- Review Price: £143.00
Photography has well and truly made the transition to digital where the taking of pictures is concerned. But when it comes to displaying them, things are lagging behind slightly. For those of you who still need to make the jump to digitally displaying all your snaps around your home, join us as we take a look at Samsung’s 10in SPF-105P Digital Photo Frame.
This sleek little frame arrives in two parts: the frame and its leg, which join together using a unusual ball-and-socket joint. Assembly is simple, though pushing the ‘ball’ in does require some force. Once set up, this gives the leg a nice amount of flexibility, though this frame is obviously not designed to be used in an upright position.
Surrounding the 10in display is the frame, which is finished in Samsung’s traditional piano-black and enhanced by a subtle whorl pattern, with a narrow dark-silver inner trim separating it from the screen. Though you generally don’t want too narrow a bezel on a photo frame, you do want it not to look too bulky either and the SPF-105P obliges by being less than a centimetre deep at its edges.
Build quality is good without being outstanding. One thing to keep in mind is that Samsung has gone for looks over practicality in not providing any rubber feet on the frame, meaning it can easily get scratched. It retains excellent grip, though, thanks to the rubberized tip of its leg.
Behind the attractive bezel you’ll find the usual range of connectivity. This includes a headphone jack on the right, USB and mini-USB ports on the left and two memory-card slots: one that takes SD and Memory Stick on the left, as well as one for Compact Flash on the bottom.
There’s also a pair of stereo speakers integrated unobtrusively to either side. They’re acceptable for a bit of casual background music (which you can program the SPF-105P to play during a slideshow) and they’ll also do an okay job for home video and such, but for anything more demanding you’ll want to use the provided headphone socket with a headset or some speakers.
As far as controlling the frame’s functionality goes, Samsung’s Starlight Touch Control system works beautifully. When you touch the right side of the frame, the controls light up in white. From top to bottom we have icons for Menu, directional arrows, Enter, Back and Slideshow. The icons are instantly recognisable and spaced well apart so that you never press the wrong one accidentally.
The touch recognition is very responsive and allows for multiple rapid taps, with icons flashing once to indicate a press. Though turned off by default, you can also activate audio cues for button presses, which are a bit more subtle and varied than the usual annoying efforts.
Menus are also logical and very easy to use, as well as being aesthetically attractive. Functions are basic but include almost everything you could reasonably want from a photo frame, including a clock, calendar and alarm. Though it does support MP3 music playback with a very attractive player including spectrum analyser, unlike some photo frames such as the Kodak EasyShare W1020, the SPF-105P doesn’t support any kind of video playback.
There’s also no sign of a remote as seen with the Jessops LCD Picture Frame we looked at a while back, so despite the nice interface the SPF-105P’s use as an MP3-player is limited. It also means you have to be sitting close to the frame to pause slideshows or change albums.
However, Samsung does bring some high-end features to the table. A built-in rechargeable battery of unspecified capacity powers the frame wirelessly for around 55 minutes at a perfectly usable 50 per cent brightness. This makes the lack of a remote less of an issue and allows you to pick the frame up or take it to your guests sitting on the couch – you know…the things you would be able to do with a good old non-digital photo.
Another ace up the SPF-105P’s sleeve is that it can be used as a PC monitor using USB DisplayLink, rather like the secondary display of Samsung’s own SyncMaster 2263DX we looked at a while back. After installing the supplied FrameManager software and plugging in the frame, you’re given the choice between activating it as Mass Storage or as what Samsung refers to as a Mini-Monitor – you can switch between either at any time.
Because it receives its video signal over USB the SPF-105P will work with almost any PC, notebook or netbook. As a secondary display, we found it very useful for displaying things like IM conversations, status indicators, toolbars and widgets, though others may find it a superfluous addition.
Samsung has given its SPF-105P 1GB of built-in storage, which is fairly generous considering most photo frames still carry less than half that, or, in the case of the Texet DPF-807, none at all. Our only complaint with this memory is that it seems to be quite slow: transferring just a few pictures may take minutes. Alternatively you can also hook up memory sticks and external drives through USB 2.0, or just play files directly from a card.
Inside the artsy chassis rests a 10in screen. At least, that’s what the box and site would have you believe, but the screen is actually bigger than advertised at 10.2in. It carries the same 1,024 x 600 resolution as most netbooks. Indeed, we’d be fairly confident in thinking the SPF-105P uses the same panel as might be found in the outstanding Samsung NC10.
At this stage some of you might have noticed we’re dealing with a proper widescreen frame here, where most digital frames have a traditionally more photo-friendly 4:3 or 5:4. However, with most new cameras offering widescreen shooting modes, having a truly widescreen photo frame actually makes sense. Also, as with every aspect of the SPF-105P, the aspect ratio is fully configurable, offering 1:1, Auto Fit, fit-to-width and stretch options.
Colour and greyscale reproduction are good and the high resolution means it offers a tight pixel pitch. Horizontal viewing angles are also impressive, though as always vertical ones are very poor.
When it comes to value for money, the SPF-105P is anything but an impulse buy, as the cheapest we found it for was £143.80 including delivery. This is as expensive as the 10in Kodak EasyShare W1020 Digital Picture Frame, which is wall mountable, can be used either horizontally or upright and offers video playback and Wi-Fi. On the other hand, the Samsung arguably has a more attractive design, a much higher resolution screen (1,024 x 600 compared to the Kodak’s 800 x 600) and best of all, a battery that makes it portable. Which one you go for depends on which of these features is more important to you.
Offering a higher resolution than most digital photo frames, functionality as a secondary monitor through USB and with a battery making it truly mobile, Samsung’s SPF-105P does a lot to justify its high price. However, in this price bracket, other photo frames offer different options such as Wi-Fi and video playback, which may be of more use depending on your needs.
Score in detail
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