Digital picture framesLCD panels that sit upright on a table or shelf, or hang on the wall to display imagesare a cool idea, and theyve suddenly become a hot consumer item. But most are a pain to use.
They rarely have enough onboard memory to hold a reasonable selection of photos and the only way you can add pictures is by inserting a camera card or, in some cases, plugging in a USB drive. Most are also pretty much single-application devices: displaying locally stored images is all they can do.
D-Link is trying to change that. Its DSM-210 Wireless Internet Photo Frame ($290) connects to a home (or office) Wi-Fi network and lets you pull images from computers on the network. It connects to the Internet, as well, to pull images and information from the Web, including from photo sharing and social media sites, such as Flickr, Picasa and Facebook.
You can also control the DSM-210, in limited ways, over the network from a PC using a Yahoo widget developed by D-Link for the purpose. The DSM-210 is not perfect, but its a creditable first foray into a new product category for D-Link. The wireless and Internet features make it a big improvement on most other digital frames out there.
That said, D-Link was not the first with a Wi-Fi picture frame. Kodak introduced wireless frames two years ago, though without the Internet functionality. And there are others available now as well. The wonder is that manufacturers dont include Wi-Fi on all or at least more of their products. It makes the device so much more useful and convenient.
D-Link originally unveiled the DSM-210 in January, but then went back to the drawing board to refine the product. Its finally available now for $290 from the companys Web site.
The screen is a 10-inch (diagonal) 800x480-pixel TFT LCD. Its good enough for the kind of photo viewing you do with a product like this, and the screen size, but it wont show off your pictures to absolute best advantage. If you get too close, for example, you can see the dots. A more serious flaw: no contrast or brightness controls.
None of these are flaws unique to the DSM-210, however. The same can be said of many, possibly most, digital frames. In fact, the screen in this one is better than in some weve looked at.
Given that LCD monitors double the size sell for as little as $200 and Wi-Fi adapters for less than $50, the price for the DSM-210just based on the componentryseems a tad steep. You pay a premium presumably because so few other frame products have the networking capabilities. The 10-inch Wi-Fi frame from Kodak lists for $270, for example.
The DSM-210s screen is set in a plain charcoal-colored plastic frame with rounded corners. The kit also includes a clip-on white face plate, so it should fit in just about any décor.