Digital Picture Frames Product Guide

Digital Picture Frames

Digital Cameras have introduced a new concept. Pictures do not always have to be printed. People initially view them on their camera's screen. Then many transfer them to their computer and set up visual libraries. Many store their images on picture websites like Flickr.com. Most cameras come with an A/V cable so you can view your pictures on a TV screen. In effect, viewing and sharing pictures no longer require printing.

Digital files stored on memory cards and discs or on websites are now replacing those picture albums that piled up in closets for the past century. Most people view images on digital media players (such as the iPod), PC screens, and televisions.

A Digital Picture Frame is a natural extension of the digital camera. Unlike frames that stored one print, a digital picture frame stores files of images, usually taken directly from the memory cards you use in your digital camera. A typical frame's rear has slots for various memory card formats, a USB port for transferring images from your computer, and a connector for a power source. Most can be placed on a table or hung on a wall. AC wall current powers most while some work with batteries as well.

Almost all available frames are compatible with JPEG, MP4, DivX, AVI, MPEG1, MPEG2, MPEG4, MP3, WMA, and WAV formats. Besides your pictures, you can also view movie clips that have been taken with your camera, even play music in the background.

The screens are LCD. They share similar technology with flat-panel screens like computer monitors and widescreen televisions. Average screen sizes range from about 7 inches diagonal to over 15 inches diagonal.

Many digital frames also have built-in speakers so you can add MP3 audio/music files to accompany your displayed images.



Memory


Digital Picture Frames have internal memory storage. It varies from one frame model to another. Some have about 128MB while others have as much as 1GB or more.

Memory isn't that significant if you simply want to load one picture at a time onto the screen. It plays a more crucial role when you want to plan slide shows - displays of several photos repeated in sequence.

It's also important when you want to display images that are memory rich like those taken from 10 megapixel digital cameras.



Screen Size


As with TV screens and monitors, all digital picture frame screens are measured diagonally in inches, from (let's say) the top left corner to the bottom right corner. The actual sides of the screen may differ. This means that a 7-inch screen might display an image at a little less than 4" x 6" and a 10-inch screen might adequately produce a display of 7" x 8.5". If you want to mount a screen on the wall, you may opt for a larger screen. If you want to place it on your night stand, a smaller screen might be sufficient.



Landscape or Portrait Orientation


All digital picture frame images can be displayed in either landscape or portrait modes



Contrast Ratio


Contrast is the ratio between the white and black parts in an image. The larger the contrast ratio of a display device, the greater is the difference between the brightest whites and the darkest blacks that a screen can show.

If a screen ratio is 300:1, would imply that the maximum displayed black is 300 times darker than the white. For most digital picture frame screen sizes, a contrast ratio of about 300 to 400 times will offer excellent image quality.



Image Brightness


How bright is the image? It's important. Can you see the image when a room is lit? Image brightness is associated with how well you can see a picture on a screen within your room's typical ambient light. A higher image brightness level would appear to provide a better contrast ratio for a fixed level of ambient light.

Brightness is measured as "cdm2". That means the number of candelas per square meter. Simply, a candela is the brightness of a candle within one particular direction over a square meter. When considering that most of these screens are less than 15 inches, a brightness of 250 to 400 cdm2 would deliver significant brightness in any artificially lit room. Perhaps the only condition where it wouldn't be bright enough might be under direct sunlight.



Screen Resolution


Depending on overall screen size, typical resolution might be around 640x480 for a 7-inch screen to about 1024x768 for a 15" screen.

Resolution refers to pixels, the number of illuminated dots that display the image on the screen.

Don't let the size of the numbers fool you. Your current analog 27 to 32 inch TV screen has a resolution of about 720x480. For the most part, images will appear very sharp on the digital picture frame.

While many cameras might produce images with greater resolution, most picture frames can provide excellent results with image files created by cameras up to 10 megapixels. (Some people might want to step-down their original image resolution which can easily be done with most image-editing software.)



Remote Control


Most models include a remote control, which lets you change images or program slideshows easily any wirelessly in your room.



Summary


People are flocking to buy digital picture frames. It's the best way to display digital pictures at home or office. They make great gifts for relatives and for those far from home. Operation is extremely easy.

Many digital frames have decorative borders that can be interchanged to complement the d├ęcor of many rooms.

Many frames offer built-in speakers to add sound and music to photo displays. In addition to stills, most frames will also display movies from camcorders or digital cameras that have been stored on your PC (and transferred by USB) or compatible memory cards.

Most frames are compatible with SD (Secure Digital), CF (Compact Flash), XD (XD PictureCard), and Memory Stick storage card formats.

Seek a frame with more internal memory for greater capacity to display movies and different slide shows.

If you have a high-resolution digital camera, choose larger size picture frames with higher screen resolutions for better, more accurate display.

With digital picture frames, photo albums are approaching obsolescence. These digital images are brighter, more alive, and less vulnerable than prints. And one frame can hold hundreds of images instead of one picture. It is a simple way to create a library of smiles and memories that everyone can enjoy anytime.

And it definitely won't end up in the closet!





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