Philips 7″ LCD Digital Photo Display
This is one of those products that people often don’t “get” until they experience one first hand, and yet the requirement for something like this is fairly obvious when you look at current trends in photography.
Many people have made the move to digital photography, yet still think in terms of film once a photo has been taken. So people still print out their best images and store them in albums (actually, a good idea, as this gives you a hard copy backup of your most prized images) and yet, that doesn’t really make any use of the fact that the medium is digital. Photo albums are often put away and only viewed very occasionally.
Why not “get” digital, and share with friends and family by publishing on Flickr; and instead of just putting one print into a photo frame at home, why not fit hundreds so you can change them according to your mood, or have them constantly changing as a slideshow.
The Philips Photo Display is a high resolution LCD display, approximately the size of a 6×4 photo print. The display is 720×480 pixels, giving a dotpitch of less than 0.2mm – much finer than even the best LCD monitors generally available – and the end result is really stunning. It looks as good as any printed photograph and is easily bright enough to be viewed indoors in daylight.
The display is intended to run from mains power (an adapter is supplied), but is also capable of running for an hour or so on its own internal battery, It has around 12MB of memory for storing photos internally (more than 50 images) but it also has a built in card reader. This can be used to transfer photos from memory cards to the display, or to display images directly from the memory card.
USB connectivity allows you to connect other devices to the display – external card readers, thumbdrives or digital cameras – or to manage the display from a PC. Note that a PC is not required to use this display – you could just use a digital camera with this display without involving a PC at any stage. Images (which can be up to 12MB) are automatically resized as they are transferred to the display.
The display has its own operating system, and its own unique user interface. A row of buttons along the top edge on the back of the display correspond with icons displayed on the top edge of the screen when the display is in an interactive mode, as when changing settings, for example. This is reasonably intuitive to use, although the icons and navigation take a little getting used to (I’ve found some other Philips products to be let down by their menu systems). The display has a lot of settings – brightness, orientation, slideshow transition effects, language, and time. If you set the time correctly, the display will be able to switch itself on and off at times you select, and can also run at a different brightness setting between 6pm and 6am if desired.
Several display modes are available – slideshow mode allows you to sequentially or randomly display images at intervals from <5 seconds to one day. Browse mode allows you to select a photo to display, and to manually move forward and back through the collection. A thumbnail mode allows you to manage the image collection – you can add images from external media, or rotate or delete internal photos in this mode. I would think that slideshow mode will be most commonly used.
The display ships with a brief introductory manual, a full manual on CDROM, a power adapter, a clip on stand, and two USB cables.
Other photo displays:
There are other photo frames available, some are larger, most have lower resolution, and most are more expensive. A large sampling of what is available in the US can be seen at: http://www.amazon.com/gp/search/103-5326680-3007853?search-alias=electronics-aps&keywords=digital%20picture%20frame
Thinkgeek has a small range of displays listed, including an 8″ display capable of playing mp3s and video: http://www.thinkgeek.com/electronics/cameras/7e13/
Ceiva was one of the first developers of photoframes, but require a phone line to retrieve images from a central server:
One of the most interesting ones I’ve found is the eStarling, which has WiFi built in. This can display images from a memory card, but can also retrieve images from its own dedicated email account or from a specified RSS feed. This gives you the option of sending new photos to your display by email, or automatically adding photos whenever you upload photos to Flickr, as your Flickr account has RSS feeds out:
The good points:
- stunningly good display
- easy to use – no PC required
- built in card reader
- good USB connectivity
- unobtrusive and contemporary design
- reasonably priced compared to other photoframes.
The bad points:
- expensive for what it does
- won’t read 😄 cards, requiring external card reader
- lacks date or calendar functions
- cannot customise display settings to day of the week
- prominent Philips logo on front of display is upended if the display is used in portrait orientation
- navigating through large image collections can be slow.
A very impressive device. While there are photo displays available overseas, this is one of the few currently readily available in NZ. In addition, this unit is priced well below some of the other devices available, and has much higher resolution. It has good connectivity to USB devices and the built in card reader is very useful. While other connectivity would be nice (for example, bluetooth or wifi) the display would be considerably more expensive if these were included. The price seems quite expensive for what you get, but it has dropped since the display was first available in NZ, and I’m sure it will drop further.
Since the display has a clock built in, I think Philips missed an opportunity to include simple calendar functions in the device (so it could be set to not display on weekends, for example), but also so it could display time and date as an overlay on the image if desired. I’m sure that would increase the appeal of the display to some. Since the display runs its own operating system, perhaps Philips will be able to include new functionality in future firmware updates.
These displays make fantastic presents – I’ve bought two of these units as presents in the past few months, and they’ve been very well received. While people are usually sceptical when you describe the photoframe to them, people who see the real thing are invariably impressed, in some cases not realising they aren’t looking at a printed photograph.
Expensive, but very highly recommended.
Available from Flashcards, usually arrives within 24 hours of ordering:
Note that Flashcards also have the best value memory card prices in NZ.
Copyright rjh 2006. Written March 5 2006.