The Coby brand is synonymous with budget-priced equipment, which is the polite way we electronics reviewers go about describing cheap gear--and the company's 10.2-inch DP-102 digital photo frame is indeed cheap compared to competing products with similar screen sizes. This model also happens to boast a wide-screen display rather than the more standard 4:3 aspect ratio. However, screen shape aside, what's surprising about this Coby frame is that it actually gets a lot of things right and its image quality isn't half bad.
More and more digital frames are mimicking the look of the display on Apple's original iMac flat-panel all-in-one computers. This Coby's cosmetics aren't as slick as that of Philips photo frames (its plastics just aren't of the same quality), but stand a few feet away and it looks just fine, with a clear acrylic frame around a black or white faceplate that surrounds the 8.75 x 5.25-inch (10.2-inch diagonal) LCD panel. While you can go with white--the faceplates are interchangeable--images tend to look a little better framed by a black border. The flip-out stand on the back allows you to prop the frame up horizontally or vertically (again, the stand feels a little cheap, but it seems to get the job done okay) and there are keyhole slots on the back of the frame that give you the option of mounting the DP-102 on a wall with a few screws (not included).
The frame ships with interchangeable black and white faceplates.
The 800x480 display has some memory built into it, but it appears to be reserved for a set of wide-screen stock images that act as a sort of screensaver when you leave the frame on for a while but don't do anything. In fact, when you turn on the frame, the first thing you're greeted with is a message telling you to plug in a memory card. On the side of the frame you'll find clearly labeled slots for Compact Flash, SD, MMC, xD, and Memory Stick memory cards, as well as a USB port for thumbdrives, which gives you the ability to display hundreds, if not thousands, of photos. However, if you use one of the new, high-capacity SDHC cards you're out of luck, since the frame doesn't recognize them. You can play back MP3 files during a slide show (there are two small speakers built into the back of the frame) and according to the promotional text on the side of box the product ships in, the DP-102 is supposed to play AVI and MPEG 4 video files "from most cameras." More on that in a minute.
In addition to reading photos and music from all standard flash media cards, the DP-102 can also accept hook-ups from USB flash drives.
All in all, we found the DP-102's interface fairly straightforward and the frame itself is easy to get up and running. To play a slide show, you simply select a photo from a memory card or flash drive, hit the enter button (either on the remote or on the frame itself), then click the slide show button on the remote (or simply hold the "enter" button on the remote), and the show starts. There are seven slide show effects to choose from (fade, shutter, cross comb, Mask, Brick, Dissolve, and Bar), as well as random and none.
The frame does have a few quirky issues. For instance, there's an option for copying an image, but there doesn't appear to be any internal memory, so all you can do is copy between cards, or between cards and thumbdrives. Also, we were unable to get the frame to play back any of the AVI or MPEG4 files we threw at it, including video captured using Canon and Casio digital cameras. We suspect that it will play back videos shot with some cameras, but certainly not most--so proceed at your own risk when it comes to video. (We would have fiddled around with the aspect ratio--there's a button on the remote for switching between 4:3 and--but since we couldn't get any videos to play, we never got a chance to see if it worked).
This small remote is included with the frame.
Because of its reputation as a budget brand, we didn't expect that much from the display in terms of image quality, but this turned out to be one of the areas where the Coby acquitted itself surprisingly well. Whites got blown out a little, but that's a minor gripe. All in all, images were pretty sharp with fairly accurate colors and good detail in darker areas. Since most of your photos won't be in a wide-screen aspect ratio, you'll get black bars on either side of your image. A handful but increasing number of digital cameras offer wide-screen image capture, but for now, the advantage to having the 16:9 HDTV-like display is fairly limited. True, with the wide-screen, you're able to see more thumbnail images on the screen at one time, but to a certain extent, the extra screen real estate is wasted.
There isn't much more to say about the Coby DP-102. Overall, this is a fairly basic frame that offers decent image quality and few extra features, one of which (video playback) doesn't work as well as it should. If the frame had cost $200, we'd have been a little harder on it, but at around $140 online, this isn't a bad deal.