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The importance of Wi-Fi for digital picture frames

Recently I made a post on one of the internet blogs about some no brand digital picture frame. Later on I found out, that those funky things boast DPF acronym like many things in our daily life these days… SMS, MMS, MMC, VOD, MP3, LCD etc etc. Unfortunately it seems that quite a few products released these days always lack the “final link” to make it perfect. A few examples relate to mobile technology: Nokia’s flagship model – N95…gorgeous device but lacks two things in my opinion; #1 Multi band 3G and #2 – the design…let’s face it it’s slightly on a cheap side.
Another example (again…in mobile area) would be recent Samsung’s N95 killer device.. GORGEOUS design, STURDY like a tank from what I see yet crippled by only three GSM bands and a single 3G band. WHY OH WHY I ask.

So, this brings me to the state of digital photo frames. After I wrote my posting on the (un)mentioned blog (I believe it was www.engadget.com) I received an e-mail from Hannes asking If I’d be interested in sharing my opinion about digital photo frames.. SURE. I can whore myself out a bit on the net J Since I’m just an average Joe in real and virtual life I’d a nice way to say “I’m interested in hearing what you have to say” so thanks Hannes for giving me the opportunity to voice my opinion.

Back on track…The comment I made was about the lack of WiFi on the photo frame which was discussed in the posting. I think DPF’s are a cool gadget to have but with the current implementation (at least in my household) it would quickly become a 5-minute gadget. The technology made me lazy. DPF’s that require from me to connect them to the computer or preload media on a memory card are just that…a 5 minute gadgets. They will be fun for a day or two, then you’d become less inclined to pull the card out, take it to your computer, fiddle around and figure out which photos to upload and then watch the same photos over and over and over for a week, two, three…then you’d just become TOO lazy to deal with it and the device you had so much fun with for 5 minutes would just collect the dust.

Enter the world of (some sort) of online connectivity…be it Bluetooth, or WiFi. Imagine now you won’t have to get up to yank the photos from your pc to the frame. Instead it would be nice to be able to link it to an online service (flickr for example) and stream all those photos you took with your camera phone or better yet be surprised with photos streamed from your favourites.

Hannes made a point by saying that not everyone has the need for WiFi enabled frames. I countered his comment and said that it’s out of pure convenience. I do not expect those frames to become movie or music download portals but simply a devices that can connect to online albums for pure convenience. In my opinion a frame without online connectivity is like photo albums where before you show it to your friends you take it to another room in your house, place 10-15 photos inside and show it to your friend. After they see 10-15 photos, you take it back, remove the old photos, put the new ones in and show the album again…obviously a pain in the neck process. Now imagine the same album but with 1000 pages…less running, less changing of the photos and more enjoinment from the actual fun of viewing the photos.

WiFi technology became so cheap these days that I don’t think person who decides to buy a DPF would skimp $10-15 extra to enable WiFi connectivity. So where are these super connected frames??? Only a handful exists on the market. We are being flooded by a low quality frames with even lower resolution displays. For many manufacturers instead of releasing 7inch frame with blue, red, yellow or what else color bezel and 6.5 and 7 inch displays WHY not releasing ONE but GOOD or at least decent device; 7inch 800x480 display, WiFi, and 256 MB of internal memory (with possible for expansion IF needed via memory card). Internal memory would be only for buffering purposes or if you’d want to give the frame as a gift to Grandma.

So the SAD state if DPF’s is just that…sad. Are we going to see some innovation from the manufacturers of those gizmos? I hope so. Until then I will be staying away from devices that lack online connectivity since for me it does not make a sense to waste money on a “half alive” device just like I would not buy an MP3 player without a display, or a cellular phone with three bands instead of four, or pc with bottom line cpu….you get the point.

This article was written by Maciek on 28 October 2007. He his the publisher of the blog www.symbiosis60.com.


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