* Prices may differ from that shown
With the advent and now dominance of digital photography the numbers of printed photos that people have has declined dramatically. People are happy to keep their digital photos on hard disc phones ect. It seems that printing a hard copy has become too much of a hassle for many people. However people still like to decorate their homes with photographic memories of photographic art and so a means of displaying digital photos has become more in demand. So a few years ago the digital photo frame was devised, with the most obvious advantage that you could create a slide show of all your favourite photos within a single stand alone frame.
To be honest when it came to digital frames I wasn't convinced especially when they first came out and commonly retailed at £50 + for even the smallest display. It was only recently when I saw the ELONEX DP9000 7" digital photo frame at a special offer price of a very competitive £14.99 compared to others on the market that I thought it might be worth a try. Elonex were a fairly big player in the early days of home PC equipment although they are not so visible in the market any more but they were always considered to be a mid priced but decent quality manufacturer.
WHAT'S IN THE BOX/APPEARANCE
Apart from the frame there is very little else in the package; a power cord a very thin but useful manual and a warranty card.
The frame looks like a mini PC monitor. It is all in black with a 7" TFT LCD screen surrounded by a 2cm thick black opaque plastic frame with a 16:9 widescreen aspect. The frame itself is very light around 300 grams and was only about 2.5cm thick, so quite compact but despite its lightness it seems of a good build quality. It requires a power cord to operate and one initial problem I found with it was that the supplied cord was relatively short and if you wanted to display your frame on a high shelf not that near a socket you'd have problems.
The frame has a neat pull out table stand that can be used to display in the portrait or landscape orientation. The screen displays at a 480 x 270 resolution and is backlit which means you don't need any external source of light to see the photos.
On the back of the frame there is a control panel with a number of features.
The use for these is mostly self explanatory.
On the side of the frame there are some slots, one for the power cord and then two others fro a standard USB stick and another for SD memory card.
HOW TO USE IT
To get started you need to insert a memory card or a USB memory stick holding your photos in standard JPG format and plug in the power source. When you access the menu you can change all aspects of your photo frame from different style of the slideshow display to the colour balance of the pictures. You can also play with the brightness and contrast although usually the camera set settings are the optimal ones.
The menu is 'context sensitive so depending on which option you choose the buttons take on different uses and the options that are not available are greyed out. This sounds a little complicated when you read it but with just a few minutes fiddling you get used to all the different choices and the use of the menu. Some of the choices on offer include splitting the screen to show more than one picture at a time in a slide show or on a static setting. You can change the way the photos change from one to another with an extensive array of 'fade' choices. You can also change the time set in between changing the photos. In addition to the slide show options the pictures can be viewed in different orientations on the screen at 90, 180 or 270 degrees and you can zoom into a photo to highlight some detail.
A further useful option allows you to store the currently displayed picture on the frame's own memory, it doesn't give you any indication on the manual or screen how much memory but I've managed to save around 10 photos but I suppose this could vary on the quality of the images.
Another interesting option was to display your photos as part of a calendar format although this depends on you setting the correct time and date to start with on the frame when you start using it. The calendar mode as a split screen with the calendar on the right and you chosen slide show on the left along with the time being shown.
There is also an auto time feature on the frame that means you can set the frame to automatically switch on or switch off at a set time.
The quality of the images on display depends on the quality of the images you have taken and what camera you have used. The frames best resolution is 480 x 234 pixels which is lower than most good digital cameras will give you so the frame is not ideal for displaying high quality photos with all the crystal clear detail. This is apparent when you get closer to the frame and on zooming the images do pixilate fairly quickly. However for most uses and viewed from a reasonable distance the display is at a good enough quality. One less satisfactory aspect though is the angle of viewing. Depending on where you position the frame and what angle you view it the picture does lose brightness and clarity, again this is more of a problem when viewed close up.
A FEW GRUMBLES...
On first operating the frame I found the menu selection with the buttons set on the back of the unit a little fiddly to use, I've also had problems with the menu option freezing and on a few occasion crashing, which require a 'system re-boot' by switching off the power and taking the memory stick out before I could get it to work again.
