HP DreamScreen is a beautiful disappointment

The HP DreamScreen sells itself as a digital photo frame on steroids, pulling web content such as Pandora radio, Facebook updates, and Snapfish photo albums. Unfortunately, this dream doesn't have a happy ending.

As a fan of the Chumby and Sony Dash , the HP DreamScreen seemed like a natural addition to my collection of Internet-connected superscreens. HP offers two models, one with an 10-inch screen ($249), and a version with a 13-inch screen ($349) for those who live large.

Like the Sony Dash, the DreamScreen promises to be your one-stop solution for a digital photo frame, Facebook status updates, Internet radio, video player, weather reporter, and alarm clock. Unfortunately, sluggish performance and a few big bugs make the DreamScreen mostly a pain in the butt.

To HP's credit, the screen part of the DreamScreen equation is pretty solid. Oddly, it's not a touch screen, but the image quality is bright and crisp, with vivid colors and decent viewing angles. To that end, it does a nice job as a conventional digital photo frame. I was also fairly happy with the way HP handled the Pandora Internet radio app, though skipped tracks take longer to buffer than most Pandora-compatible devices we've tested.

The rest of the DreamScreen is either boring, half-baked, or broken. For example, the video player doesn't support .avi or .mov, which are fairly common formats on today's digital cameras. The music player works, but with only 2GB of built-in memory, you won't be fitting much here. You could play music files from a USB stick, but you'll lose the capability to view album artwork or sort by ID3 tag (album, artist, genre).

And then there's the DreamScreen's Facebook app, which just plain doesn't work. HP has acknowledged the bug and blames it on a change in how Facebook handles page access. Whatever the reason, having a high-profile app on the DreamScreen that doesn't work and can't be deleted is just lame.

To find out more, you can read my full review of the HP DreamScreen.

 

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