Pros: Compact size, good features and supported file types
Cons: 800x600 not the best for pictures, but seems standard in the class
My wife and I were walking around Best Buy a few nights before Christmas and I noticed she was looking at the digital picture frames. We like to find gifts that neither has asked for but would like and I took this interested as a idea to surprise her for a change. Especially since she doesn't get interested in electronics. She just says that whatever I decide is fine for such things.
I couldn't believe that prices were upwards of $90 for a little 7in 800x600 screen so I waited and did a little research on them first. Granted BB had cheaper frames but they were still 800x600. I wasn't trying to cheap out on buying the gift but thought that it was a little higher for it since the cheaper brands had the same resolution and size. So after we concluded our browsing fired up the good ole Amazon site at home and started digging. I ran across this Aluratek company. Never heard of them. Seems most of the frames I came across in the reasonable price range were all the 800x600 resolution (some were even less). I was happy with one that had a USB port (of which some didn't even have that [only and SD slot]). So at first I ordered a Aluratek ADPF08SF. Which I will comment on at first since it goes to the company's product and the niggles I found came up the same in both this lower version as in the ADMPF108F (one step up) model.
When the ADPF08SF arrived I popped it and and started to play around with it to make sure it was a decent frame and it worked. I'm glad I did instead of just wrapping it up as there was a dead pixel smack dab middle of the right third of the screen smack. Not a promising start for Aluratek. But before I shipped back (not even 2 hours after getting from the UPSman), I fiddled with it quickly before the wife got home from work.
The other things I noticed about it (and like I said these are the same with the ADPF08SF model) is that 800x600 isn't the best resolution around, but for around $40 it was fine. The USB was nice since the frame started playing the found .jpg files w/o having to tell it what folder to look in and such. Now this may be a good thing and it can be a bad thing I guess if there are pictures that you don't want shown on the frame. Not that this is the case, but imagine having the frame running and you have the family over for dinner and the thing starts playing some forgotten funky or risque photos you took while you were inebriated one night. LOL. Anyway, so unless you have a dedicated USB drive (or SD/SDHC card) with appropriate pictures on to dedicate to this frame it might be an issue since there is not internal memory (of which I didn't realize the ADMPF108F does have).
The other thing I didn't really like about it was that it came across pictures that were in portrait orientation but were not a large size it stretched and contorted them to fit the screen. It would have looked better it left it alone and just displayed it smaller. Now for landscape picture of this same nature it does fine and it left them alone.
Another little niggle I had with this frame and the same is true on the ADMPF108F, the flash drive stick out the side and are visible as they play and the LED flashes since it is pulling the picture directly from the drive. Now if you'd be using an SD card it wouldn't be visible but since most of my wife pictures are on a Sony memory stick pro (which isn't supported w/o the SD/SDHC adapter) it was an issue.
So now having fiddled with it, I packed it back up and fiddled out the return request on Amazon and taped up the box. Now before the wife got home I started looking up different frames and then I came across the ADMPF108F. Which I liked much better than what I had just packed up to return. So quickly I unboxed the defective 08SF and re-returned the frame requesting a refund instead of a replacement since the 108F was a much better idea. So I'm glad the SF was defective because somehow I completely missed the better frame.
The main differences between the ADMPF108F and the ADPF08SF is quite a bit for a difference of only $3 (at the time-I think it was $8 at this writing). The step up get you not only a remote control and the ability to play movie and music files, but it also comes with 512mb of internal memory card. There is also a supplied USB cable (not that all of us don't have a plethora of those laying around) to upload files directly from the computer.
Plus with the ability to play music files you can also set up the frame to run slide shows while having background music playing. Not somethying we'll use but some might like.
Both picture frames are not wall mountable, not that an 8in. frame would look quite right hanging, but you'll have to step up to the 12,15 or 19in models if you want them hanging (there is a 14in size but it doesn't indicate that you can hang that, I think it's a typo, but that just my opinion and can't say for certain).
But what I can say is a typo in not only Amazon's description but also the information grid on the listing and the Aluratek site is that it does not have 512mb of internal memory. If fact it has 2GB. A 2GB card doesn't show up until your get to the 15in size frames (the ADMPF315F). So I don't know if they just didn't update the listing or if it was a typo from the beginning, as the box states its a 2GB and the frame itself shows it as 2GB when plugged in. So score one for Aluratek if they did upgrade their frames to a more usable size of memory. and Tsktsk to the one who didn't make the product descriptions correct.
Now as I said before regarding idiosyncracies of the ADPF08SF are still true of the ADMPF108F (picture being stretched, Thumb drive visibility, and Sony memory sticks not supported w/o adapters), but with the internal memory you don't really have to worry about last two).