Another minor grumble was the difficult I had in taking the protective film off the screen when I first got it, it had no tag to grab onto and it was very fiddly to actually peel away without potentially scratching the screen. Keeping it clean and smudge free is also a little annoying but this is the case with most modern media equipment these days that seem to be made to attract dust and retain fingerprints and smudges.
I also found the manual that came with it to be factually incorrect when it stated that photos couldn't be stored on the frame's internal memory! This is not the case.
This compact digital photo frame is a cheap and convenient way to show off your photos. The quality of the images was a little (only a little) disappointing, this disappointed would have been much greater if I'd spent £40 or £50 on the frame but for the very reasonable £14.99 I paid this was not a huge problem. In fact for the price and considering the features included in this frame it was a good buy, the calendar feature alone would make it decent purchase. So overall while I'm still not sold on the idea of digital frames I think I can't really complain with what I got for my money.
© Mauri 2012
**Elonex 7" Digital Photo Frame**
*Why I needed a Digital Photo Frame*
To celebrate the tenth anniversary of the day my wife and I met we decided to mark the occasion and book ourselves in for set of professional photographs to be taken. Our last encounter with a professional photographer was back in 2002 on our wedding day and we thought it would be nice to see how much we had changed over the years. The session was a fun and light-hearted experience and when we returned back to the studio a week later we were thrilled when we saw the pictures that had been taken. Selecting our favourites from the large number of photographs proved to be tricky and in the end we spent far more than we bargained for but included in the package we eventually chose was a disc containing all of the photographs taken on the day plus a letter confirming we owned the copyright to reproduce the images.
There were a number of photographs we loved and decided on a few to print off and display in traditional wooden frames around our home but the remainder would have ended up just sitting on the disc and saved onto our computer if we hadn't have thought about buying a Digital Photo Frame. This relatively new piece of technology was something I was aware of and I had seen one at a friend's house but didn't really know that much about them, theirs had a large number of pictures loaded onto it which scrolled through image after image after only a few seconds and I was impressed. Determined to figure out how one worked and in two minds whether to buy one for myself I checked on Amazon and Play.com at the prices they were on offer for and noticed the subject of this review, the Elonex 7" Digital Photo Frame reduced in price from £59.99 to just £17.99. Reading the overwhelmingly positive reviews on the website persuaded me to spend just under £18.00 and take the plunge into the world of digital photo frames. So what did I think?
Elonex as a brand name is a new one to me and normally for a technology item I would tend to stick to names I know and trust, it was the price of this frame which attracted me in all honesty but looking at other places the same frame retails for over £35.00 so the price I paid seemed to be somewhat of a bargain. The frame itself comes packaged in a robust cardboard box complete with mains lead and short instruction booklet but in all honesty it is extremely easy to figure out how to operate.
The frame is piano-black in colour and has a glossy finish to it. Its appearance is stylish and in keeping with the current trend of sleek and contemporary looking items similar to LCD TVs and computer monitors and would not look out of place in even the most modern of homes. It weighs very little at only 300 grams and at its thinnest point measures just 25mm. A stick-like stand is included which slots into a hole at the back of the frame itself and a removable clear film protects the screen during transit. As far as the build quality goes the frame is extremely well made, it is very light but doesn't feel flimsy and once the jack connecter is inserted into the back of the frame and then plugged into the mains it sits firmly in place on its stand and unsurprisingly looks like any other picture frame you might own.
I thought it was going to be difficult in getting photos onto the frame but in reality it was simply a case of transferring the images from my computer and storing them on a USB memory stick and then inserting the stick into the USB port on the reverse of the frame itself. The frame can accommodate images stored on SD/MMC and MC memory cards from a digital camera as well as USB memory sticks of any memory capacity and recognises the hardware instantaneously. There are 4 round buttons on the back of the frame which allows you to turn the frame on and off and also gives you access to various onscreen menus should you want to rotate any of the images from Landscape to Portrait or adjust the contrast or brightness of your images.
