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Sony readying Wi-Fi touch-screen photo frame

A new touch-screen digital photo frame from Sony is coming soon with e-mail, Facebook, weather, and Internet radio support.

Sony's new wireless touch-screen digital photo frame.

For the last three years, two things have been missing from Sony's digital photo frame lineup in comparison to the competition: Wi-Fi connectivity and online services.

This is set to change with the upcoming introduction of the DPF-W700, a new digital photo frame by Sony. The picture display has features and synchronization with Facebook that competes in a growing market directly against Kodak and Chumby on most major U.S. retail shelves.

The W700, available in black and white, features a 7-inch touch-screen 800x480 LCD (16:9, WVGA) with LED backlighting and flick and click navigation. Compatible content include a variety of media like the usual MPEG variants and raw AVCHD files. Internal memory is fair at 1GB, but there is support for MS Pro/Duo, SD/SDHC/SDXC storage cards, and Mini-A and Mini-B USB port for thumb drive or computer connections. Included Wi-Fi support is impressive with the full range over 802.11b/g/n and networking capability.

Word of the device was actually quite random, first showing up on the Federal Communications Commission site, and then in a Google search which leads to a newly launched portal at a Sony Middle East Web site. The specifications are on full display there, confirming integration with Facebook and Sony's Personal Space file-sharing Web site. The W700 displays 100 photos per each account synced from each service, culling from recent albums, mobile uploads, and other useful directories.

Several of the W700 display options. Sony

W700's wireless capability also enables people to send e-mails to the photo frame, which can connect with any e-mail address and will display up to 100 JPEG photos that arrive via e-mail. Furthermore, the exhausting list of compatibilities brings us to the Home Network streaming, which allows computers to stream their stored photos to the display. Had enough yet? Well, there is also expanded weather information provided by AccuWeather and Internet radio support (currently not detailed).

With all that jazz, Sony might as well add an alarm clock. As for availability, the W700 has marker pages on Sony's Web sites around the world as the DPF-WA700, but there is no release date listed. It would not be preposterous to assume this yet-to-be-priced frame gets a bigger reveal at Sony's CES press event in January.

In typical Sony fashion, this is not the first instance of a product like this, as the Japanese company hit the market with an expensive (and ahead of its time) Wi-Fi-equipped digital photo frame in 2008. Sony's reentry ups the design game a bit by giving this new frame a slim look and an aluminum bezel to boot.