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Focusing on Digital Picture Frames

Over my last few Web chats, several people have asked me for advice on digital picture frames, those small tabletop LCDs you can buy to show off your digital camera's output. I haven't done a comparison of these products lately, but here's what I can tell you from my earlier research and a quick survey of the selection at a couple of major retailers' Web sites:

* The three numbers to consider are size, resolution and contrast ratio. But while the first number is easy to assess, the second (expressed as a pair of pixel measurements, usually from 480 by 320 to 1024 by 768) can get complicated. 640 by 480-pixel resolution should look great on a 7-inch screen, but on a 10-inch display it will come up short. Also, some frames now feature wide-format screens--even though most cameras don't shoot in widescreen mode. The last figure, contrast ratio, may not be provided for you at all: Many off-brand frames did not include this measurement.

* A lot of frames feature WiFi wireless networking, but if you're still trying to get your home network to work reliably you can ignore that and instead consider a frame's internal storage and memory-card slots. Make sure the latter item can read the card format your camera uses.

* Digital-music playback has become a common bonus feature--presumably so that your slideshows can have a soundtrack, as I doubt that the speakers on these things will suffice for foreground music. Many frames also provide controls to edit photos, but I don't get this feature at all. If it's so difficult to edit pictures on your computer that you'd rather use a 7-inch LCD with only a handful of buttons on the back, you're using the wrong photo-album software.

What I can't tell you right now is which brands work reliably. But maybe you can: If you've purchased a digital picture frame earlier this year, how has it worked out?

By Rob Pegoraro  |  December 12, 2007; 10:23 AM ET
Categories:  Gadgets  
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