Digital photo frames are a popular way to show off your photos. There are plenty of frames to choose from and you get what you pay for. The most important feature of a digital picture frame is its picture quality. You want your photos to be displayed clearly with all the beautiful colors you see on your computer monitor.
Resolution is King
The most important determining factor of picture quality—other than your own eyes—is screen resolution. Lower resolution frames display your photos as if you were viewing them through a thin layer of frosted glass: they have low contrast, reduced color saturation and less sharpness than better quality screens. The resolution needed to produce a good quality image varies depending on the size of the screen: smaller screens don’t require as many pixels as larger screens.
SmartParts Picture Quality
The Smartparts 8-inch frame is a good choice in all these categories. Although Smartparts doesn’t list the actual resolution anywhere on their website or in the package, I’ve discovered that the resolution for this frame is 800 pixels by 600 pixels. An image this size will exactly fill the entire screen.
Viewing images on the Smartparts 8” (that’s the viewable size) is similar to viewing them on a typical notebook screen. The colors are true, the picture sharp and there is just a little bit less contrast than what you’d see on a good desktop monitor. The difference in contrast is small enough that you won’t notice it unless you compare the same photo on both the Smartparts frame and your desktop monitor.
The Smartparts digital photo frame has a limited sweet-spot for viewing the photo. Viewing the frame from more than about 10 or 20-degrees off center results in reduced quality. This is the same as most notebook screens and is not objectionable.
SmartParts Construction: Genuine Wooden Frame
The genuine wooden frame and beige-colored matting add an air of quality to this digital photo frame. The frame, mat and glass can easily be removed in order to clean the glass or replace the mat. They are held on with two thumb screws and once removed, the three pieces separate just like you’d expect from a frame on a printed photo.
If you have access to a mat cutter or a nearby framing shop, you could easily cut a new mat in whatever color you desire. The mat will need to have two additional round holes drilled or cut into it at the bottom center of the frame (when used horizontally). These holes allow the two sensors—one for motion detection and one for the remote control—to work. The glass can easily be replaced: it’s standard photo glass.
Replacing the frame would be a bit more difficult. There are two metal screw threads embedded in the frame where the thumbscrews attach. It would be difficult, though not impossible, to insert new screw threads in the correct positions on a new frame so that the thumbscrews would still work.
The Smartparts frame can be controlled either from the buttons on the frame itself or from the included remote control. The buttons are located on the back of the frame, so it’s a lot easier to use the remote control. The remote is small–about the size of a CF card–so you’ll want to keep it in a safe place so that you don’t lose it.
The Smartparts PX8 picture frame supposedly allows video, such as slideshows, to be uploaded to the frame from your computer. I could not get this to work. It seems like a lot of trouble to go through since the frame will automatically make a slideshow of any still images loaded onto it.
The Smartparts PX8 Digital Photo Frame is well-made and easy to use–as long as you load your photos directly to it via a CF card. Connecting to a computer is problematic and the included software is a bit clunky. Stick with the CF cards and you’ll be happy. The picture quality is very good–I’d rate it 8 out of 10–for this type of product.