cons: Frame can't be hung on wall.  Existing users complain of frame freezing, lockups and connection issues.  Difficulty ordering frame outside of United States.  Sister product Impact V claims video playback but company support confirms videos can't be played automatically in slideshow.

Summary: A frame with surface appeal which shows cracks in its functionality once you dig a little deeper.

 

 




D-Link DSM-210
D-Link DSM-210

Photo frame price

Pros: Solid network capabilities.

Cons: Glossy plastic frame looks cheap. Frame is on higher end of price scale. D-Link logo is always visible, preventing frame from ‘blending-in’. Widescreen resolution will create black borders on most photos.

Summary: While the software team gets high-marks for this project, the hardware team gets a slap on the wrist. Ease of usability and connectivity are offset by widescreen display and poor case design.

 

 



Sony VGF-CP1
Sony VGF-CP1

Photo frame price

Pros: Quality of frame and display is excellent. Sleek, modern look. Good overall usability.

Cons: On the very high end of price scale.

Summary: With high marks from most reviews the Sony is a decent choice if money is no concern.

 

 

 

 



SmartParts SPX8WF
SmartParts SPX8WF

Photo frame price

Pros: Beautiful wood frame with matting fits in well with other non-digital photo frames. Inexpensive frame with WiFi abilities. ‘Proper’ resolution (800x600).

Cons: WiFi abilities were an afterthought, with zero ability to use the frame exclusively with Internet content. No ability to loop Windows Live slideshow plus a maximum number of photos through RSS results in a maximum internet slideshow time of under 2 hours, after which the frame goes back to the main screen or internal photos.

Summary: Without the ability to loop through internet content this frame isn’t much more useful than its non-Wifi counterpart. Unless you plan on using your frame in an ‘on-demand’ setting (in which case, why wouldn’t you use a computer?) another Wifi frame would likely better suit your needs.





iGala WiFi Linux-based Frame
iGala IWP808

Photo frame price

Pros: Touchscreen (no entering your wireless details with a tiny remote). Will stream RSS photo feeds via Windows FrameIt and perform updates on a periodic schedule while looping through slideshow. ‘Proper’ resolution (800x600). Frequent firmware updates by vendor offer new and improved functionality. Can mix multiple picture sources (in memory, Flickr, Gmail and FrameIt content) into one big slideshow or select an individual source.

Cons: Some difficulty connecting to non-mainstream routers (ie. Airlink) – Subsequent purchase of $30 Belkin Wifi router connected without issue. On the higher end of price scale.

Summary: A frame that answers the question “what do geeks really want?” Impressive hardware and solid vendor support for firmware updates make this the most promising frame for applications beyond displaying pictures (Live data streams and home automation controls come to mind). Average non-geeks will find the frame acceptable to use, and the “do everything on the frame itself” approach (as opposed to installing software on your computer) will appeal to those with Macs or who use online photo-sharing accounts already.



Blending In

Here are a couple shots of the SmartParts and iGala frames blending in among some non-digital photo frames:

SmartParts frame blending in...

Above: SmartParts SPX8WF in bottom left corner.

 

iGala frame blending in...

Above: iGala frame in bottom left corner.

 

Recommendation:  In terms of features, vendor support and ease-of-use, you can't beat the iGala IWP808.  It truly is a "Set it and forget it" photo frame and with regular updates from all your social networks streaming to the frame, it never gets boring to look at.

 


 Have comments on one of the above frames?  A question about one of the frames?  Share your comments and questions below!

 

 

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Ted  - d-link   |April-12 06:03:04
I bought the d-link for my parents so we could display photos of our little girl
(their grand-daughter) on the frame remotely and while it works ok every once in
a while they have to unplug and replug it to get new pictures. We're thinking
of getting the same setup for the wife's parents but I think we might go with
the iGala or Samsung. Thoughts on which is better for this sort of thing?
Peter   |May-03 03:08:07
Some of it is going to come down to style, they each have their pros and cons -
I like the iGala because it can be hung on a wall and the developers are
constantly releasing new features which can be downloaded making it more
functional all the time. That said, the situation you're describing sounds like
you want more of a 'set it and forget it' type frame, so honestly either will
probably do just fine.

