On this side of the frame is the area where the unit gets it storage and connectivity. From the top we have a Compact Flash port, then it's a USB "host" port for directly connecting USB pen drives. After that we have a mini USB "device" port for connecting the frame up to your PC to access images, video and sound files from memory cards that are installed in the frame flash ports. After that we have a multi-use port that accepts XD, Memory Stick, MMC and SD memory cards. We have no exact details on which memory cards are supported, but we did use a 16GB SD card in our testing and it worked without any problems.
Moving around to the other side of the frame we see the manual controls. From top to bottom we have the up and down controls and then left and right controls and then enter and exit buttons. You will likely not need to use these buttons since AKAI throw in a handy small IR remote into the package.
For the size of this remote, the range is incredibly good. We had no issues with using the remote up to 10 meters away from the frame and it responded with fairly good accuracy. The remote includes all the controls as seen on the side of the frame and more. It adds the ability to increase and decrease volume, pause, mute, stop and more. Not bad at all!
Moving around to the back of the frame, we don't see a whole lot. You may notice the air vent holes, which are also where the two stereo speakers are. In the middle is where the stand screws into the unit.
When we actually begin to use the frame, it takes some time to show a picture and power on. There is no LED or other indication that it is actually powered on, which is a shame. After it's turned on, you get the list of menu options. And come on AKAI, surely you could have done better here! While the menu system works well and responds well, the GUI looks like it is designed well back in the last century. Also while the English is passable, it could be improved. Sentences like "No file be found", should have been checked and fixed. I guess we can deal with it though.
Depending on which memory cards you have hooked up, you will see different options in the start menu list. As we have an SD card installed, we'll go into the SD/MMC option. You use the left and right buttons on the remove to navigate. From there you can see we have more options - Movie, Music, Photo, File.
Let's check out the photo image quality first. After selecting "Photo" from the menu, it displays thumbnails of all the photos on the memory card. After hitting "enter" on the remote, it starts a slideshow of all the image. You can choose from many slideshow effects, but we decided to stick with the standard effect. Hitting exit takes you back to the thumbnails. And again hitting exit on the remote takes us back the main menu.
Now let's check out the video playback quality. After selecting move on the remote, it will show a list of movies on the memory card and after it has been loaded, as you can see, it shows you a small preview on the right side. Hitting enter on the selected movie loads the movie in full screen movie as you can see here. Video playback is smooth and looks fairly good, the speakers pump out a decent amount of volume too. Sadly it only has a viewing angle of 80 degrees in all directions with can be a little annoying at times (especially in the up and down direction), but for a digital photo frame it should be okay in most cases.
As for MP3 playback, it is basic but works pretty well. As you can see, there is a basic playlist but no fancy visualizations. On the right there is just info on the MP3 track and above it a simple volume visual. Sound quality for a device of this kind is acceptable, better than that of notebook computers, but not as good as even basic standalone PC speakers.
It has a nifty calendar feature built-into it which also shows the time in digital and on the right of the screen, it scrolls through your images with a nice phase effect. We like this part of the product quite a bit.
As far as the price goes, it is available through Audion Australia with an RRP of a rather rich $299.95 AUD or about $190 USD. We were sent a black frame sample, but it seems like only white available now. Would we pay $300 bucks for this product? To be honest, probably not. It can be found a little cheaper in shops, but not enough to change our opinion.
We don't hate this product, we just think it could be better. It is let down by a 640 x 480 resolution, sloppy menu system and English language and the viewing angle is not great. In the settings menu, there is an "Image Correction" setting which we found to be entirely useless - it only seemed to visually corrupt our images. The device is not plug n play friendly, although it does detect when a memory card has been removed. It is also let down by a slow start up time. It is let down yet again by not including any internal storage - for the price you are paying, you would think it would at least include some.
On the positive side though, it not only support images, but also a wide range of video MPEG video codecs and also MP3 audio files. It is also a great size at 10.4 inches and is easily viewable from a distance and only uses a maximum of 15 watts of power.
We give it a TweakTown rating of 65%. Give it a try if you were impressed by what you see here, otherwise we suggest you skip it and buy another.
I hope you enjoyed our first video review and check back for more later!
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