I haven’t seen any data but the number of digital cameras floating around on phones and dedicated photography equipment must be staggering. With digital photography firmly entrenched, the LCD photo frame aims to complete the digital transition.
Read on for our take on Brando’s budget 7 Inch LCD photo frame.
At $118US, Brando’s 7 Inch LCD photo frame is priced to entice the budget conscious digital photography aficionado. The package contains a remote control, rudimentary user guide, A/V RCA cables, (HK?) plug pack and of course, the photo frame itself. Also included is a small stand that screws onto the back of the unit, allowing it to stand on its own accord in either landscape or portrait orientation.
The front of the photo frame is pleasantly devoid of any branding and its clear plastic surround adds a touch of simple elegance. While the frame can be easily orientated in either portrait or landscape, the small black oval IR receiver sits in the middle of the long side, providing symmetry only when in landscape orientation.
The LCD itself has a 16:9 aspect ratio which is great for watching videos (more on that later) but results in black borders on the left and right of regular digital photographs. While the frame has a zoom function which can remove these borders, purists will prefer to pre-crop their images for pixel perfect presentation.
Physically, the photo frame feels fairly well made and while the clear plastic edge has some play in it, the body and finish is neat. The frame is 23.9cm wide, 19.2cm high and 3.5cm deep and weighs 746g. The rear features Enter, Down, Up, Left, Right, Setup and Search buttons. While these buttons are functional, their layout renders them practically unusable. This is thankfully of little import as navigation and setup are easily accomplished with the included remote control. Oddly, the button text (and production stickers) all seem to be upside down relative to the front of the frame.
Behind the clear frame, the left side contains a 5V DC input, AV Output and USB input, while the right contains a single multi-slot for SD/MMC/MemorySticks. It is also worth noting that unlike many LCD frames, this one does not have any on board memory: Time to break out some of those old USB/MemorySticks.
The included remote control is 12.5x10x1cm and contains all the buttons necessary to control the unit. The remote is very light and runs on a single CR2025 battery. While the IR view is fairly narrow, when aimed accurately, we managed to control the frame reliably from just over 5 metres away.
The frame’s native resolution is 432×234 which isn’t as high as we would like, but at a few metres distance, images look quite acceptable. Admittedly, this is not awe inspiring high definition, but for the price – and at the distances suggested – acceptable enough. If you plan on having the frame on a desk or placed at a short distance from the viewer, a higher resolution screen may be a better option.
While it is billed as an LCD digital photo frame, the frame’s 16:9 aspect ratio gives a clue to its other functions. Not only can the frame play back MP3/WMA files while playing back photographs, but it can also play MPEG-1, MPEG-2/MPEG-4 and DIVX files. When coupled with the included RCA A/V cables, the photo frame can even be connected to a television, making it an inexpensive and portable media player.
The LCD photo frame has a many settings which can be adjusted to your taste, such as picture slideshow intervals (5 seconds – 3 minutes); 9 different transition effects (including a random setting); picture settings for both the LCD (brightness, contrast and saturation) and external outputs (brightness, contrast); etc. The unit also has eight OSD languages and even has four skin settings!
For the purpose of this review we played back various JPEGs up to 5 megapixel (2592×1944) from both USB and SD cards. All worked without issue. According to the user guide, the frame can handle up to 8 megapixels. As mentioned earlier, because of the relatively low resolution of the panel, when viewed from under a metre, even the best images appear soft or a little blurry. When viewed from 2+ metres away, however, the image is quite acceptable. Colour reproduction is good and images appear vivid and bright. The LCD panel’s viewing angle was very good when viewed from above, left and right, but viewing the frame from below, however, resulted in a traditional LCD washed out wide viewing angle image. We fired up some AVI files (DIVX) via SD card and found the videos to play back smoothly. Surprisingly, even AC-3 soundtracks were decoded flawlessly and played back through the unit’s 1w stereo speakers without issue. Sound was about what you would expect it to be: Not great, but acceptable for what is in effect, a photo frame.
* Displays digital pictures (JPEG) without a computer
* Support USB 2.0 interface flash drive
* Support Secure Digital Card (SD), MultiMedia Card (MMC) and Memory Stick (MS)
* Support play format: JPEG, MP3, WMA, MPEG1, AVI, MPEG4, DIVX2, DIVX3
* Bright 7” TFT active matrix LCD screen
* Built-in speaker
* Remote control or manual operation
* Power supply: DC 12V or 6xAA batteries
* Dimension: 239x192x35mm
* Weight: 746g
While the lack of internal battery power and the absence of wireless networking may turn some off, for those on a budget, who want basic photo viewing with bonus video playback, Brando have once again delivered.
The 7 Inch photo frame is available from Brando for $118US.
10w Power usage (at most) – 12w in our testing
Video playback capability.
Power cord/USB sticks visible from front viewing angle
No on board battery power.