With LCD prices dropping over the years, the feasibility of purchasing a digital photo frame has become more realistic. This model from Westinghouse Digital can be purchased for $150. As one of the most reasonable purchase prices that I’ve seen, I was curious to see how it performed.
The main feature of the frame is the 5.6″ inch LCD. While not gargantuan, it has a 4:3 aspect ratio and a resolution of 320 x 234 with a 150:1 contrast ratio. It remains viewable at angles of 45 degrees and has and 18 ms response time. There is also a brightness adjustment dial to let you customize the brightness for your display location
To match with any decor, the frame comes with 3 interchangeable frame “covers”. They interchange easily with a simple latching system. You can choose from mahogany, a glossy black (very bad for fingerprints), and a “brushed aluminum” frame.
The frame has 8 MB of internal memory so you can transfer images to the frame instead of leaving your memory card in the slots. The frame can read from CompactFlash Type I/II, Secure Digital, MultiMediaCard, Memory Stick and xD-Picture Card. Please note, before you insert or remove a memory card, turn off the frame.
You can also transfer images to the frame using a USB 1.1 cable that can be purchased separately.
For display options, you can either hang the frame on the wall, or you can set the frame on a flat surface since there is a flip out stand in the back.
You can choose to show your pictures (from either internal memory or a memory card) one at a time, or in a slideshow where you can set the delay.
There is a menu button on the back (along with buttons to scroll through pictures/menu options, and a “play” button). Here are the menu options:
- Thumbnail Mode – you can view several images from memory at once and scroll through them
- Card Select – lets you choose which memory card (or internal memory) to read from
- Rotate – allows you to rotate the image that is currently displaying
- Image Info – displays file size and other information on the screen
- Slide Show – toggle between normal display and slideshow
- Slide Show Delay – set a fast, normal, or slow delay
- Slide Transition Type – see the image below for all the choices
- File Manager — lets you copy files from an external memory card to internal memory and delete files from internal memory
- Language – change the language of menus
The frame can display JPEG images or AVI movie files.
The frame is powered with an included AC adapter that plugs in to the side of the back of the device.
The LCD is bright enough for rooms with bright lighting, but not as sharp as I would like. It’s hard to determine what is actually acceptable, however, since different users are going to be viewing this frame from different distances, depending on where the frame is displayed. Images are slightly darker (even at the highest brightness level) than when you view them on a PC so bright images will work the best on this device.
I did experience some quirkiness when viewing images from an SD card. After some experimentation, it seemed that the weirdness was caused by the large images (8 megapixel) that I had on the external memory card. Once I resized (down to 640 x 480), things ran much better. The processing involved to downsize my images may have been too much. My recommendation is to copy images to the internal memory for display and so you can fit as many as possible into memory, resize down to a smaller image size, like 640 x 480 or smaller (since the LCD displays 320 x 234 images). Also, I found that cycling the power cleared up any issues that I experienced.
It was nice being able to set up a slide show or a single image to display. However, one minor annoyance is that you can only transfer one image at a time from an external memory card. This may not be an issue for most people, but something to keep in mind as you look around at other photo frames. Also, I couldn’t find a way to tell how much space I had left in internal memory until I just couldn’t copy any more images.
At $150, the Westinghouse Digital 5.6″ Photo Frame is a good option for someone looking for an affordable digital frame that can accept many different media types. The interchangeable face plates allow it to fit in just about any decor and still look like a nice photo frame (with a cord coming out of it). It does make a great desk accessory for those times when you just don’t feel like working and just need to zone out a bit while viewing pictures from your last vacation.
– Reasonable price
– Accepts many memory card formats
– Interchangeable face plates
– Only 8 MB internal memory, so you’ll want to take the steps to resize your images
– Some software quirkiness if you don’t resize your images
– LCD isn’t very impressive (low pixel count so some pixelation is seen at close range)