Digital Photo Frames - The Whole Picture


Need to relive multiple moments at once? Westinghouse’s DPF-1411 features MosaicView, which can display several photos simultaneously.

Deemed this year's perfect holiday gift, digital frames come in a variety of shapes, sizes and feature sets. Here's some advice if they're on your shopping list.

Nov. 19, 2007 — by .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address)

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.

Most digital frames have internal memory. The number of photos that each frame holds not only depends on how much memory there is but also on the size of your image files. If you plan to swap out photos often or don’t want to downsize images, consider adding a memory card. Most photo frames allow you to plug in a card straight from your camera, allowing for additional storage or slideshow options.

Almost every frame also allows you to connect the unit to a computer via a USB port. Some frames even offer wireless options, which allow you to send images to a web site even via Wi-Fi. That means you can send photos from any web-enabled area in the house straight to a slideshow in another room.

How you control the frame is important as well. After all, if it’s too difficult to load and set up a slideshow, does it really matter how cool it looks? Most frames should load easily and be able to show thumbnails, scroll through images, or allow you to set up slideshows at various speeds.

Finally, think about where you plan to use the frame. Some can be wall mounted to blend into your living room decor, or you can get something to perk up the office. Aside from shapes and sizes, digital photo frames also come in various colors. Some even have interchangeable frames that snap into place, so you can change the color as often as you change your mood.

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