HP 8-inch Digital Picture Frame (Espresso Wood) review:

HP 8-inch Digital Picture Frame (Espresso Wood)

The menu structure is very easy to navigate. Pressing Menu twice brings up the selection of source media. The top level presents you with five options: Photo, Music, Video, Time, and Setup. The first three allow you to select from those files; it supports JPEG photos, MP3 audio, and MPEG-1, MPEG-4, and Motion JPEG video. This covers the bases for what most owners of this type of frame would need. Time pulls up a moderately customizable four-quadrant display with a clock, calendar, and a two-photo slideshow. You can set an alarm as well as power on/off times for the frame.

Setup options include language (English plus a handful of European options); full or cropped photo display; a few slideshow transition effects, though none is not an option; slideshow speed and shuffle; and digital matting, where it overlays various designs on the periphery of your photos. If there's music, you can set it to automatically play as background music for a slideshow; keep in mind that the files will play alphabetically.

Like many of its 8-inch competitors, the DF820 uses a 4:3 aspect ratio 800x600-resolution LCD display. The display quality looks pretty typical as well. It's OK from a distance, but a bit soft. Because of the limited dynamic and color range of the displays, skin tones render a bit off--either too cool or too warm--and highlights get clipped. But given all that, there's surprisingly little color contouring or jaggies on diagonal lines. And like most LCD frames, when positioned vertically the off-axis viewing angle on one side maxes out at about 25 degrees before the picture inverts or disappears.

However, performance is pretty good. Video plays back smoothly and even large photos load and transition fairly rapidly without artifacts. The speakers aren't great, tinny and not very loud, but they're not bad for the price. Also not bad for the price: the warranty. Most frames under $200 offer 90-day parts and labor, but this one provides a full year of coverage.

For its low price, the HP DF820 8-inch Digital Photo Frame delivers quite a lot of value, and with the large buttons, big icons, and easy operation is especially suited for the stereotypical senior or technophobic giftee.

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