Mar. 5th, 2010

tugrik: (Default)
So digital photo frames are, what, a decade old now? More, less? Who knows. They've been out for as long as companies could make a buck selling a sub-standard TFT display for grand'ma-ma to put on her countertop to show those new fangly 'digital fo-tos' her grandkids would send. For the most part I've found them all pretty lackluster and have successfully avoided buying any.

There were a few specifics I wanted all in the same device that I've been waiting to have come together:

  • Network connectivity
  • No pay-subscription required
  • Ability to remotely insert pics (email, client, etc) without requiring a local computer hookup or memory stick
  • Decent color quality, viewing angle and resolution
  • Low cost

My goal was always to buy one for my mom (and possibly other family members). I wanted something that she could set up without any great fuss and then us kids could just send it pictures whenever we wanted. That way there'd be new pictures on her living room table all the time.

It was always a "pick 4 of 5" problem. If it had all the features I wanted it was crazy-expensive. If it was affordable, it was crap. And if it was both affordable and looked good, it had a deal breaker in there like requiring a desktop computer or a pay-every-month account to use. I got so jaded about them that I simply stopped looking after a while. I'm not exactly sure what brought the Kodak Pulse 7" frame to my attention, but I'm glad some form of marketing did.

After reading the specs and reviews I ordered one for myself to give it a test-out. While not super-cheap, it's cheap enough: just over $100. The screen is of good quality: bright, decent resolution (800x600) and surprisingly good color. The off-axis is good left-to-right so it works fine as a desktop frame (not much tilt/up-down which isn't as nice). Most importantly, though, it comes with a free service from Kodak that lets you email it pictures.

The frame joins up via WiFi and registers with Kodak's service. From there it can get pics direct from the web-client, auto-download them from Facebook, or (the feature I like the best) has a direct email address. Email a photo and it appears; perfect for kids to send snapshots to their parents. It'll also link to the Kodak gallery if you use it, but that's not a big thing for me. Hopefully an API for it will open up to allow other custom sources.

Physically it's very nice: a gloss black frame with no obvious markings or buttons. There's a power button and a troubleshooting button on the back, out of sight. The primary interface is touch-screen. For you cube-dwellers who want one for the office it also has a handy Kensington lock port on the back. Huzza for deskchains. It weighs very little and the power supply is your standard wall-wart, though the cable for it is nicely slim.


Having set it up a few times now, I can say that it's definitely grandma-safe (and thus mom-safe too): 3 very easy steps with good hand-holding built into the interface. Join it to the WiFi, let it update itself with the latest firmware, and then it spits out a 'registration number'. Go to, create a free account and put in that number. The website is very mom-friendly too; Kodak is good at interfaces. Now you pick your email address, (optionally) link it to Facebook and/or Kodak Gallery and you're done. From that point on the frame just runs.

You can pick automatic on/off times so it'll not run all night and keep you awake with the light, or you can just use the power button on the back. You can choose how long each pic displays, how it displays (single, fade, collage and ken-burns effect), trash pictures or manually skip between them. Since people can email/facebook pictures to it, you can choose to view by friend or 'recent' if you don't just want it to run random pics. It holds about 4000 pics at any one time, depending on image complexity.

Lastly it has generic memory slots on the side - USB, memory stick, SD, etc. Put one in and you can copy the pics to the frame's memory (or just leave it in to use that as the memory instead). You can also use the web-client to directly upload pics to it.

If you're looking for a gift for the non-super-techie picture-lover in your family, I highly recommend this. A new one has been ordered for my mom; she'll get it Monday or Tuesday. I'm keeping this one on my desk at work I like it so much.

For the curious, I bought mine from for about $108 on sale. I think it's back up to over $120 now though.


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