Here at DigitalReviews we have had our fair share of coverage of the digital photo frame genre and usually coming away with mixed impressions. With the recent launch of the Kodak EasyShare W1020 Wireless Digital Frame, Kodak has kindly provided an unit to DigitalReviews to roadtest. Do we have an stand out product on our hands?
The Kodak EasyShare W1020 Digital Frame exudes a certain simple elegance when admired from afar. The construction is a strictly plastic affair with a simple glossy white border surrounded by black edging. It is not fine timber or cool metal but the result is quite pleasing. A number of stick-on "mat boards" are provided as part of the package if you so wish to add a touch of colour and stray from the default white.
The kickstand swivels and locks into place giving the option of having the frame in either landscape or portrait orientation. There are keyhole slots for mounting the frame to a wall in either orientation and also a threaded tripod mount for those who wants to display their photos in that manner. In landscape mode the bottom of the frame has cleverly hidden rubber feet to help prevent the frame moving about and scratching the surface it is sitting on. This treatment however is not applied to the portrait mode.
The back part of the frame is home to card readers including support for CompactFlash, SD/SDHC/MMC, Memory Stick and xD-Picture cards. There is support for Memory Stick Pro and Memory Stick Pro Duo cards but the required adaptor is not provided as part of the package. There is USB and USB mini connectors, one in each flavour and the frame supports reading from USB mass storage devices.
Also tucked away on the back part of the frame is the power button, volume control and audio in/out jacks.
The 10 inch LCD has a resolution of 800x840 pixels which is par for course for a photo frame of this size. The panel has a 16:9 aspect ratio which I have always find to be an interesting choice for a photo frame as happy snaps has a 3:2 aspect ratio. Certainly Kodak is not the only manufacturer to make this decision.
The most noticeable feature on the Kodak W1020 reveals itself the moment you turn on the unit. Two strips of discreet orange lights runs along the right and bottom edges to indicate two sets of touch-sensitive areas for controlling the W1020's menus. A gentle tap brings up the menu and with a bit of a learning curve helped by some on-screen hints, I could navigate the menus reasonably well. Scrolling is done by swiping your finger along the bottom touch strip then pressing the corresponding "Select" touch point along the right strip. The hardest part is to keep remembering that it is not a touch screen device and wondering why it was not responding.
Picture quality is above average though not razor sharp. The images are a little lacking in details but bearing in mind the 800x480 resolution it does a decent job. The colours are quite natural and lean towards the vivid palette. The black is not deep but is compensated with a good mid-tone range to give definition to shadows. Viewing angles are good but not awe inspiring. In landscape mode, it is almost impossible to see the image from the left but from all other sides is fine.
There are two speakers embedded on the back of the frame which provides passable quality sounds for background music in MP3 format. Given the space limitation these speakers are never going to achieve high fidelity. There is an audio out socket which could be used to connect the frame to external speakers which may provide better quality sound.
In addition to displaying photos, the W1020 has limited video support in the MPEG-1, MPEG-4, AVI and MOV formats. The 512 Mb of built-in memory is rated to hold about 4,000 photos resized to the fit the frame's resolution. One item to note is that photos are automatically resized during the process of transferring photos to the frame. A sought after feature in the Kodak W1020 is the wireless support opening up an array of methods to have photos displayed on the frame. In addition to being able to copy photos from your PC, there is support for Kodak's own Gallery service, Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa, Webshots, Facebook and MSN photo sharing services. As a value added proposition, with some configuration via the Kodak's FrameChannel Web the W1020 is capable of displaying news, sports, weather and other information.
As always, there are a number of areas which are found to be issues. The general OS is sound and reasonably responsive. However, the biggest hurdle I faced in the process of road testing the Kodak W1020 undoubtedly is the virtual keyboard. Using the scroll bar interface to enter a maximum level security wireless passphrase ranks as one of the most annoying tasks I have had to do in recent times. I have to say I am glad that I only have to do it once.
- Image file formats: JPEG, EXIF
- Video formats: MPEG 1 and 4, AVI, MOV
- Audio formats: MP3
- Dimensions: 29.8 x 20.8 x 3.4 cm (11.7 x 8.2 x 1.3 in.)
- Weight: 893 g (31.5 oz)
- Display size: 25.9 cm (10.2 in.) diagonal
- Display area: 22.1x 13.2 cm (8.7 × 5.2 in.)
- Display resolution: 800 x 480 pixels
- Aspect ratio: 16:9
- Display type: aSi TFT active matrix
- Display backlight: LED
- Display brightness: 350 NITs
- Contrast ratio: 300:1
- Memory: 512 MB* internal memory available, 2 memory card expansion slots
- Memory cards supported: Secure Digital (SD), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC), Multimedia Card (MMC), MEMORY STICK (MS), XD-Picture Card (xD), CompactFlash (CF), USB flash drives
- Power consumption: 6.80 W (power on), 0.47 W (standby power), 0.47 W (power off)
- Power supply: 100–120 V AC, 60 Hz (US), 100–240 V AC, 50/60 Hz (WW), 12 V DC
- Operating temperature: 0° to 50° C (32° to 122° F)
The Kodak W1020 is a well thought out digital photo frame that performs the basic photo display function admirably. Without doubt it is feature packed although some features are less useful than first appears. Overall there is a good balance between the performance, image quality, features against the cost. The ability to connect to web based image hosting website certainly makes this an attractive proposition as a gift to the less technology savvy members of the family who are keen to see changing images from your life.I did find it challenging to navigate all the options via the frame once the initial work was done. However, in the normal course of use I would invest the time and effort to configure the unit to function as I want it then rarely change the settings unless required.
Kodak EasyShare W1020 Wireless Digital Frame is available now for USD$229.95 (or AUD$429.00).