Pandigital, a veteran digital photo-frame maker, is doing its best to stand out from the competition by incorporating a variation of the familiar touch-screen interface in its new line of PanTouch digital photo frames. You might call it touch screen "lite"; rather than touching the screen, as you would do with a device like the iPhone or an ATM, you instead touch the edge or perimeter of the frame to call up a menu and navigate. In concept, it's not a bad idea. And in practice, it's not bad, either. But it does take some getting used to.
Pandigital offers 7-, 8-, and 10.4-inch PanTouch models. We reviewed the 8-incher, which represents a good middle ground when it comes to photo frames. Most 10-inch models tend to be a little out of people's price ranges and the 7-inch frames are just a little too small.
Some earlier Pandigital frames came equipped with wide-screen displays, but this model keeps things simple with a 4:3 display, the standard aspect ratio for digital images, which means you won't have to deal with any cropping issues (unless your digital camera happens to have a wide-screen mode). The resolution here is 800x600, and the frame includes an ample 512MB of built-in memory.
As is the case with a lot of these devices, there's an outside border--or, in this case, two borders--around the display, which makes it appear larger than it really is. With its traditional-looking black frame, the styling is a little ho-hum (read: generic looking), though we do appreciate that Pandigital resisted inscribing its logo on the frame itself. We're also a little disappointed the frame only ships with that single outer frame, even though you can swap in new frames.
The flip-out stand on the back lets you prop the frame both horizontally and vertically, and there are four keyhole slots around back that give you the option of mounting the frame on a wall.
On one side you'll find the power, headphone jack and brightness dial. On the other, there are slots for CompactFlash, SD/HC, MMC, xD, and Memory Stick memory cards. The PanTouch supports JPEG photos, some but not all AVI, MPEG-1, and MPEG-4 video files, and DRM-free MP3 audio files. You can choose to leave the images (or video) on the card or transfer as many will fit into the display's remaining internal memory. Another option is to upload photos from your camera or computer to the display via a USB cable.
With some earlier Pandigital frames, when transferring photos to the display's internal memory the frame didn't automatically resize the images to the size of the display, reducing their file sizes in the process. However, this frame does just that, which lets you store around 3,200 photos in built-in memory.
The frame has two separate, parallel menu systems. You access the setup menu via a remote or buttons on the top of the frame's stand. The other you access via touch.