Okay then – another day, another picture frame – but wait this one also predicts the weather.
The Polaroid 7″ Digital Photo Frame with Weather Station.
The name says it all really, it’s a 7″ photo frame with a weather station built in, made by Polaroid.
What’s in the box?
Exactly what you’d expect really, nothing more, nothing less. Nicely packaged for safe transit.
The photo frame has a 7″ LCD with a native resolution of 480×234 (more on this later). It accepts SD, MMC, MS Pro, MS Duo and USB memory sticks and has a brightness of 250 cd/m2 with a contrast ratio of 250:1
The weather station has 2 sets of information, indoors and outdoors.
A temperature range of 0 – 50deg Celsius, and a 0%-99% humidity reading.
A temperature range of -50 – 70deg Celsius along with a weather forecast display.
The outdoor sensor has a range of up to 25m depending on the number of walls and amount of interference in the way.
[Although the weather LCD appears to have space for Farenheit I couldn’t find any way to change to it instead of Celsius]
As you look at the main face of the device you see the widescreen LCD and the weather display bar, and in-between them is the IR sensor for the remote control.
As you look around the frame you find that on top there are buttons for controlling the image viewed and an exit button to get back to the previous menu / mode. There is also a brightness wheel which by default is at max and personally I can’t really see why you’d want to change it.
On the back there is a nice obvious power slider to turn the Photo frame on or off – this leaves the weather station running as long as there is power attached – and a stand to prop the frame up.
And on the side you’ll see the memory stick holes and what looks like a very bulky lump to plug the mains into. This bulky lump is actually the sensor for the indoor temperature and humidity information.
It’s also worth noting that on the bottom of the device is a brass screw thread to allow the frame to be put on a bracket – though no bracket is included in the box.
The remote is fairly obvious to understand even when you look at it for the first time, and in general controls work exactly as you’d expect.
So here we are with another digital picture frame, this time from Polaroid and with a built-in weather station display as well – let’s see if it has what it needs to lift itself out from the pack.
For handling the photos Polaroid have gone with a 7″ LCD with a native resolution of 480×234, which seems to be a common specification for lots of digital photo frames.
The first thing you notice when switching the frame on is that it has no onboard memory.
The upside to this is that there are no awkward menus to transfer photos from your memory cards to the device.
The downside is that you have to have a memory card in the device when you want to show photos, which means that memory card can’t be out and about taking more photos. This means that you are likely to make you own memory card for general photo cycling, and then unplug that for on the spot shows of shots you’ve just taken.
[Curiously though, there is a built in ‘Screensaver’ that does have some pre-stored images which you can’t access]
So if you insert a memory card and then turn the frame on, by default it starts an auto slideshow of the images that it finds on the card. All very easy for auto use – just the sort of thing to make it easy for family to bung in cards to show people.
You can go into the setup menu and change all the timings and effects on the slideshow as with most digital photo frames.
You can even ‘tag’ photos as favourites and have the slideshow only run through those.
For static browsing of photos you can also change the aspect ratio of the viewed image, zoom in up to 4x (though this zoom is of the resized image, not the original) and rotate the image (this is a temporary effect and the rotation is NOT stored).
When you go back to the memory card selector screen and then into a memory card it presents you with thumbnails of the images that it finds on the card. Unlike some other frames it doesn’t show you anything about the file structure of the card, it just adds any compatible images it finds to the display list.
On the whole I found the remote control and the interface in general to be really simple to use, not something I can say for all the other frames out there 😀
The one curio that I would mention about the controls is that that manual has been written with the controls on the frame in mind (it talks about << and >> and play/pause controls). These buttons whilst on the frame are not marked the same was on the remote. I would have thought that the markings on the frame and remote would be consistent if only for ease of understanding.
Not sure how to review this functionality really. It’s a case of add batteries to external sensor, place sensor somewhere where it wont get direct rain on it, and away you go.
The indoor information comes up immediately after plugging the mains power in, and the external information a little while later.
Whilst the weather forecasting also comes up fairly quickly the manual does say that it will take 4-8 hours to collect and analyse the atmosphere to then give a forecast that is good for 24 hours.
For me personally it’s a nice enough feature, but not something I’d use really. Though if you’ve chosen to get this frame instead of just a straight picture frame then I’d imagine it is more important to you than it is to me.
This is not a slight on this frame specifically, more of a comment on frames of this resolution and aspect ratio.
Personally I still think that this is too low a resolution to show photos, even with the best onboard rescaler imaginable images tend to be a little too blocky for my personal tastes.
The fact that it is landscape instead of 4:3 ratio like all my existing photos also adds to my frustration. The answer here apparently is that future digital cameras are going to be taking the widescreen images as their default – but that still doesn’t help me with my current photos.
As an aside I figured I would try resizing my images to the native resolution of the screen in my graphics package to see if I could get better results than the on board hardware – and to my suprise the image did not fill the screen. In 16:9 mode they were stretched horizontally and in 4:3 mode they were letterboxed like a widescreen movie on a 4:3 tv (and then placed in the middle of a widescreen display). This is obviously something to do with the software on the frame – so after that I didn’t bother trying to make my photos better myself.
In what may appear to completely contradict the above statement about image resolution, there is an option in the settings to use what is called ‘Mosaic View’ that I really liked.
What this mode does is divide the LCD into quarters so when the slideshow it run it changes 1 quarter of the image with the next slide before moving to the next quarter image for the next slide and so on.
Even though this results in even lower resolution images the effect is that that you get more of a ‘flavour’ of the images as a whole, and I found that I could forgive the low resolution for the feeling this invoked as a memory of the photos as a group.
I still don’t think that it’s a suitable resolution for showing the photos to other people mind, I just liked the effect 😉
Review by: Iain