The screen itself has a visible 7" display which has a 16:9 widescreen aspect; it is backlit meaning your images are visible without the need of any other illumination and displays images at a 480 x 270 resolution. The default slideshow settings scroll through the images slowly with a refresh time of around 2-3 seconds but can be adjusted to suit your own preference, I personally have ours on its default setting as I find that to the ideal amount of time for an image to be displayed and I also like how the next image appears either by what looks like a turning page or a slow fade in/fade out.
There is a built in memory which can store up to 10 pictures should you not want to permanently leave your memory card/USB stick inserted into the frame but I find it just as easy to leave mine in place. I know that I can easily remove the stick and add new photographs if I want to and then put it back, you can't see the memory stick from the side of the frame so it does cause any unnecessary distractions so I just leave mine where it is.
The most important aspect of owning a Digital photo frame is in how it displays your photographs and this is perhaps the only area where the Elonex has a few minor faults. On a shelf from a distance our photographs look stunning, they are perfectly lit and crystal clear to the eye, however if I pick up the frame and view the images close up then there are noticeable pixilation's, a slight blurriness and visible horizontal lines running from top to bottom. This is more apparent on the scenic photographs I took with my digital camera whilst on holidays abroad rather than the closer-up professional images taken at our photo session so it could be that the photographs I took were perhaps not as highly defined anyway. The majority of people though do use standard digital cameras rather than having a portfolio of professionally produced images so this is definitely a point worth considering if you were contemplating buying this particular digital photo frame.
This is just a minor grumble though as far as I am concerned as it's not as if I pick up the photo frame to look at the pictures on a regular basis anyway and from a small distance the blurriness is not apparent. We have our photo frame sat on our TV stand as it has to be positioned close to a plug socket and it is lovely to have the images scrolling when the television is switched off. Photographs hold memories for everyone and always make a good talking point and rather than being stuck with just one image permanently on display we now have literally hundreds available to see each one holding a story of its own.
There are few disadvantages owning a digital photo frame as far as I can see, the fact that they are mains run may be off-putting for some but I can't imagine that they cost that much to run in all honesty. The refreshing images can catch your attention but isn't that the point? And whilst you may have to rotate some of your images to ensure they are displayed correctly once you have done this once they are stored ready for next time they come around. Specifically the Elonex frame allows you to display your photographs however you want, you can change the brightness and contrast of each and every image if you so desire and can set the frame to scroll through the images at the speed of your choosing. Similar to televisions of the same construction the glossy outer frame is prone to displaying fingerprints but these are easily removed with a cloth and the screen can attract dust but again is simple to clean. The supplied mains wire is quite generous at just under a metre in length and is quite a thin cable so shouldn't be too obstructive and easily stored behind the frame should it be too long.
All things considered especially for the price I paid I still rate this to be a terrific purchase which has revolutionised the way in which we can display our photographs. Technology has progressed at an extraordinary rate over the past few years with advancements and improvements to many everyday items and in the case of how photographs are displayed then a Digital Photo Frame in my opinion is undoubtedly a remarkable step forward. For little under £18.00 you get a well made, lightweight photo frame which should fit perfectly into any environment you place it in, it needs to be situated near a plug socket so do bear that in mind but for a brand name I had never heard of before I am very impressed with this piece of technology from Elonex.
*Conclusion and Rating*
This is still available from play.com for the price I paid (£17.99) and in comparison to other Digital Frames on the market is undeniably priced competitively. Some may find the slight image distortion when viewed up close to be a concern and could well put them off buying this however for a frame of this price point I am prepared to overlook this one and only flaw. As far as my rating goes I am deducting a star for the reasons already stated but would still award an excellent 4 star rating along with a personal recommendation from me. Definitely one to take a chance on should it sound like something which would appeal to you, thanks for reading my review.
*Summary of features at a glance:*
* 7 inch TFT LCD screen
* LED Backlight
* 16 : 9 Widescreen
* hiiBright LCD Screen
* Native Pixels 480 x 270
* Contrast Ratio 500:1
* JPEG picture & Photo Viewer
* Auto Power On/Off function
* Built in memory for around 10 photos
* Digital Photo Frame
* View JPEG Photo or Picture Files
* View as a slideshow
* Rotate, Zoom, Transition, Duration
* Change Brightness / Contrast / Colour
Please note that this review also appears on ciao under my username