capsule review

Pandigital DPF80-2

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At a Glance
  • pandigital Pandigital DPF80-2

Printing your digital pictures isn't the only way to enjoy and display them. A digital photo frame, such as the $199 Pandigital DPF80-2 model I looked at, is a viable alternative for showcasing collections of digital images.

The Pandigital boasts 64MB of internal memory; four media card slots; an 800-by-600, backlit, 8-inch LED display (rated for viewing from a 65 degree angle, although I found viewing images comfortable at slightly greater angles); and two swappable frames (a classic, black wood version and a modernist, clear acrylic one).

The unit uses the same type of imaging chip set as you'd find in a digital media player. This chip set, according to Pandigital, is what allows you to use the device's two USB 2.0 ports (one of them a mini-USB connector) to link it directly to a PC, a digital camera, or an external, independently powered hard drive. Attaching a shipping version of the frame to a flash drive worked smoothly for me, though the unit was a bit poky in making the connection.

In my hands-on trials, the 8-inch screen displayed brilliant images; my photos were clearly visible even under moderate ambient light. The display's native 4:3 dimensions are well matched to those of many digital photographs, and generally it doesn't need to scale your images to fit the screen. I had no problems with images from a point-and-shoot camera, but my digital SLR photos didn't fill the screen; in the latter case, rather than cropping, the images had a minor letterboxing effect. You can situate the frame horizontally or vertically. The device doesn't automatically rotate vertical images (you can rotate individual images, but the rotation won't stick if you revert to slide-show mode).

I found a lot to like in this picture frame, but I also discovered a lot of quirks. For example, the graphical main menu is a friendly interface, but you don't get a standard, nested file-folder structure for easy browsing, a big negative if you need to locate and view a specific file on a high-capacity, chock-full USB drive or memory card, or if you want to separate collections of media into subject-oriented folders.

You can do a lot of navigation with the on-unit controls; at the rear, the frame has multipurpose forward, back, play/pause, and exit buttons (to learn that the exit button doubles as the setup button, you'll have to read through the included manual). Some other buttons, however, like the slide-show, zoom, and rotate buttons, are located only on the remote control.

The text-based overall settings menu is less appealing but gets the job done. Here you can adjust the slide-show effects (choosing from among six settings), the interval speed (from 3 seconds to 60 seconds), and the shuffling settings; you can also adjust the display's brightness/contrast and color/tint (a separate on-unit dial controls the backlight's brightness).

The included remote is tiny--small enough to slip into the CompactFlash card slot for handy storage. Unfortunately, I found the soft-touch buttons a bit stiff, making the remote a chore to use for extended periods (the on-unit buttons were far more conducive for navigating through files).

If you get tired of images, the Pandigital can also play music and videos: In addition to JPEG files, it handles MPEG-1, AVI, and MP3 files. The unit's integrated, stereo, 1-watt speakers were acceptable; though a bit bright, they sounded decent at maximum volume (but they're no substitute for a good speaker system).

Ultimately, however, those added media-playback capabilities are tangential to the main event, namely the display of digital images (one at a time, or in a slide show). For that function the Pandigital DPF80-2 is highly attractive, albeit limited in its browsing functionality. Its bright, crisp screen and its memory card slots--which let you easily supplement the built-in storage--helped it earn a spot on my desk.

Melissa J. Perenson

This story, "Pandigital DPF80-2" was originally published by PCWorld.

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At a Glance
  • pandigital Pandigital DPF80-2

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