Cagic is new to the digital photo frame arena and its claim to fame--or at least its marketing pitch--is that it's keeping things simple while making a frame that's more stylish and better constructed than your typical digital photo frame.
The company's first offering, an 8.4-inch diagonal model that comes in three finishes (birch, mahogany, and black), has been designed by "a European-trained interior stylist using quality materials and passionate attention to detail." Silly marketing phrases aside, the Cagic frame does live up to its billing as being well designed and stylish.
That 8.4-inch LCD (800x600 resolution) is surrounded by a rather hefty wooden frame that considerably extends the dimensions of the overall frame. The frame measures 10.1 inches high by 12 inches wide by 3.2 inches deep and weighs a little more than 4 pounds. Part of the reason it weighs that much and feels as solid as it does is that its support stand and the entire back of the frame are made of metal. That's rare.
More frames these days are using what's called touch-matting technology. Touch-responsive sensors are imbedded in the matting around the frame (which is also made of metal) and you simply touch the matting in certain spots to access and navigate the onscreen interface.
That interface is elegant and fairly simple to use, but initially some people may get a little confused about where to press on the frame and what action it will illicit. In other words, it's not entirely intuitive out of the box, but once you play around with it for a bit, you will get the hang of it. There are onscreen directions, too, telling you where to tap for what. The one problem with the touch-matting style interface is that it's halfway between a true touch interface (where you can touch the screen itself) and a nontouch, hard button-style interface. This means you'll probably find yourself wanting to tap the screen instead of the matting to control the frame. We should also mention that no remote is included with this model. Not a big deal, but some frames include a small remote control.
As for features, Cagic has made an effort to keep things basic and hasn't bogged down this model with extras like MP3 and video playback capabilities and wireless connectivity. The frame does beep when you touch the matting (you can toggle the beep off if you want to), but that's as far as sound goes. The frame includes no internal memory but Cagic includes a 1GB SD memory card, which allows you to store thousands of photos. You can then upgrade to a bigger card if you want.
There are a few ways to get photos onto the frame. First, you can just take some pictures, remove the memory card from your camera, and stick it into the frame. Second, you can leave the SD card in the frame and copy photos to it from another memory card (in addition to SD and MMC, the frame accepts CF, xD, MemoryStick, MemoryStick Pro, and MemoryStick Duo), your camera, or your computer via the USB connection (an adapter is provide to go from a standard USB cable to the mini USB connection in the frame).
To maximize space, the frame automatically resizes your photos to the frame's resolution when you copy them over to the frame's SD card. We did appreciate that in the settings you'll find a few choices for how your images are resized. You can choose between Pan and Zoom (the frame determines the most interesting part of the photo and zooms in to feature this area); Fill screen with photo (the frame crops your photos so they fit perfectly on the screen--but they do get trimmed); and finally, Letterbox view (the frame shows the entire photo and adds black borders around the photo to make it fit the screen).
Beyond the resize settings, the frame offers a few slide-show customization settings, brightness, contrast, and color temperature adjustments for the LCD, and the ability to display your photos in sepia tone or black and white. You can also choose a batch of photos you want to display--or all of them. On top of that, you have the option to select all horizontal or all vertical photos, as well as by date. Swiveling the stand on the back of the frame allows you to easily switch the frame from a horizontal to a vertical position.
As for image quality, the test pictures we looked at appeared sharp with natural-looking colors. At 800x600, you're not going to get a tremendous amount of detail, but the pixel density was tight enough that it was hard to see individual pixels when you examined the screen closely.
In the final analysis, we liked Cagic's 8.4-inch digital photo frame. It's a well-built, stylish-looking frame that offers good image quality and a well-thought-out set of core features. As noted, we didn't have any major complaints about the user interface--it's fairly user friendly--but it's not idiot-proof. You can get photo frames in this size range with more features for about the same price or slightly more. But if all you're looking for is an attractive frame that can display digital photos, the frame measures up to expectations--and the competition. However, Cagic may have to shave a few bucks off the list price to gain a broader audience and secure a foothold in the market.