I recently received a surprise package, something that was sent out by the head of my organization at Microsoft as a “thank you” for our most recent fiscal year. It’s turned out to be one of the coolest gadgets I own.
What I received was the Momento Model 70 digital picture frame. And this is not just any picture frame. While most digital picture frames typically either display photos from a USB thumb drive, or allow you to copy photos to its internal memory, the Momento is WiFi enabled, which opens up many cool scenarios for displaying photos, and it runs on Windows CE.
Here’s a list of the features supported by the Momento:
- View photos from a USB thumb drive connected to the frame
- View photos from any PC on your network running Windows Media Player 11
- Select favorite photos from your computer as they display and add them to the frame’s internal memory for offline display
- View photos from an online RSS feeds you create on MomentoLive.com.
- Play MP3 or WMA audio files from USB device
- Allow friends and family to send photos directly to your frame via email
- Automatically update the frame’s firmware over WiFi
- Display Windows Vista SideShow gadgets on your frame
- Supports Portrait or Landscape orientation
- Includes RF remote for navigation
Here’s how it works…you open the box, plug it in, and walk through a simple set up wizard to get the frame on your network, and register it with the MomentoLive service. The Momento frame supports using a USB thumb drive to automatically set up the network connection, so you can avoid having to enter the WEP or WPA key by hand on the device. You then set up media sharing on the PC(s) you want to show pictures from, and select that computer on the frame, and you can display all pictures, pictures by keyword/tag, by folder, by date, by rating, etc.
So the good things about this device:
- Probably the most functional and feature-packed digital picture frame out there today
- One of the first devices I’ve seen on the market that acts as a standalone SideShow display for Windows Vista SideShow gadgets.
- Bright, clear display
- Ability to display photos from a wide range of sources
As with just about any device, the Momento is not perfect. Some of the things that could be improved:
- No support for WPA2 (probably doesn’t affect a huge number of people, but at least one of my coworkers ran into this)
- Occasional freeze requiring a power cycle
For a v1 device, this thing is very impressive. One of my favorite features, being a programming geek, is the SideShow support. By installing the Momento SideShow driver (for most folks, this should happen automatically via Windows Update…if you encounter any difficulties, you may want to have a look at some troubleshooting steps I came up with to solve an issue I ran into with my frame), you can display read-only information from Windows Vista SideShow gadgets on your Momento as an overlay to your photos, as shown below:
Out of the box, Vista provides gadgets for Windows Media Player and Windows Mail. More are available for download at the Windows Live Gallery.
But the best part is that it’s pretty easy to create your own SideShow gadgets. So you can always have your most critical information on display.
Once I got the SideShow driver installed, I was able to easily enable multiple SideShow gadgets, both downloaded and one I wrote myself. The Momento frame displays the gadget output in rotation…each time the picture changes, the next gadget’s output is displayed.
So despite a couple of hitches, I would definitely recommend this device to anyone who’s been considering getting a digital picture frame. The price is competitive with frames that provide far fewer features, and the ability to have friends and family send pictures via email is great for family members who may not be techno-philes, but have a wireless network available. The geek in the family can get them set up, and then everyone else can just send them pictures, which automatically display on the frame (clearly, you want to use judgement in who you give permission to email pictures, lest someone get the idea to prank you).
Definitely Stuff That Works.