Review: eStarling Impact7 Wifi Photo Frame

Sharing photos is something we’re all doing with regularity these days. We whip out our digital camera, iPod or even a digital photo keychain to share shots we’ve taken of everything from dolphins to dog drool.

But what do you do if you want to share these photos in your home? Corner your guests and perch beside them on the couch for endless hours of sharing? Not hardly.

There are now digital photo frames on the market that allow you to load your photos and then set them loose as a digital slide show. Great, huh?

Well I found something last month that could make photo hostage taking a thing of the past. It’s a digital photo frame that can be run via the Internet, a handheld remote or even email.

This frame, the Impact7 from eStarling, sets up easily and works as advertised. In a mere five minutes I had plugged the frame in, signed up online and was sending photos from my phone to the frame without a hitch.

At $99 (MSRP), this Wifi-enabled frame lets anyone with your particular email address send photos to the frame. They take about two or three minutes to arrive and then they just show up for everyone to see.

This could present some issues if your enemies got the email address, but eStarling has anticipated that and allows users to set their own address for receiving photos. You choose the first part of the email during the online set-up and then share it with only the people you choose.

The online interface also lets you manage your photos so instead of sticking a memory card into the frame (which you can do as well), you can load pictures right from your desktop and manage how long they are displayed.

You can also delete photos you don’t want – like the picture of the pig roast I sent to the frame – and keep the shots of family, friends, vacations and whatnot.

The cord fits unobtrusively in a notch in the bottom back of the frame. And it’s long enough that you don’t have to be right on top of an outlet.

Annoyances? Sure, there are some.

First, the frame needs a Wifi signal – it doesn’t have its own built into the frame. I imagine those are coming but they’re not out yet.

Next, there is practically no instruction manual in the box. The only documentation you get is a tiny pamphlet showing you how to get onto a Wifi signal. This book also points you to the SeeFrame.com Website where there are more comprehensive instructions.

If I weren’t around to help set this frame up at my parent’s house, it would still be sitting in the box.

Lastly, I didn’t see a way to scale photos. Shots show up on the frame in the right proportions, but users might want to do some editing before sending shots to the frame to make them fit properly.

The remote DOES allow you to rotate shots for a better fit. That picture of the pig looked much better horizontal…until my father deleted it.

Pluses.

Depending on your level of technical expertise, you can set up an RSS feed of photos to show up on the frame. Perhaps the Astronomy Picture of the day or some other online photo feed.

And if you’re just out to have fun, you can hand the address out to the world via Twitter or Facebook and have all your friends send their shots to you or have the frame read your photo feeds from those sites.

Finally, you can schedule photos to show up on the frame which is uber-cool if you want to surprise parents with photos of their wedding or of all the kids on special occasions.

The verdict…

For $99 the Impact7 is a neat device that totally improves upon the simple digital photo frame. There’s no need to hook your camera to the frame or plug your memory card into it, just email your shots or upload them on the computer and you’re good to go.

Setup was pretty easy and the only real black mark against the product was the lack of in-box documentation.

Ultimately, it’s a perfect gift for friends and family who live far away because you can just send a photo to them as easily as sending an email…and I think it’s much more fun.


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