I tend to take a lot of pictures when I'm out and about, mainly of scenery shots, which all seem to sit on my computer doing nothing, although what I expect them to do I don't know, maybe come to life and take me back to where I took the picture in the first place.
Anyway, I like to look through the pictures every know and then, sometimes finding one or two of the better ones and printing them out. But this takes up my ink from the printer, money when I have to buy a frame to put the picture in and time printing the picture out.
So to combat this over the passed few years I have made a bit of a collection of something called digital photoframes, and I have amassed quite a few of them up to now.
Recently I got my hands on another one, this new one being from a well known company called Kodak, with the frame being called the Easyshare VS710.
This digital picture frame looks quite like a picture frame, being a glossy black oblong a bit like a normal frame, with a lovely bright screen for the images to show up on, like the pictures you have in a normal frame.
The entire frame itself is about 250mm wide by 190mm high by 40mm thick, weighing in at a mere 600grams. It has a 7 inch full colour TFT screen which displays images with some brilliant clarity, this is supposed to be down to what Kodak is calling their 'Light Management Film', and the ratio is 16:9 with 480 x 234 pixels.
It comes with a power cord, installation disc, remote control and a rough guide to getting started.
But before you get started you have to make sure your PC's running certain specs, such as Windows XP or higher, or MAC 10.3 or higher, with a 600MHz CPU, 128MB RAM, 200MB HHD space, a CD/DVD drive and at least one USB port so that you can hook them up together.
It is not only capable of showing JPEG and EXIF images but can also show MPEG, MOV and AVI movie formats too and with it's MP3 playing option you can listen to music whilst your favourite shots slideshow by.
Unfortunately it doesn't have any internal memory but it is capable of allowing several different memory cards to get you images showing on the screen that this lack of internal memory isn't really a problem.
The memory cards you can use in this are SD, MMC, MS, xD, CF, MD which more or less covers the majority that fit into most cameras and computers these days.
The frame itself has several little buttons and slots all around it so that using it is easy and without any real fiddling around.
On the left side, behind the screens edging, as you look at the screen, the is the memory card slot and the on/off switch.
Along the top, again hidden behind the screens edging, there are the control buttons which allow you to control the images you want to show, such as play, pause, stop, rewind, fast forward, up, down and the menu button, plus there's the music on/off option here too.
On the back there are a few holes drilled into the plastic casing. Don't panic, they're meant to be there. Two of the holes are for the remote control holder whilst the other two holes are for if you want to hang the frame off the wall using a screw. But you don't just have to hang the frame you can stand it on a table or a shelf using the little stand that is cleverly embedded into the plastic body.
And there's two speakers which are neatly hidden inside the unit itself for when you want to listen to your MP3 tunes whilst the slideshow travels along.
Both stand and wall hanging holes allow this frame to be position either vertically or horizontally, portrait or landscape.
Plus, if all goes wrong and you want to start again, there's a reset button which you will need something thin and pointy to actually push, so there's no danger of accidental erasure is there.
On the right side, again hidden behind the frame, there are more slots, such as
Headphone socket and the mains power socket.
It also comes with a lovely little remote control which can be cleverly housed in the little holder that slots onto the rear of the frame, so that there's very little chance of actually losing the remote, although I emphasise the words 'very little', as even the most cautious of people can mislay something sometimes.
The remote itself has all the controls on it you need to set the frame exactly how you want it, all pretty well labelled as well so there's no real confusion in how to use it.
I won't go into all the running details about the remote as it could lead to boredom and may not be to everyone's taste. But suffice to say that it didn't take me too long to get the hang of how it all worked, in fact I found it a lot easier, and more comfortable, to set up the frame using the remote instead of using the controls on the frame.
In fact, once your SD card is inserted you don't have go near the frame again as you can do everything using the remote control.
Getting it going was so easy, being a simple matter of plugging it into the mains, installing an SD card, pressing the menu button and flicking through the choices, such as my chosen language and whether I wanted to view the images in portrait or landscape mode?
Your pictures/videos will show up in the order that they are on the memory card so if you want them to be in a certain order it is easier to sort out the memory card on your PC before inserting into the frame.
But apart from just slapping in a memory card you can plug this up to your PC and transfer images/videos that way, but as there is absolutely no internal memory you can't store any images or videos onto the frame so you will either have to have an SD card inserted or have your PC plugged into it. I tend to go with the first option as the SD card is a lot smaller and hides well around the side.
To show images from your PC on the frame is so easy to do, using the supplied USB cable, you just connect it to your PC, wait for it to set itself up, with the frame showing up as a removable disk on your PC. Then it is a matter of using the old fashioned 'copy/paste', or even 'send to' method, to get the images to the removable disk storage.
And it is similar system in showing images using the SD card method, simply slot the card in place, wait for the frame to find it, then, using the easy to understand options on the screen, start showing off your slideshow.
Although remember, the images/videos do show in the same way as they are set up on the card or on you PC, you can't use the frame to change this so sort your card out if you want to.
