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eMotion Multimedia Digital Picture Frame and DVD Player review: eMotion Multimedia Digital Picture Frame and DVD Player


Identity crisis notwithstanding, there's plenty to commend here. The DF-EM2 is relatively slim--measuring 8.6 inches long by 6.2 inches high and just over 1 inch thick, and weighing 2.1 pounds with the battery attached. The wide-screen LCD measures 7 inches diagonally. With a resolution of just 480x234, it's hardly the sharpest screen of its size we've seen, but it's decent enough, and--after a few adjustments--we were satisfied with the picture quality of the test DVDs we watched. For still photos, we felt the higher-resolution Philips Digital Photo Display 7FF1 did a better job. Yet the DF-EM2's image quality was still higher than some of the "off-brand" photo frames we've reviewed (the Westinghouse DPF-0701 and the Royal PF80, for instance) and audio played sufficiently loud from the player's small speaker.


eMotion Multimedia Digital Picture Frame and DVD Player

The Good

The Media Street DF-EM2 is both a portable DVD player and digital photo frame, complete with expansion slots for a Memory Stick, SD/MMC memory cards, and USB devices. With the optional carrying case kit, you can strap the player to the back of a car headrest. We also liked the unit's svelte design, and that you can change the player's faceplates.

The Bad

The digital photo frame functionality is rudimentary. There's no slot for CompactFlash cards, and no built-in memory for storing images.

The Bottom Line

While the Media Street DF-EM2 effectively combines a portable DVD player and digital photo frame into one multipurpose device, we wish photo display functionality was better.
The Media Street DF-EM2 eMotion Multimedia Digital Picture Frame DVD Player is one of those hybrid products we have a hard time classifying in our database. Part digital photo display, part portable DVD player, the DF-EM2 at $299 packs a lot of functionality into a relatively compact package. To be sure, the idea of adding video playback to a photo frame makes a lot of sense. But there's just one problem: as nice a job as Media Street has done with the DF-EM2's exterior design, this is ultimately a portable DVD player dressed up to look like a digital photo frame.

Media Street has done a good job designing the DF-EM2 to look like a photo frame yet act like a portable DVD player. To prop up the frame, you simply attach the rechargeable battery pack to the back of the unit and--since the pack has rubber feet on both its bottom and side--you can easily shift the frame from standing horizontally to standing vertically. One questionable design decision was the placement of the power adapter inputs: Media Street opted for two inputs on alternating sides of the device, one for when it's horizontal, and one for when it's vertical. While the flexibility is nice, a single input on the back of the device would have seemed a better solution.

Compared to other portable DVD players, the DF-EM2 is fairly loaded, but there are several players in this price range that offer larger screens and similar features. We've reviewed players from Audiovox and Mustek that comes with a memory card slot, USB connectivity, and DivX playback support. The DF-EM2 also comes with a cigarette lighter adapter for charging in a vehicle; if you buy the optional eMotion carrying case kit, you can strap the unit to the back of a car headrest for backseat viewing.

We liked that the DF-EM2 has plenty of picture adjustment options, such as brightness, contrast, sharpness, color, and tint. You can also swap the frame's faceplate for a new one. The device comes with two frames--one, matte silver and the second, mirrored--yet more are available for purchase. (It's worth mentioning that we had to change faceplates when watching movies as the mirrored frame was distracting.) There is also a small remote that offers a decent amount of wireless control. The device's battery life is rated at 2.5 hours (yet we managed get closer to 3 hours during testing) for DVD watching.

Overall, the DF-EM2 performs well as a DVD player but leaves something to be desired as a photo frame. Similar to other multimedia-capable portable DVD players (we consider the Audiovox and Mustek players in this group), the photo display capabilities of the DF-EM2 are more a well-meaning afterthought than main attraction. For example, you can playback photos sequentially in a slide-show format, but you can't set intervals or transitions between images--and the slide show can't loop. To make up for this deficiency, Media Street includes ArcSoft's DVD Slide Show software, which allows you to create your own slide shows on a Windows PC and then burn them to DVD. That's all well and good, but we'd prefer if the player itself had real slide-show functionality.

The DF-EM2 eMotion Multimedia Digital Picture Frame DVD Player is a decent device that doesn't quite measure up to its even-better concept. But that concept is definitely an appealing one, and we expect to see more combination photo frames/video players as the category evolves. If you're interested in a portable DVD player that you can stick on your desk and turn into a photo frame when it's not playing DVDs, the DF-EM2 is a good option. But if you're looking for a quality digital photo frame too, you should probably keep searching--or wait until Media Street (or some other manufacturer) creates a more perfect union.


eMotion Multimedia Digital Picture Frame and DVD Player

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 7Performance 6