Digital photo frames review 2009

Digital photo album technology is still a little raw.
 
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  • Updated:9 Jan 2009
 

01 .Introduction

Digital-photo-frame

Eleven 10inch (20-22cm) digital photo frames priced from $198 to $499

See our latest review of digital photo frames.

When CHOICE first set out to test digital photo frames in January 2008, we discovered several flaws in the technology, including poor picture quality, confusing controls and inefficient energy consumption. Nearly two years later, there are improvements in picture quality but we’re still seeing many of the same flaws.

Our assessment panel looks at a series of digital photos that highlight brightness, contrast and colour depth. We found some models bleach a digital photo and some present a warm colour to the screen, but rarely do any give a realistic representation. The frames were scored on their:

  • Picture quality based on colour balance, contrast and skin tone
  • Ease of use of the remote control, onboard and on-screen controls
  • Standby energy consumption

Please note: this information was current as of January 2009 but is still a useful guide to today's market. For more recent information, see our Digital photo frame review 2010.


Brands and models tested

  • Agfaphoto AF 6105MS
  • Sony DPF-V1000
  • Digiframe DF-F10411c
  • Aiptek Da Vinci PAV
  • Kodak EasyShare M1020
  • Shintaro SHDPF104V3
  • JCMatthew DPF-BWP10
  • Kaiser Baas Snapshot KBA04023
  • Samsung SPF-105V
  • AV Labs AVL961B #
  • LèVision BOPF1000

# Discontinued but may still be available in some stores.

 
 

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What to buy

  • Agfaphoto AF 6105MS - $319
  • Sony DPF-V1000 - $499
  • Digiframe DF-F10411c - $359
  • Aiptek Da Vinci PAV - $379

Results tables

Performance
Brand / model (in rank order)
Overall score (%) Picture quality score (%) Ease of use score (%) Standby energy consumption score (%) Price ($)
Agfaphoto AF 6105MS
www.sagem.com.au
75
84
50
100
319
Sony DPF-V1000
www.sony.com.au
74
72
70
100
499
Digiframe DF-F10411c
www.digiframe.com.au
71
75
52
100
359
Aiptek Da Vinci PAV
1300 651 417
70
72
57
100
379
Kodak EasyShare M1020
www.kodak.com.au
67
78
35
100
329
Shintaro SHDPF104V3
www.shintaro.com.au
66
65
55
100
246
JCMatthew DPF-BWP10
www.jcmatthew.com
59
69
58
0
299
Kaiser Baas Snapshot KBA04023
www.lakopacific.com.au
58
53
55
100
230
Samsung SPF-105V
www.samsung.com/au
57
77
37
0
399
AV Labs AVL961B (A)
www.avlabs.net
55
62
60
0
250
 


Features

Specifications

Brand / model (in rank order)
Internal memory (MB) Remote control Wall mountable Cards accepted USB Speakers Aspect ratio Diagonal screen size (cm) Screen finish Dimensions (cm, H x W x D) Weight (kg) Resolution (pixels)
Agfaphoto AF 6105MS
www.sagem.com.au
256
CF /MMC / MS / SD / SDHC / XD
(B)
2
15:9
25.4
Gloss
24 x 33 x 2
1.1
800 x 480
Sony DPF-V1000
www.sony.com.au
1024
CF / MS / SD / SDHC
0
15:9
25.9
Gloss
21 x 30 x 4
1.3
1024 x 600
Digiframe DF-F10411c
www.digiframe.com.au
512
CF / MMC / MS / SD / XD
2
4:3
26.4
Matte
26 x 31 x 3
1.5
640 x 480
Aiptek Da Vinci PAV
1300 651 417
16
CF / MMC / MS / SD
(B)
1
13:9
25.9
Matte
23 x 31 x 3
1
800 x 480
Kodak EasyShare M1020
www.kodak.com.au
128
CF / MMC / MS / SD / XD
2
16:9
25.4
Matte
21 x 30 x 3
1
800 x 480
Shintaro SHDPF104V3
www.shintaro.com.au
256
CF / MMC / MS / SD / SDHC
2
4:3
26.4
Gloss
24 x 30 x 4
1.6
640 x 480
JCMatthew DPF-BWP10
www.jcmatthew.com
256
CF / MMC / MS / SD
2
16:9
25.4
Gloss
23 x 32 x 6
1.5
1024 x 600
Kaiser Baas Snapshot KBA04023
www.lakopacific.com.au
256
CF / MMC / MS / SD
2
4:3
26.4
Matte
25 x 30 x 4
1.4
640 x 480
Samsung SPF-105V
www.samsung.com/au
64
CF / MS / SD
2
15:9
25.4
Matte
20 x 29 x 4
1.3
1024 x 600
AV Labs AVL961B (A)
www.avlabs.net
CF / MMC / MS / SD / XD
2
4:3
26.4
Matte
27 x 32 x 5
1.5
640 x 480
 