There are a few viewing options you can choose from, you can either just view a single picture, create a slideshow of a few pictures or a myriad of pictures, and have them on a continuous loop at your chosen speed. Or you can even have a video or two playing instead of simple pictures. The choice is yours. You can even have a slideshow showing whilst your favourite track is playing in the background.
This is great for when you have scenic shots on the frame and some relaxing music coming out of the speakers...maybe birds gently tweeting in the trees, whales singing to each other in the oceans... you get the point.
All this is controlled using the menu button, together with the curser keys and the play button, either on the frame or using the remote, but it all makes sense when you start playing about with it.
It's just so easy to set up, but as I always say, the more you do something the better you get at it.
The screen itself is not too bad really with the images showing up pretty well, nice and clear, although this does depend on the actual picture on the card to some degree really, but the ones I have on my card show up at about the same quality on this picture frame, so I have nothing to grumble about there then.
You can even use the 8X magnification option to make your images bigger, getting a closer look at the subject being shown, although this option is not so good for those people with a spotty complexion.
When I first spotted it from a distance I liked the looks of it, but when I actually began setting it up I realised that it does look a little bit 'cheap' with the shiny looking black plastic surround feeling a little flimsy in my hand. So I decided that for it to have a better effect it would sit high on a shelf so that it would look better as people would see it from a little distance.
That was that initial dilemma sorted out and it was time to set it running, which as I have said, was almost as easy as plugging it in, in fact hiding the wire from the plug socket to the shelf the frame sat on was harder to do.
Although I did notice that when I firsts started to use this frame I found that on the initial insertion of my memory card, due to the fact that there was quite a bit of data on it, it did take a few minutes for the frame to initially pick through it all, but once it had found the lot I was away.
As for the actual way the slideshow goes about its business, well, this could be better as on a few occasions the images have either frozen for a few minutes or have slid across so slowly that at one point I though they were on a coffee break.
This has only happened a few times mind you but I get the impression that it will keep happening as time goes on, regardless of what cards are inserted into it.
I had read about the low resolution that this one has and I have to agree with what I have read, but to a certain extent. If you are to close to the frame then the images can look a little 'blurry', or more like a bad reception from a digital television, but if you take a step back then the image becomes a lot more clearer, which is what you want. And to be honest how many times are do you stand right up to one of your photographs that are hanging on your front room walls?
As I said the frame itself is not the prettiest of frames and is in fact a little bit plain, but as it's the images that you're after looking at rather than the frame itself I can forgive that a little bit.
You do have to have it with in easy reach of a mains lead as it has no internal power source so needs a constant electricity supply to keep working, basically it has to be plugged in all the time otherwise you can't view the pictures.
And it does not have an internal battery so it has to be plugged in at all times to be working, which is a shame really.
So what about the cost then..?
This is selling for around the £40 - £50 region but before you even think about buying it you will have to get your hands on some form of memory card as it doesn't come with either internal memory or a free SD card.
But for the price, and as long as you have a good memory card, then this is certainly a digital picture frame that is worth investing in, giving you the chance to show off your massive collection of family photo's all in one space.
I was very lucky to be given one of these because the person had just been given as a gift a larger one!
I was so pleased as I'd been wanting one for a while, they are great, some people forget to switch them on but this one can be put on timer so it just comes on in the evening while we're are sitting there - fab idea!! Only snag is if it's unplugged or have a power cut it loose's the settings!
The screen is 150 x 85mm it's a fairly small one and it is a bit of a strange size because it's wider than most pictures. In my experience it's best to use only landscape images as portrait become too small.
It has a slot for SD, MS, XD or MMD cards, I've only heard of SD and that's what we've got in ours. I've just noticed it has a larger slot for CF or MD cards - not heard of them either. It has an ear phone socket although why you'd want to sit there with ear phone's in connected to it I'm not sure! It has mains adaptor and looks to me like it has a USB port as well.
On the actual frame it has a menu so you can manually move photo's on or play/pause etc. It comes with a remote control which is easier in a way as you can sit in front and control it.
So how to use it:
Like I say we have an SD 4gig card in it and this is plenty. We firstly connect that to the computer, I then have a folder on the computer where I put all the photo's I'd like to add to it, then I go into a photo editor and crop them to landscape and to the size that matches the frame proportions.
Then upload the photo's to the SD card on your computer.
Take the SD card out of the computer and place into the photo frame and press play - there they are!
You can set the speed the photo's change or put on random, the only thing we found with random was we kept seeing the same photo go round only a few minutes later and others never at all, we find that leaving it just playing we catch different pictures on different days.
I like to add fun one's as well as memorable one's! Old one's and new one's it also provides talking points for visitors as well as they'll see something that will make them laugh or somewhere they like the look of!
It is fairly small compared to some of the larger ones out there at the moment, but we haven't got a large lounge so it doesn't look out of place if it were to be placed further away I think it would be too small for some.
I think they're a great buy and although we were given this I've looked them up and they're about £7 to £35 on ebay! grab a bargain if it's at the lower end - wouldn't be worth £35 compared to some of the newer ones out there at this price.