The remote is a simple copy of the control buttons on the rear of the frame. A major round control button to plop around the different menu icons and four other control buttons (power, enter, etc. . .). It really does make it easier to flip around the different functions since you don't have to be looking at one side of the screen while fiddling with the controls on the back.
So in my opinion spend the extra $5 (or $8 now) and get the slightly upgraded ADMPF108F instead of the ADPF08SF or the $90 for the 12in, $99 for the 14in, $129 15in, or $279 19in. But you don't really gain anything but going bigger aside from spending more money on being wall mountable (except for the 14in so they say). Plus if you're going to be spending that much on a picture frame I'm sure you would be spending it on frames with better resolution. (Although the 14in has 1366 x 768; the 15in 1024 x 768, the 19in 1440 x 900), plus the 15 and 19in models have a white matting around the screen to help it look like a real picture frame. But again at the cost of those models you could find better brands.
I hope the issue with the orginal SF frame was just a fluke, but so far my experience with Aluratek is 50%. Not the best considering it was the first experience, but the second frame seems much better function wise. As for the overall appearance . . . it is just a plain jane black plastic rectangular frame, no frills, unless you count the little IR receiver window for the remote a frill.
After finally getting to take this out of the box and get it plugged in to upload stuff, I wante dto bring some this to this review.
First- the navigation button is alittle slow on the movement. It seems like you'll click the pad to move the icons around and it sits for a second then it moves. When yo're moving around the main menu screens and you hold the direction down it will wait, then it will go, and boy does it go. You will miss your intended icon by two, at least. Then you'll struggle to get back to it with single clicks which I seem sto have finally gotten the hang of, by having to push, hold for a half second and then let go.
Also when plug the frame in via the included USB cord, it di9dn't power up the first time. So I figured it has to be plugged in all the time with the actual power cord. After putting the AC cord in it worked fine. But then IU was able to pull the power cord and it would stay powered by the USB alone. why it can't start up with just the USB I don't know. Another thing is that when it is powered with the USB only the colors get washed out and when you plug the AC back in it will go back to normal. Don't know if this is something screwy with this particular frame or it it is the same across the line.
Another niggle is that when you do get to plug in to the computer to transfer pictures the computer will not recognize the frame. When you struggle to get to instruction manual (e version is included in the frames memory) (or you could use the paper version), it was in French.Plus there is music that plays as you try to flip through it, and it was difficult to get it to pause on the page you needed to look at. Then after I backed out, I realized that there are icons above the slider menu bar which is where the English manual is. After finding the page on how to connect to the PC (Page 8), all it says is plug it in via the USB and the computer will recognize it as a removable drive. Uh, NO it doesn't. It took another 15 minutes of clicking through menus on the frame until I figured it out. When you want to use a plug in flash drive the frame will recognize it immediately, but the PC connection is different you have to go into the "setup" menu, click UP to get to the "Common" menu, then go down to the "USB Mode" and change it from "UDISK" to "PC" THEN it will start the PC connection screen and the computer will blink that there is a removable drive ready to use.
So much for instruction manuals.
Something else I ran across in the menus that I didn't see mentioned elsewhere was the ability for Ebooks to be uploaded to this. I don't use ebooks, but it would seem sthat thie interfaces and buttons would be clunky to use for an ereader type thing. Especially since you'd have to keep the unit plugged in to use it since there are no batteries.
There are several nice clock options. There is the usualy analog looking, white on black round clock w/ red second hand, Chrome looking on black digital (with date), same chrome look with a full month calendar w/ red weekend days, and the round analog and full date calendar.
Lastly, the frame gets a tiny bit warm around the AC plug. Hope it won't be a problem, but I'll keep an eye on it and report if it does.
Had to contact support staff regarding the remote control which doesn't work. I should have tested it when I got the frame in Dec. but I only teried it last night and it was dead.
I called thier customer support and was holding for less than 5 minutes and the person was helpful. He asked what type of frame I had as apparently there are more than one of this model and you can only tell which one by what color the background screen color is on the menu (huh? really?) Anyway. When I told him what color it was (blue) he said, Oh I know which one that is (Don't know if that was a good thing or a bad thing). But when I asked him about the memory descrepancy (listed as 512mb and I have 2GB) he said that some of this frame model were shipped with the bigger memory instead of the 512mb chips. So again, was that agood thing or was that a chinese oopsie? Who knows, but he called it a "memory upgrade" jokingly. Then getting back to the remote issue, he said to t ry it infront of adigital camera (which I had already done) and it was completely dead. (and no the batteries are not dead :P as I tried two different ones from our Samsung 3d glasses for the TV in it as they are the same).
He then mentioned that the replacement remote was $15.99 + s/h. When I asked about it being under warranty since the frame was only 6mo old, he said to copy the Amazon invoice and email it. So I guess we'll have to wait and see what they do. Personally I think it will be nothing but I'll keep you updated .