In mid February, one of my sales reps at a distributor who knows I like cool gadgets, sent me a special on KDS 7″ Widescreen digital picture frames. I ordered a few for us and some family members and had a couple left over. I emailed some clients and offered a bundled special to sell the last two with a 1 GB Kingston SD card and the frame. Well the response was overwhelming and I ended up selling about 12 additional units. These are really great devices! Here is a quick review, and I still have one or two available from my last order.
KDS is a global LCD and Monitor companing and has been selling panels for years. These digital frames started to become a hot item around christmas time and were hard to come by. In a nutshell they are LCD panels mounted in a picture frame of sorts. They usually have digital media slots, internal memory or USB ports to plug media into. Once media (pictures) are loaded the frames can be set up to cycle through the pictures and display them on the screen. This solves the one complaint I have heard most often from Digital Camera owners that they never get to see their pictures.
These little KDS frames are great as they can display more than just pictures. They are a 7″ Wide Screen (16X9) display, much like on most portable DVD players. In the box you will find the frame, the AC Adaptor, a remote control, the stand and a video/audio out cable, Of course a basic (chinese written manual is included). The frame is self is about 8″ by 5″ with a clear lexan outer and a white bezel around the lcd about 1″ wide. There is a noticeable IR port for the remote on the bottom of the frame, but at least to me it is not a big deal. The frame has a slot for SD cards (MMC and Memory Stick also supported), a USB port, controls, the attachment for the stand and mounting holes to attach it to a wall.
Simply load in a card turn it on select pictures and they start to display on the screen. A couple of really nice things about the frame is that you can have it play music (stereo speakers built in) at the same time. The frame also supports several video formats so if your digital camera can take movies these can also be displayed! There are 13 different transition settings you can have between images (1 is random), as well you can pause your slideshow and zoom in and pan around the picture. The display is a matt finish to reduce reflections and is bright enough although brightness can be adjusted. You can have music from the card playing while viewing slides at the same time so you can create your own slideshows.
Want to see the pictures larger. The frame easily plugs in to a standard TV or VCR using the supplied video out cables so that you can show your photos off to guests.
The USB port is a great idea as you can install pictures on a flash drive and plug it in or transfer directly from your digital camera to the media card via the frame. Pretty slick and no need for a computer.
The day my first shipment arrived I quickly opened the package, loaded up an SD card with images from pour Hawaii trip in January, inserted it, plugged in the frame and started it. There they were scrolling through the all the pictures that I took. It was mesmorizing to everyone as all you end up doing is watching the first run of pictures.
After a couple of hours I finally got to paly with it a little more and adjusted the between picture transitions and played with the zoom and rotate features on the remote a little.
This leads me too a few of the minor little nitpicky things I don’t like about the frame:
1) While the screen is 7″ Widescreen, the problem is that pictures in a slideshow look better at 4:3 aspect ratio. Landscape pictures look fine when stretched but portrait pictures become distorted. If you only have portrait pictures or only landscape pictures this would be fine, bit most people will have a mixture of both.
2) Documentation. This is a chinese written manual and some of the translations are not perfect so it gets a little confusining to try and understand it at times. I had to read it a couple of times to figure out some of the features.
3) Remote functions… Basic functionality is simple, but this is a DVD player remote and learning what some of the controls do can take time. The manual does not go into great detail.
4) Probably my biggest beef. I really, really wish this had a random picture selection setting instead of being linear. Currently you select a folder and it plays those in order then moves on to the next folder, all the way through the card, then starts over. It means that if you want random photos, you wouyld have to rename them all (in the order you want) and stick in one folder.
5) No colour control, brightness and contrast only. No biggie the frame looks good as it is.
The frame can handle JPG files from cameras of 8MP or smaller. In the future this may be a problem as camera’s get larger and larger chips. Personally I resized all of my pictures before I put them on the memory card any ways. The best resolution for this frame is 1024 x 768. So why have a picture that is 3000X2200 on the card? This is just taking up space and will slow down the frame to. I use a batch photo resizer that I downloaded via the www.snapfiles.com freeware section and get my pictures down to 1000x (aspect locked resize). So instead of taking up 3 MB from my Rebel XT for each image, it takes les than 200K. I figure doing this on a 1 Gigabyte card I can load more than 10000 pictures! I use an external card reader on my PC for all media card work anyway.
Here is a link to the manufacturer’s web site http://www.kdsusa.com/MF-2007-1.asp
All in all I love this frame. Soon the prices will be down further and the 8 and 10″ frames will also come down in price (currently at about 300.00). At that point I wil surely get one of those.
If you are interested I have one or two left that I can sell and soon I will be able to get more. Current price for the frame with a 1 GB Kingston SD card is 160.00 + GST. Please email me at sysguy at sysguy dot com if you are interested.