I’ve looked at a few different wireless picture frames to give to various relatives over the years, but the problem is that the older relatives don’t have WiFi in their homes. So, I would have to rely on flash drives or SD cards to get new pictures to them, and honestly there’s not much chance that I would keep that up. But the Photo Mail frame that AT&T sent me* to try has solved that problem.
The concept is simple: the person using the frame needs no internet hookup whatsoever, since the frame works over AT&T’s network. You can email pictures directly to it, with no ongoing subscription. The frame comes with its own unique email address, and sixty download credits. After that you can buy download credits for ten cents each, or less – the more you buy at a time, the cheaper each one is. You can buy these credits online or directly from the frame.
The frame comes with a remote control, and in a stroke of genius the remote can attach magnetically to the back of the frame, so that it won’t get lost. The look of the frame is like any good picture frame – no plastic in sight. Just wood, and then matting under the glass framing the image area. A second matte is included in case you want a different color.
Setting the frame up was extremely easy: within ten minutes of opening the box I had transferred pictures from my computer to the frame, over email. I plugged it in and turned it on, and using the email address on the back I sent two pictures to it. Within a couple of minutes I’d gotten an email that the pictures had been received by the Pandigital system and would be delivered soon to the frame, and then a couple minutes after that received a notification on my frame that I had something to download. I clicked enter and the images downloaded in under a minute.
The frame has an internal memory of 1 gigabyte. Pictures of about 1 megabyte or more look very crisp on the screen, so you could store almost 1,000 pictures on the internal memory and have really good quality images.
Playing and adding images from an SD card was very easy. There’s an option to import all images, or you can go through and choose which ones you want to add to the internal memory. There are lots of options for how the slideshow plays, from transitions to the order to adding music. Photos can be arranged into certain folders and slideshows can be played from just one folder at a time if desired.
Some things I didn’t like:
- The remote control is very temperamental. It only works from a maximum distance of a few feet, and has to be pointed directly at the bottom of the screen. I usually had to press a button a few times to get it to work. (However, you don’t have to use the remote control – there are buttons on the back that can be seen easily when looking over the top of the frame.)
- Internal WiFi would make this frame so much more flexible.
- The slots for SD cards and flash drives are so close to the frame it can be difficult to get them in.
- The frame comes with way too many features – greeting card making, clock and alarm, etc. – that are too cumbersome to use and just clutter up the menus. Simpler would be better.
- The video feature supports only .avi files, which is very limiting.
- The User Guide is very out of date, mentioning Microsoft services that haven’t existed for quite a while.
To sum up:
Basically, if you want a really simple and attractive way to get photos to a loved one almost instantly and don’t want to worry about WiFi connections or monthly subscription fees, this frame is an excellent choice. The price is much lower than many digital frames of the same size (I found it for about $87 on Amazon), and it will fit right in with non-tech decor. Buying additional credits is easy and inexpensive, and most people wouldn’t have a problem navigating the one or two clicks necessary to download new photos from the Photo Mail service.
The one big suggestion I have for future versions of this frame (besides stripping out the unnecessary features) is to make the photo downloads completely controllable from a remote source. I mentioned in the last paragraph that most people wouldn’t have a problem navigating the simple download process, but it would be great to have an option for those who might have trouble. For example, the purchaser could set the frame to download all images sent to the frame automatically. As long as they don’t give away the unique email address to anyone else, they would have complete control over which pictures make it to the frame.
But this is a minor suggestion. The service is already very simple, and I would absolutely use my own money to buy this frame as a gift for anyone who wanted to receive frequently updated pictures of my family.
*AT&T send me this frame in conjunction with their fabulous sponsorship of the SheStreams conference, which I attended last week. Huge thank you to AT&T for supporting bloggers, vloggers, and podcasters!
Originally posted on Selfish Mom. All opinions expressed on this website come straight from Amy unless otherwise noted. This post has a Compensation Level of 1. Please visit Amy’s Full Disclosure page for more information.