Table Notes

(A) Discontinued but may still be available in some stores.
(B) Mini-USB socket only, but comes with adapter cable for USB key.

Using the table

Scores The overall score is made up of:

  • Picture uality: 60%
  • Ease of use: 30%
  • Standby energy consumption: 10%

How we test

Our assessment panel looks at a series of digital photos that highlight brightness, contrast and colour depth. We found some models bleach a digital photo and some present a warm colour to the screen, but rarely do any give a realistic representation. The frames were scored on their:

  • Picture quality based on colour balance, contrast and skin tone
  • Ease of use of the remote control, onboard and on-screen controls
  • Standby energy consumption

Profiles - what to buy

Agfaphoto AF 6105MS

Price $319

Good points

  • Programmable sleep mode.

Bad points

  • No regular USB port (but does have a USB adapter and mini-USB for computer connection).
  • Stand is not adjustable.
  • Poor onboard controls.
  • No power indicator.

Sony DPF-V1000

Price $499

Good points

  • Can output images to a TV.
  • Can be wall-mounted.
  • Programmable sleep mode.
  • Only frame in this test to have a power indicator.
  • Only onboard controls in this test to receive a good rating.
  • Only on-screen interface in this test to receive a good rating.

Bad points

  • Stand is not adjustable.
  • No music or video playback (photos only).
  • Most expensive frame on test.

Digiframe DF-F10411c

Price $359

Good points

  • Can output video to a TV.
  • Can be wall-mounted.
  • Programmable sleep mode.
  • Remote control rated well.

Bad points

  • No power indicator.
  • Poor onboard controls.

Aiptek Da Vinci PAV

Price $379

Good points

  • Two-year warranty.
  • Remote control rated well.

Bad points

  • No regular USB port (but does have a USB adapter and mini-USB for computer connection).
  • No power indicator.

 

Profiles - the rest

Kodak EasyShare M1020

Price: $329

Good points

  • Can be wall-mounted.
  • Programmable sleep mode.

Bad points

  • No power indicator.
  • Poor onboard controls.

Shintaro SHDPF104V3

Price: $246

Good points

  • Can be wall-mounted.
  • Programmable sleep mode.

Bad points

  • Stand is not adjustable.
  • No power indicator.
  • Poor onboard controls.

JCMatthew DPF-BWP10

Price: $299

Good points

  • Can be wall-mounted.
  • Programmable sleep mode.

Bad points

  • No power indicator.
  • Poor onboard controls.
  • Scored 0% for standby consumption.

Kaiser Baas Snapshot KBA04023

Price: $230

Good points

  • Can be wall-mounted.

Bad points

  • No power indicator.
  • Poor onboard controls.
  • Images look too warm (yellow).

Samsung SPF-105V

Price: $399

Good points

  • Two-year warranty.
  • Has Wi-Fi functionality.

Bad points

  • No power indicator.
  • Poor onboard controls.
  • Scored 0% for standby consumption.

AV Labs AVL961B (A)

Price: $250

Good points

  • Can be wall-mounted.

Bad points

  • Manual contains the warning: “Only use for a maximum of 8 hours.”
  • Stand is not adjustable.
  • No power indicator.
  • Scored 0% for standby consumption.
  • Images look too warm (yellow) and have compression artefacts.

LèVision BOPF1000

Price: $198

Good points

  • Can be wall-mounted.
  • Least expensive frame on test.

Bad points

  • No power indicator.
  • Images look flat and dark with noticeable "jaggies" (unsmooth edges).

