- Review Price: £107.00
We’ve always found the idea of digital photo frames to be an appealing one. Having an attractive and easy to use device solely dedicated to viewing your photos is definitely something we like the sound of. However, none of us in the TrustedReviews office actually own one, largely because we all store and view our photos on our PCs instead of bothering to resize and possibly rotate them, before copying them to a photo frame. However, with its WiFi connection and online photo store, the Kodak EasyShare W1020 has the potential to finally persuade us to pony up.
For a start, the W1020 is attractive. Sure, the frame isn’t gilded or made from a fine wood but the white glossy plastic is understated and neat, and the whole frame is nice and thin. A number of stick-on coloured surrounds are also provided for adding a touch of colour to proceedings, if you so wish. We were more inclined to steer clear of these and stick with the white, though.
The back is home to slots for CompactFlash and SD/SDHC/MMC, Memory Stick and xD-Picture cards, although Memory Stick Pro and Pro Duo cards will require an adaptor, which is not supplied. There are also USB and USB Mini connectors, and the frame can read from USB flash drives and other USB mass storage devices.
The stand can be rotated to support the frame in landscape or portrait and it tucks away for hanging the frame on a wall; a task which is made possible by the inclusion of screw mounts on the back (though screws and fittings are not supplied for this).
Unfortunately, the W1020 has no way of detecting which way is up, so doesn’t rotate images automatically, which can be a bit of a pain. At least the bottom edge of the frame (when in landscape mode) and the edge of the stand are rubberised to stop the frame slipping about and scratching the surface it’s sitting on. All in all, the W1010 feels well thought out and the build quality is good, or at least as good as it can be considering its entire external structure is plastic.
The 10in LCD has a resolution of 800 x 480 pixels, which is par for the course for a frame of this type. However, typical though it is, this is still below what we would prefer to see. Even 10in netbook screens have a resolution of 1,024 x 600 and ideally we’d like to see some that can rival the Sony TT’s with its 1,366 x 768 pixels crammed into an 11.1in screen. Compared to looking at a normal photo print, the level of detail you’ll be able to see on this frame is woefully inadequate. That said, if you want fine detail you’d probably go and get your best pics printed properly and use these sorts of frames for casually browsing through the majority of your snaps.
As well being able to view photos, the W1020 can playback video, though format support is limited to just MOV, AVI, MPEG1 and MPEG4 so the majority of downloaded videos won’t work. However, native movie clips shot with your digital cameras should all work.
Two speakers on the back provide audio so you could certainly use this as a casual home movie viewer. Moreover, with mp3 audio file support and a line-out socket, you could even hook this up to a sound system and use it as a basic mp3 player. Sadly, without a remote, this functionality will only ever be of minimal use.
Turn the W1020 on and you immediately see at least some of its more standout features. Two strips of lights, running along the bottom and right edges, indicate a set of touch-sensitive areas that can be used to control the W1020’s menus. A light tap will bring up the menu and from here it’s a simple task to choose which feature you’d like to look at or which setting you’d like to change. The menus respond reasonably quickly and are very intuitive and there are neat little features such as lists that can be scrolled through by swiping your finger across the bottom; a motion that can also be used to flick from one photo to the next when in slideshow mode. The touch controls aren’t perfect with the latter slideshow flick proving very temperamental but with a bit of patience it’s simple to do what you need to.
The W1020’s other big trick is its WiFi connection and all the Internet services that come along with it. The former can be used to copy pictures from your computer to the frame’s impressive 512MB of internal memory (enough for about 4,000 images) and can then be used to log into the frame and configure it using a normal web browser.
Internet services include being able to connect to your Flickr, Webshots, Facebook, Picasa, Photobucket, or MSN photo sharing services. There are also news, weather, and sports channels and you can add RSS feeds of your favourite websites. There’s a fair amount of signing up and logging in to a variety of different auxiliary services to get everything working but once set up it’s easy to switch between viewing your favourite Facebook pics to quickly checking the weather before you head out.
In truth, the news and sports feeds, in particular, are of little use as each story is presented on a separate page yet consists of little more than a headline. Couple that with the fact it takes a few seconds to load each page and things can quickly become tiresome when just trying to catch up with half a dozen stories. Still, if you don’t have a PC, notebook, or phone to hand, the W1020 does at least provide a way of accessing an impressive level of functionality.
Of course, all these extras would be pointless if the W1020 couldn’t provide half decent picture quality so it’s good to see that Kodak hasn’t totally let itself down on this front. As mentioned before, detail isn’t incredible, but images are bright with vivid yet reasonably natural colours, black levels are good and backlight bleed is minimal. Viewing angles are also decent with images remaining visible with minimal colour shift when looking at the frame from the left, right, or top (when the frame is in landscape). However, looking up at the bottom you basically can’t see anything. Now, this may not seem like too much of a problem at first but if you turn the frame to portrait, the bottom now becomes the left, leaving you with severely diminished image quality when looking from any position left of the frame.
It’s for this reason, along with the resolution issues, that we’re still not convinced that forking out £107 for one of these frames is entirely good value. Not until the resolution improves and the screen technology moves to something that isn’t affected by viewing angles (i.e. OLED, or colour e-ink) will we consider it. That said, if you are in the market for one of these frames, this is among the best we’ve seen. It’s full to the brim with useful features, looks elegant, is well made and has reasonable image quality.
Kodak’s EasyShare W1020 is as feature-packed a digital photo frame as we’ve seen and, although some features may not prove to be overly useful, we can’t help but be impressed by this. Add in a comparatively fair price and you have a frame that’s definitely worth considering.
Score in detail
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