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Toshiba's DMF82XKU 8-inch digital picture frame ($180; a 10-inch $230 model is also available; prices as of 10/6/09), has a sleek design and some useful wireless features. But looks aren't everything: The menu's icons are difficult to decipher and the user interface can be sluggish, making for a frustrating user experience.
The DMF82XKU is a chic-looking black frame accented with a narrow acrylic border; it is also available in white as the DMF82XWU. The frame's 1GB of internal memory allows you to store plenty of photos and music. It supports SD/SDHC, MultiMediaCard, XD-Picture Card, and Memory Stick or Memory Stick Duo, and it will play content from an inserted card.
As we’ve come to expect from a wireless frame, the DMF82XKU allows users to access online content from a variety of Web sites. Using a FrameChannel account, you can stream content from Facebook, headlines from news outlets, pictures from Flickr and Picasa, and more. Like most of its Wi-Fi brethren, however, the DMF82XKU must remain tethered to an AC adapter, so displaying the frame on a wall is out of the question. The frame is heavy, too, with a chunky protrusion on the back, so the DMF82XKU really looks best on a desk.
To access the frame's menu, you can use the included remote--whose tough buttons require a lot of pressure--or the touch-sensitive controls along the right side of the frame. The controls allow you to access the menu and to change modes, as well as to move to a previous option.
Unfortunately, operating the DMF82XKU is difficult to get a handle on due to the menu’s cryptic icons (a globe, a smiley face, a rectangle with bitmap-style shapes superimposed on it). And most modes, such as the slideshow, have limited options (a clumsy-looking dissolve or a snappy music-and-slide presentation). In addition, the frame is slow to respond to commands, putting up a whirling status indicator while loading a new mode.
Setting up FrameChannel was relatively straightforward on the DMF82XKU once we figured out how to access the frame's Wi-Fi settings. After we entered our network key using the remote, the procedure went off without a hitch. Once you link FrameChannel with your frame by entering a vendor-supplied code, you’ll begin to see your channels on screen (although we experienced a several-hour delay in updated subscription choices). Content rotated about once every 5 seconds in our tests.
The frame also offers calendar and clock views, along with single-image view. Slideshows can display with or without music, and the frame can handle nested content, displaying all photos stored in its internal memory or on an inserted media card. The frame has an auto-orientation sensor, as well, so you can show images with the frame positioned vertically or horizontally. Images appeared punchy on the DMF82XKU, with high contrast (adjustable in the Screen Settings menu) and a slight blue shift in white areas. Our test unit tended to blow out the brightest highlights more than some of the other frames we've tried, but photos looked sharp with good detail in midtones and most shadow areas.
The DMF82XKU will play JPEG, TIFF, and BMP images, MPEG-1/2/4 videos, and WMA and MP3 sound files. Audio quality was reasonable and not too tinny (a common issue among digital picture frames), although the volume was not quite loud enough, even when we were sitting right next to the frame. One thing we particularly disliked: In the music and slideshow mode, you can't alter the volume or otherwise control the music during the show.
Although the Toshiba DMF82XKU offers various Wi-Fi capabilities, its ease of operation leaves a lot to be desired--mostly due to the clunky hieroglyphics of its main menu. As with the new HP DreamScreen, we found ourselves wishing for touchscreen capability. At $180, Toshiba's entry into the digital photo frame market will have some tough competition, not least from models by HP, Kodak, and Transcend, all of which offer menu design that's miles beyond what this frame offers.
The DMF82XKU offers the some useful wireless features, but the user interface is frustrating and unintuitive.
- Wireless content streaming
- Attractive design
- Interface can be sluggish
- Cryptic menu icons
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