Digital photo frames have arrived

CES coverage: a variety of digital photo frames

Kodak EasyShare digital photo frames

Now that digital photography is a ubiquitous part of family life, digital photo frames are emerging as a hot new device for displaying and sharing memories. Not only can you set a frame to run through a dynamic slide show, but you can send photos remotely to a loved one's frame.

I had a chance to preview three lines yesterday: Kodak, Cevia, and Smartparts. All of them delivered beautiful images and they each have differentiating features that may be a deciding factor for you.

Kodak: The Kodak EasyShare frames themselves are beautiful, with new optional interchangeable faceplates. It's nice to see the frames evolving a decorative style. Most models accept memory cards and also have 128 MB of internal memory. My qualifying question for a digital frame is, "Can I set it up easily and give it to Grandpa?" and these fit the bill. I was intrigued by the remote sharing option Kodak has as well: if you upload your latest photos to the online Kodak Gallery, you can use a Picture Mail service to update photos on WiFi-enabled frames, including the one at Grandpa's house on the other side of the country. [Read the most recent CNET editor review]

Ceiva: The Ceiva frames have one additional service option that is worth considering for the most technophobic family members. It can connect to a normal phone line, using a line splitter, and then every night it will place a local call to access and download photo updates. This does cost $6.95 a month after the first year, but it's nice to know that there is a "set it and forget it" service option that can reach family members who do not have computers in their homes.

Other Cevia models have high-tech features including WiFI and a service that allows you to show news, weather, and sports content on the picture frame. [CNET editor review]

Smartparts OptiPix and SyncPix: These frames can automatically optimize the orientation and cropping of photos, directly from the media card. And one of the models actually contains a dye-sublimation printer so that you can print snapshots right from the frame. This was a cool feature an the prints looked quite good. Smartparts also makes the largest digital frame, a 32" model for $899. Pricey, but would be wonderful for a professional photographer, commercial decor such as hotel lobby, or consumer connoisseur.

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