November 19, 2007
| by Rachel Cericola
When holiday shopping gets down to the wire, it becomes more difficult to pull a Yuletide rabbit out of a hat. Instead of wandering aimlessly around the mall staring at flashing lights and empty shelves, head straight to your local electronics retailer and beg them for a digital photo frame that can store and display digital photos.
Yes, folks, we’ve found the perfect holiday gift. Hand it to a loved one empty, and it’s a place for that person to show off his shutterbug skills. Fill it with family memories, and you’ve suddenly surpassed your siblings to become Mom’s favorite. It says, “I care,” “I’m sentimental,” and “I know how to decipher the specs of a digital photo frame.”
Choosing a photo frame is easy. But throw the word “digital” into the mix, and you’ve got yourself a project. Start by choosing a size. While the size of a printed photo typically dictates the size of the frame you’d choose, a digital frame can adapt to any image—so it’s mainly about how much actual space you’d like your images to occupy. Frames come in all shapes and sizes, from keychain units on up.
Next, look at the unit’s resolution. Just like with TVs, resolution will determine the quality of the image being projected. As you enlarge a picture, the image quality will decrease because the pixels are spreading. The higher the number, the better, especially if you have a larger screen.
Also, there are two ratios to remember: aspect and contrast. Aspect ratio determines the shape of an image and whether it’s cropped for display. Most still cameras have an aspect ratio of 4:3; some boast the high-def 16:9 format. If you decide to go for the gusto, make sure the photo frame has the resolution to support it. Otherwise, you could end up with chopping, cropping and in the end showing off a super-small image. Contrast ratio, on the other hand, measures the difference in brightness between the lightest and the darkest images on screen. Again, just like your TV, the higher the numbers, the better the image will appear.
Next, think about the types of files you plan to store or show off in the frame. Many frames can handle formats such as JPEG, TIFF, GIF, BMP and others. They may also support video and audio files, including MPEG, AVI, MP3 and more. If you plan to add audio or video, make sure your frame can handle the formats you’re accustomed to.
Over the past 15 years, Rachel Cericola has covered entertainment, web and technology trends. Check her out at www.rachelcericola.com.