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i-mate Momento Photo Frame Review
by Ben Stafford -  5/2/2007

The i-mate Momento digital photo frame not only displays your digital images nicely, but it provides a nice wireless feature set, especially when used with the optional Momento Live service. The Momento is available in 7 inch and 10 inch models, both with the wireless features. You can currently get the 7 inch Momento for $199 and the 10 inch for $299.

i-mate Momento
(view large image)

Features

The most important feature, the screen, is a 7” LCD with a resolution of 800x480 pixels.  The screen is bright, showing vibrant colors and sharp details.  The viewing angle horizontally is very good, with a slight decrease in brightness as you move away from directly in front of the frame.  Vertical viewing angle is not as good, so as long as you place the frame at the height that most people will be viewing, it will look good. In my opinion, having the wider horizontal viewing angle is more important anyway.

To get your pictures onto the frame, you have several "standard" options.  There is a built-in card reader that can handle Secure Digital (SD), MMC, xD-Picture Card, SmartMedia, and Memory Stick media.  There is also a USB and mini-USB port to connect to your computer or other USB devices.

i-mate Momento
(view large image) Card reader

i-mate Momento
(view large image)

The Momento is also wireless (802.11b/g) enabled, so it’s easy to transfer images to the frame wirelessly by several methods.  If you want the frame to display images stored on your computer, all you have to do is set up Media Sharing via Windows Media Player.  The frame comes with a 3 month trial of the Momento Live service.  Once your frame is set up on your wireless network, you can register it with the Momento Live service.  Once activated, you can allow friends to send pictures via e-mail or MMS messages.  You can also upload pictures to your Momento Live account that will be “delivered” to your frame.  A Live account also allows you to subscribe to RSS feeds from Flickr, Google Picasa, Windows Live Spaces, and Yahoo News.

In addition to displaying your images, the frame can also play back WMA and MP3 files.  An audio out jack lets you plug in headphones if you like.

There are plenty of other features once you pull out the RF remote control and start navigating around the menu system.  By having an RF remote, you don’t actually have to point the remote directly at the screen (like an infrared remote), which is very nice.  The only downside surrounding the remote is that there is no built-in “holster” to keep the remote with the frame.  If you lose the remote, it’s pretty much impossible to change frame settings.  Anyway, there are things like a built-in clock and calendar display, you can orient the frame into landscape or portrait modes, you can customize the transitions and timing of the slideshow, and so on.

i-mate Momento
(view large image)


(view large image) Sample settings screen

The Momento frame is also set up to support Windows Sideshow.  With this, you can add Sideshow Gadgets that can send data to the Momento.  I just played around a bit with the default ones which can show you, on the frame, how many unread e-mails you have, what your next appointment is, and what song is playing in Windows Media player.  I suspect that as time goes one, there will be more Gadgets that can handle the Momento to get things like traffic data and weather displayed on the frame.

i-mate Momento
(view large image) Sideshow display of email items

Images can be viewed more or less any way you want to view them.  If your images are tagged, you can view images that have a particular tag.  You can view images by the date they were taken.  And, you can view images by rating as well.

The frames and mattes are available in many different colors so that you can customize to match your d├ęcor.

Impressions

Setting the frame up was straightforward.  A “Getting Started” manual is included in the box and it’s just detailed enough to get things going.  If you need more details, you can get a more detailed manual from the Momento web site.  I also logged in for my free trial of Momento Live and got the frame activated with the service which was a very easy process.

As I mentioned before, the remote is necessary to get a lot of the settings configured on the frame since there are no buttons (other than a power button) on the frame itself.  With the remote, it’s easy to navigate the menu system, type in wireless encryption keys, etc.

i-mate Momento
(view large image) Wireless network setup

The quality of the display was very good.  Colors were vibrant and details were good.  It was also bright enough to be visible from quite a distance in a well-lit office environment.

i-mate Momento
(view large image)

Getting around the Momento Live web site was also pretty straightforward.  You can add pictures to your library from any computer, you can invite friends to either email or MMS pictures to your frame, or you can set up RSS feeds that you want to have delivered to your frame.

Where to Buy

If you're looking to get a Momento for yourself, head to www.momentolive.com and click the Buy Now link on the top right of the site. They're keeping a list of retailers on that page and at the moment, you can purchase from Best Buy and Amazon.com.

Conclusion

Even if you don’t consider all the extra features, the i-mate Momento is a very nice photo frame.  However, the wireless features are what really set this frame apart from the competition.  The Momento executes the wireless features well, including support to stream images from your computer and from the Internet (not to mention more conventionally from a media card or from internal memory).  The ability for friends and family to send pictures to the frame, via email or MMS, is also very cool.  While not everyone will pay for the Momento Live service (yearly subscription fee), you can still get some utility out of the wireless features by sharing images from your computer.

Pros

Cons