Round the back you’ll find a multi-format card reader, which supports xD, SD, MMC, MemoryStick, and SmartMedia, but not Compact Flash (the favoured memory format for professionals and enthusiasts). Sockets for full size and mini USB also enable you to attach USB storage devices to view images and, as the audio output jack hints at, playback mp3s. However, bizarrely you can’t connect the i-mate to a computer using USB. If you plug it in you’ll just be greeted by a message asking you to unplug it.
There are no actual controls on the frame and all the i-mate’s functions are controlled by a neat little RF remote control. It has four directional buttons, which control both menu and picture navigation, and half a dozen other buttons that perform functions like opening the menu, selecting menu items, showing tooltips, pausing the slideshow, and displaying photo information. The remote is quite intuitive to use and the range is impressive – certainly far enough that you’ll lose sight of the pictures long before you lose control of them. However, even though the frame has a holder on the back, it doesn’t charge the remote while it’s being stored and, given the remote uses not-easily-found-round-the-house button cell batteries, this could prove quite inconvenient. Furthermore, given the i-mate’s lack of controls on the frame, if the remote battery does die and you don’t have a spare to hand, the frame is unusable. The icing on this already half-baked cake, though is that the menus are decidedly sluggish, and the unit will sometimes crash, so navigation and setup takes an age. I wouldn’t go so far as to say it’s a chore but neither is it a slick seamless experience.
One of the greatest pleasures of digital photos frames is that you can pick them up and sit down with your mates to show them your holiday snaps. This is why we like to see at least some form of battery power, because it’s a pain to have to trail the power cord across the room to your sofa. Unfortunately, Momento has forsaken this pleasure and the i-mate’s lack of a battery means it’s firmly tethered to its plug socket. This does explain why there are no controls on the frame itself (what’s the point if you can’t move it?) but that still doesn’t really excuse the omission.
The i-mate had some trouble connecting to our 128-bit WPA encrypted Wi-Fi but WEP encrypted and unencrypted worked without any problems. Once connected the device will pick up any Windows Media Player shared libraries and it’s a simple case of selecting the one you want to view. However, you can’t just view standard Windows shared folders, which is a great annoyance if you don’t use Windows Media Player to organise your photos.
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