Digital picture frames seem to be this year's Tickle Me Elmo. From computer and electronics retailers to office supply and department stores, nearly everyone is advertising a 7-inch frame for around $100. And, current frames offer features, such as TFT active matrix displays, network connectivity, and support for a wide variety of image, video, and audio file formats.
These LCD devices can make great gifts. I received on last year and love it. But, those with limited technical ability can have difficulty using them. I know my 75-year old aunt would love to have one, but there's no way she could set it up or add new photos. As the family's resident computer tech, I would wind up having to support my own gift-nothing like the gift that keeps on giving. Luckily, new digital frames, like the i-mate Momento, might put an end to my never-ending support nightmare.
Although i-mate specializes in Windows Mobile hardware and software, they entered the digital lifestyle market in 2006, with the Momento 100 (10-inch) and Momento 70 (7-inch) frames. As part of TechRepublic's Geek Gifts 2007 series, I tested the Momento 100.
Here's a quick rundown on what I liked and disliked about the Momento 100. Check out my gallery, "Geek Gifts 2007: i-mate Momento 100 digital picture frame", for a closer look at the frame, the configuration process, and its features.Likes
- Bright 800x480 display
- Built-in Wi-Fi
- Momento Live photo-sharing service
- Lack of an Ethernet port
- Cumbersome text entry via remote
- High price
The Momento 100's 10.2-inch, 800x480 TFT display is crisp, bright and provides great image quality. (My test unit had a blown pixel. I'll follow up with i-mate's support and let you know how they respond.) The unit supports a variety of memory cards (SD, MMC, xD, SmartMedia, and Memory Stick) and USB 1.1 and 2.0 flash drives. The frame can also play WMA and MP3 audio files.
The Momento can connect to your 802.11 b/g Wi-Fi network using WEP or WPA-PSK. I spent about 10 minutes configuring the frame for use with my home network. Entering the network's SSID and passcode via the remote was the most cumbersome and time-consuming part of the process. Using the network connection, the frame can stream photos from machines running Windows Media Player 11 on Windows XP or Windows Vista. The frame also supports Windows SlideShow gadgets-a Windows Vista feature which allows devices to display information (stock quotes, local weather, your calendar, etc.) from your PC. The Momento 100 can use your Internet connection to stream photos from i-mate's Momento Live Internet photo-sharing service, and it's this feature, above all others, which I believe makes the Momento 100 a great geek gift.
Momento Live is a free Web service that allows Momento frames to receive photos from several sources. Depending on the photo's aspect ratio and size, it is automatically resized/cropped when sent. You can upload photos from your computer. You can find and stream photos through the RSS feeds on popular photo sharing sites, like Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, or Windows Live Spaces. You can invite friends and family to join Momento Live and send photos to your frame. You can even send the same photos to multiple frames. And if you're on the go, you can e-mail photos directly to the frame or send photos from a mobile phone. Herein, i-mate has answered my prayer for a support-free gadget gift.
I can buy frames for my aunt, my father, my mother, and my in-laws. During my Christmas visits, I'll configure the frames and even load a few photos. Then, every so often, I can upload new photos and send them to all my relatives' frames in one shot. My sister and brother, who are spread across the US, can do the same. No more calls about attached pictures that won't open. No more explaining how to navigate photo Web sites. No more slaving for hours to crop/resize photos. Every week or so, new pictures will just appear.
So why aren't a bunch of Momento 100s awaiting delivery under my tree? Price. With a suggested retail price of $299 (US) for the Momento 100 and $199 for the Momento 70, these frames are a rather pricey gift if you plan to buy more than one.
All in all, the i-mate Momento 100 makes a great geek gift. It's an innovative product that can bring joy to both the recipient and giver. If i-mate drops the price $100 by next year, my relatives my find Momento frames under their Christmas trees.Geek Gift Score (out of 5)
Fun Factor: 5
Geek Factor: 5
Bill Detwiler has nothing to disclose. He doesn't hold investments in the technology companies he covers.
Bill Detwiler is Managing Editor of TechRepublic and Tech Pro Research and the host of Cracking Open, CNET and TechRepublic's popular online show. Prior to joining TechRepublic in 2000, Bill was an IT manager, database administrator, and desktop support specialist in the social research and energy industries. He has bachelor's and master's degrees from the University of Louisville, where he has also lectured on computer crime and crime prevention.