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Of course the most important element is the display screen itself, so let’s take a look at it. The 8 inch aSi TFT active matrix screen is certainly up to the job, offering a respectable 800 x 480 resolution with an aspect ratio of 16:9. While this is lovely for watching videos and movies, not many photographers regularly shoot in widescreen format, so for the average user this means the unit will either crop the top and bottom to get the full width of a 4:3 aspect image on the screen (not advisable), or display the full image smaller, losing about a third of the screen area on either side. Nevertheless, the display is crisp and clean, with lovely colour definition. A lot of this is due to the use of Kodak’s Light Management Film which improves viewing angle and enhances colour and definition, while reducing moiré abnormalities. The side-to-side viewing angle is very good, but it has to be said that it loses some quality when viewed from above or below.
The unit has two main modes, in that it can be used as a viewer or as a music player. Pressing the music button will toggle this mode on or off. It offers a choice of sources, either internal memory or and inserted memory card, and you can choose to play a single track or play them all. It displays the current track title, its progress, and the title of the next track. The usual array of controls familiar to anyone with an MP3 player are available on both the remote and the control panel on the unit itself. Even though mp3 is pretty much standard theses days, it would have been nice to see support for other types of audio files, such as WMA.
As you would expect, the picture frame comes complete with a bundle of useful software, namely Kodak’s EasyShare package. This is an all-encompassing application for moving, manipulating and sorting your photo collection. The software also gives access to the Kodak Gallery website, extending its services to online sharing, storing, and printing via PictBridge. To be honest it’s unnecessary, both Windows XP and Vista will quite happily auto detect the unit via USB and add it, and all the card slots as new drives. This allows files to be moved effortlessly between the computer, the EX811’s internal memory and its card slots via drag n drop on your computer.
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