One thing that is nice about the iGala is due to the
touchscreen they can easily scroll through the pictures using the arrows if they
want, whereas the Samsung is "another remote to learn."
Peter  - Wired ethernet   |June-01 22:21:26
A question was emailed to me asking if any of these frames had a wired ethernet
jack since the location they wanted the frame to be didn't have Wifi. The
answer is that the D-Link DSM-210 above has a 10/100 Mbps wired ethernet port on
the frame as well (not a huge surprise that the networking company makes the
frame with the most networking options) so it can be connected to wired or
wireless ethernet to pull updates and photos!
Michelle  - Apple user   |December-08 02:58:33
Do any or all of the frames work with MACs? Especially the iPhoto
feature.
Thanks in advance for any feedback you can give me.
Peter   |December-08 04:04:50
Since the frames grab their photos from websites like Flickr, Picasa and
Framechannel, as long as your Mac can access those sites the remote features
will work just fine.

As far as storing pictures on the frame itself (kind of
defeats the point of a WiFi frame in my opinion) each frame has it's own pros
and cons. I use a MacBook myself and while the smartparts frame required me to
use Windows (via Parallels) to load photos, I had no issues with the iGala,
since it can copy off of any USB key.

Regarding iPhoto, the feature that
allows you to one-click upload your photos to Flickr is actually built in to
iPhoto 09, so it's pretty quick and painless.
Michelle  - Sony   |December-08 23:11:31
Thanks for the reply Peter.
So as a fellow MacBook user, do you feel the Sony
frame would be a good choice?
Thanks again, you are more helpful than the Sony
rep I spoke with. :-)
Peter   |December-09 03:30:45
The Sony frame uses Windows based software to stream the photos directly from
the computer, so you'd need parallels to make that work. There are reports of
people using the Playstation 3 Media server for mac to stream iPhoto to the
frame, but I suspect that's a bit more tweaking than you're looking for.

The
simplest solution with the Sony would be to use the Picasa support and export
your photos from iPhoto using the Picasa export function (File menu -> Export ->
Picasa Web Albums).

Personally, I love the iGala since it does exactly what I
want (streaming web photos with no fuss) and it does it with extreme stability
(no reboots/hangs/freezes in over 9 months) and the touchscreen means I'm not
using a remote and then trying to find a place to hide it when I'm done. That
said, if you like the Sony, go for it, it should work fine with your MacBook
using Picasa.
Jake  - Live digital picture frame   |December-24 04:15:22
I moved to Brazil and got my parents a wifi frame. I have even got it to take
pictures from a webcam and put them on their frame. That way they can have a
live view of the sunset.
Paul Allen  - W820 Flickr Integration   |January-09 02:50:48
Having trouble getting more than 5 photos from Friends & Family showing up on
Grandma's Flickr. Any thoughts? If Grandma has to add to her Flickr account
direct, kind of defeats the purpose.
Elaine  - Flickr tags don't seem to work   |December-15 12:11:21
I have the Toshiba digital frame. I set it up tonight and was browsing the web
to figure out why I only had 1 flickr picture showing.

After spending 30-60
mins clicking around, I finally found out that one picture on my Flickr account
was tagged. None of the others were. I removed the tag and all of a sudden, all
my pictures came up on framechannel. Before that, I only had the option to
choose the 1 picture with the tag.

Not sure if that's the answer but anyone
else out there having trouble can give it a shot.

Now I just have to figure
out how to get the pictures I emailed to my framechannel account to show. I
checked the settings to make sure I activated it - but can't see the emailed
pictures anywhere on my framechannel account.
charles   |December-20 02:19:43
I am trying to get my Dad 91 yrs old and in assisted living center an 15" or
bigger wi-fi digital photo frame for Christmas but don't know anything about
them. We only need wi-fi to send him photos as he doesn't need any other
features, only pictures on his wall.
Lance  - Founder   |February-25 01:59:35
Great article! I'm creating a service similar to FrameChannel so I'm wondering
what the ultimate frame content provider would do for a customer. Your input is
greatly appreciated.
Tom   |January-31 05:14:13
Got a Kodak Pulse frame with Wi-Fi and like it very much. Want to get my
daughter something similar (10") but with video and mp3 capabilities. Can't
find anything! Lots are discontinued and some require subscription fees which I
don't want. What to do, and where to go to find such animals?

3.23 Copyright (C) 2007 Alain Georgette / Copyright (C) 2006 Frantisek Hliva. All rights reserved."