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Digital picture frames: Avoid most frills, new test results confirm

Consumer Reports News: May 07, 2009 06:08 AM

Digital picture frames make great Mother's or Father's Day gifts, but a batch of models newly posted to our Ratings of digital picture frames (available to subscribers) confirms our advice to skip most of the frills used to make models stand out in a crowded market.

As we advise in our Buying Advice, including the video at right, when choosing a digital frame, the size, shape, and quality of the screen should be top priorities, along with a decent amount of memory and maybe a Wi-Fi connection.

The frames you'll encounter when you go gift-shopping this spring will try to entice you with all manner of features, from simple extras like built-in speakers and iPod docks to online photo-sharing services exclusive to a particular frame.

For example, the speakers on the frames we tested didn't sound good. Anyway, you probably don't want music playing continually in the background as your frame goes through its slide show over and over.

Another puzzling feature is Ceiva's subscription-based online photo-sharing service. There's no need to pay for storing your pictures on Ceiva's site when other frames let you choose popular free options like Flickr. However, if you are planning to use a photo-sharing site in conjunction with your frame, make sure the frame you choose supports Wi-Fi (it's built-in on some frames, optional on others, and not available at all on still others) and that it works with a site you like. Different frames support different services.

Do pick a frame with some extra memory, at least 256MB. But more is even better. One of the digital picture frames we recommend (available to subscribers) comes with 1GB, another with 512MB. Less than 256MB means you'll frequently be switching your camera's memory card in and out of the frame. Built-in memory is much more convenient. —Donna Tapellini

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