Digital photo frames were for a brief time the talk of the town on gadget blogs around the web, we even reviewed a few here on Zath including the CIBOX C107 and even a fridge magnet digital photo frame, but the novelty soon wore off when certain tablets began to get rumoured. However, that hasn’t dissuaded from Sony attempting to innovate the market that little further by, for the first time, adding HD video support to their new ‘S-Frame’ range of frames.
In total, there are six new frames in the range with screen sizes varying from 7” up to 10.2”, so Sony assures us that we are guaranteed to find one that is perfectly suited to our living space. Each frame, in spite of screen size, comes with basic photo slideshow functionality, plus clock and calendar views for when you don’t want your photos on display. Another interesting addition, whilst fairly basic, is the inclusion of an illuminated Sony logo on the panel bezel, which disappears when the frames are positioned in portrait mode.
The XR100 flagship model, sized at 10.2”, seems the only one in the range, which includes HD video playback in MP4 or AVCHD format, perfectly suited for the majority of HD camcorders. In addition to that it provides stereo sound, which I hardly doubt is the highest quality, but will most likely provide a reasonable level of audio quality for basic videos, though if you take your photography seriously, the old fashioned computer is still probably a preferable method of playback. However, this is a first from Sony, so expect to see constant improvements over the coming months.
Slideshows and videos played back on the premium frame can be accompanied by a selection of pre-loaded audio tracks, which are nothing special just a few classical accompaniments.
The S-Frame range is also promoted as a really mobile device, and although they’re far from a tablet computer, they are small and light enough to take with you and show off to your friends and family. Perhaps in the future we may see some sort of projector connectivity on the range or even web connectivity for social integration.
Sony also offers a free engraving service, so the new range is clearly being dubbed as another wave of seasonal gifts this Christmas, particularly as the frames will hit the shelves from October. No pricing information available yet, so keep checking the Sony website and third-party retailers.
What do you think? Do you like your digital still photo frames? Or did you think they were just a novelty for a couple of years’ worth of Christmas presents? Now we have the iPad and many Android tablet devices appearing, are these digital photo frames now redundant even if you do add video playback to them?