# Discontinued but may still be available in some stores.

  • On-screen menu systems should be logical and easy to read and the buttons to control it should work reliably. All of the models can move backward and forward, plus show a sideshow through the menu.
  • Remote controls for these products tend to be small, but they still need to be functional.
  • Check that the frame can connect to your photo-storage device. All can connect to a computer via a USB port to download files.
  • Check the manufacturer’s warranty to see if they’re covered for dead pixels. One pixel is unlikely to be a problem, but if you can see a cluster of them, take the frame back to the retailer and ask for a new one.
  • An internal memory means you don’t have to leave your flash memory card or USB stick in the frame when displaying images. All except the AV Labs and LeVision have at least 16MB.
  • Take a flash card or USB stick loaded with some images you’re familiar with when choosing a frame. This way you can get an idea of which model produces an image you’re happy with.
  • Don’t expect great sound quality.
  • Expect a reduction of image quality as you move up and down, or side to side, however all suffer the most when viewed from below.
  • Check the stability of the frame and how strong the stand is. All the frames on test have a stand that is either removable or fixed.
  • Space can be taken up at the rear of the frame by the stand, so check the dimensions in the shop. However, all frames on test can have their stand either tucked in or removed from the frame entirely.
  • A Glossy screen claims to give a clearer picture, however you may not like its reflective quality and glare in bright light such as sunlight.
  • A Matte screen diffuses the light so reflections are not so obvious. However, some people don’t prefer matte because it doesn’t seem as bright. Take a look at the reflective quality of the screen in store when looking to purchase to see which you prefer.

How they work

You don't seem to have the Flash player installed. To get it go here. All of the digital frames in the test can display your photos in a still or slideshow manner. Some play music and even movies, just like a miniature computer monitor, though don’t expect much of a visual or audio experience. All but the AV Labs can be positioned to landscape or portrait and the photos can be rotated manually, but they won’t automatically recognise and rotate photos to match the frame’s position.

Electronic photo frames can be hung on the wall or supported by an adjustable stand, but you may want to position them away from the edge of your desk or table, as a fall can be fatal to the screen. Only the Agfaphoto, Aiptek and Samsung cannot be wall mounted. The frames are mains powered so they have to be positioned near a power point.

All the frames accept a variety of flash memory types, such as MMC and SD, to access your images. All have a USB connection so photos can be displayed directly from a USB key or transferred to internal memory from your PC, though two require the supplied USB cable to do so. Of the tested models, only the AV Labs and LèVision don’t have an internal memory to download and store your images. All models except the Kodak and Samsung come with a small remote control, allowing the user to control picture rotation, zoom in, run a slideshow, change the aspect ratio and access the on-screen menu.

05.Review: AV Labs Portable Photo Gallery

 

Capacity: 4GB
Price: $400
Contact: www.audion-mm.com

When CHOICE tested digital photo frames, the AVL994 was in the process of being released. Unlike other digital photo frames, which always need to be anchored to a power outlet, the AVL994 has a lithium battery, lasting just over three hours, so you can take it with you to a meeting or family BBQ. But how does it differ in picture quality and ease of use? And is the price tag worth it?

We ran the AVL994 through our picture assessment panel, which was satisfied with its detail, contrast and colour accuracy. Compared with the other photo frames it’s around middle of the range. Navigating through the menu system is awkward and slow, although many of the photo frames on test were as well.

It lacks a remote control, which could be useful when using it with the supplied stand. It also lacks a standard USB slot, relying on an adapter cable to connect a USB key or PC. Other digital photo frames also require an adapter cable, but it seems short-sighted to require one for a portable product. It claims to work with a PC, but we couldn't get this feature to work. It has three memory card options: SD, MMC and MS.

You’ll need to convert all your photos into the correct resolution before transferring them to the AVL994, an extra step most of the digital photo frames also require. Its large 4GB internal memory is four times the largest of the photo frames in our test, which is a major advantage, however you’re still ultimately left with a one-trick pony.

CHOICE Verdict

In an age where many portable devices have more than one function, the AVL994 is sorely lacking in versatility. It may be useful if you only need a portable photo viewer, but for a comparable price you can buy a netbook of the same size, which can do so much more and has a similar, if not better, battery life.