The folks from Sungale gave us a chance to check out their recently released 8″ touchscreen, WiFi digital photo frame and while we were initially excited by seeing the features we felt the actual implementation fell a little short of our expectations.
By reading through the features included in the picture frame we found that the designer was going for much more than just a picture frame, and we liked the direction they were heading. After all the list of functionality includes utilizing the WiFi connection to view weather, YouTube videos, Picasa photos, news, Gmail and internet radio. And of course you can view your photos as a slideshow on the device, but that’s the easy part, right? And this is all accessed through a touchscreen which for the most part usually makes this pretty intuitive and easy to navigate.
Using the photo frame was in fact pretty simple. We took it out of the box, plugged it in and after a short booting period we were viewing a default slideshow of photos. A simple touch of the screen and we were brought to a file storage navigation were we could pick directories to view photos (one directory at a time). Things kind of went down from there for us, however.
Connecting to any of the internet features required us to configure our WiFi connection which is fair enough, but it took a couple of tries to get it to work. Also, unplugging the device caused us to lose the connection settings and required them to be entered again.
The text based news came via RSS from Yahoo or Google, and the Gmail worked well enough and brought the information in. But only a few lines of text could be read at a time on the screen, and reading large articles or emails was difficult. The internet radio worked well enough too, and played through the mono speaker or headphone jack. Also YouTube videos came through for us in a small window, but only the top 10 from YouTube were accessible. We set the calendar and clock but only to lose those settings if the device is unplugged as well, possibly due to the lack of any NVRAM to hold those settings? The weather widget on the Sungale frame actually worked quite well, and was based on entering our zip code. It was easy to read and aside from showing photos was probably the best and most useful feature.
One of the things we were hoping for was the ability to transfer pictures to the photo frame through the WiFi connection. Sungale assured us a feature for this is coming in the future, but it was not available in the current model we reviewed. Transferring photos required a USB connection to a computer or through a Flash memory card.
Overall we have to commend Sungale for heading in what we feel is the right direction, making a wireless device with multiple uses and a nice touchscreen. We just hope they work on better implementing these features to become more convenient and useful in their products in the future.
OfficeMax has the 8″ Sungale digital photo frame currently available for just under $230.