Electronic Picture Frames – Getting there, or missing the plot ?

I noticed the following posting on Gizmodo - the author is looking for an electronic picture frame, but doesn't like the Ceiva frames because they need to be plugged into a phone jack to download images, and can only pull images from the Ceiva server. The author points to a new electronic picture frame from eStarling which can pull images from RSS feeds (like Flickr or others) and supports WiFi (see image below).

Sounds great, right ? - perhaps the price is a little steep (~$250), but there's something else that bothers me about this... Who, typically do you purchase an electronic picture frame for? - your friends and co-workers all probably have PC's, laptops, Smartphones, PocketPC's (perhaps event a Mac), probably have wired and wireless networks at home, maybe even have a Media Center PC - so these people have all the technology needed to consume your Picture RSS feed and display images on a number of devices around the home or on the move.

I would suggest that the typical user for an electronic picture frame might be parents or grandparents who you want to share photo's of your kids, pets, vacation etc... these people may not have a home network, probably wouldn't know how to setup a WiFi connected picture frame (anyone interested in setting up the WEP or WPA settings for the frame over the phone?). The Ceiva frame solves this problem by using a simple phone jack to get images - the limitatiion of the Ceiva frame is that it needs to be close to a phone jack, and uses the Ceiva servers to store images.

Perhaps it would be interesting to build a picture frame that uses Cell technology to get images from your favorite picture RSS feed - in this case the frame wouldn't need WiFi, wouldn't need a dedicated phone jack - you simply need to plug in power and enter the name of the feed you are interested in consuming - the frame would take care of connectivity.

Thoughts ?

- Mike

Comments (8)

  1. Kevin Daly says:

    I have a sneaky suspicion that the most useful variety would be one that just reads its images from a local SD card.

    But then, I don’t "get" Flickr.

  2. mikehall says:

    reading from a local SD card – sure, that works, but that means you need to send SD cards to everyone that wants to see the photos.

    – Mike

  3. Andrew says:

    I don’t use them because I look at screens way too often already. Sometimes my life just consists of going from one screen to the next. The problem with their adoption, as with e-paper type products, in my opinion, is that they are not comfortable to view compared to real things. When I want to read long articles I usually print them off onto paper.

  4. BCross says:

    I just got a digital picture frame for my office.  The only time i’d look at photos otherwise is when my screensaver would come on, which usually meant i was away from my desk anyway.  I have a frame that does the memory card thing but has a decent resolution.  I’ve had 3 people come in my office asking if it was a real photo with a light shining on it :).

  5. mikehall says:

    Hey Brian, what frame do you have ?

    – Mike

  6. BCross says:

    The one by Phillips.  The only model number looking thing on the box is "7FFIAW".  I got it at costco online. it’s going for $199, but i got it on sale :).  It doesn’t do all the bubblegum features you might see on many other frames (mp3, mpeg, etc), but it does a decent job as displaying photos.  

    res is 720 x 480

    6.5" Diagonal

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