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GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame review: GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame

GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame

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Joshua Goldman
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Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice

Josh Goldman helps people find the best laptop at the best price -- from simple Chromebooks to high-end gaming laptops. He's been writing about and reviewing consumer technology and software for more than two decades.

4 min read

The GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame (it's pronounced "genie") lives up to its name. Indeed, it is an 8-inch LCD (diagonal) that is less than half an inch deep, and does display digital pictures in a frame. If only the company had kept things that simple. Instead it loaded the display with a bunch of features that, even if you could locate them in the muddled menu system, are likely better left disabled.

5.8

GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame

The Good

Thin; reasonably priced; removable wood frame; landscape/portrait autorotation.

The Bad

Poor photo compression; confusing menu systems; only a 90-day warranty.

The Bottom Line

The GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame is a good, pop-in-a-card-and-view photo display, though the execution of its features is disappointing.

The GiiNii's chassis is almost entirely white molded plastic with a brushed silver frame surrounding the 8-inch, 800x600-resolution display. A spring-loaded wood frame is included, taking the frame from modern to more traditional with a double-matted look. The overall dimensions are 10.6 inches wide by 8.9 inches high by 0.4 inch deep, so yes, it is thinner than most digital photo frames. And though it's plastic, the back is very clean looking as the controls blend in. (An included remote has all the same buttons except for Power.) The stand attaches to the back of the frame with a giant screw, and can be left off for wall mounting.

The multiformat memory-card reader is tucked under a ledge along with the power input and a mini-USB port for connecting directly to a computer. It accepts all major card types. There is also a USB port in a well on the side for viewing images off an external drive. The frame has 128MB of built-in storage, too.

For the best picture quality you'll want to skip copying photos from a memory card directly to the frame's memory. In order to fit a lot of images into that limited amount of space, the software that's used to compress images destroys a lot of detail and turned several of my test images into a posterized, blocky mess. I recommend connecting the GiiNii to a computer and transferring images manually. It won't fit as many, but at least they'll look good.

The quality of the panel itself is OK. Colors are accurate, but it has a limited dynamic range causing a loss in shadow and highlight detail. It's also not very bright, so putting it in a sunny room could be a problem. One nice extra is the inclusion of an autorotation feature. You can turn the display from landscape to portrait and photos will automatically rotate.

There are three menu systems in the GiiNii. Hitting the Exit button while the frame displays photos drops you into a content selection screen with options to view photos (JPEG, TIF, or still GIF), listen to music (MP3 and WMA files are supported), watch AVI or MOV videos, or access a Favorite folder you can fill with selected photos.

There's also an option to set and display the frame's clock, alarm, and calendar. The clock and date are semitransparent overlays, but turning on the alarm sticks an obtrusive yellow alarm bell graphic in the top left corner. Lastly, this screen is where you enter the Setup menu for control over language, storage, contrast, brightness, system info and reset, and the frame's Smart Sleep function. In general, this is a nice feature, as it lets you set specific times you want to turn the frame on and off or you can take advantage of the built-in light sensor that puts the frame to sleep when the room goes dark. However, activating this puts yet another unsightly graphic in the left corner--in this case a series of three Zs in increasing size.

But back to the menus. While pictures display, pressing the Menu button brings up all the viewing/slide show options. This includes things such as transition effects (16 choices including random and off), picture-to-screen ratio (actual size or full frame), slide show speed, musical accompaniment options, and collage. The transitions work well enough, but adding music to a slide show puts an ugly, useless track-length indicator on the screen. If it displayed artist, album, or song title information it would at least be helpful, but it's just a countdown timer. The collage option is also pretty worthless as you get four random themed background templates (Mother's Day, Baseball, Golf, and Fishing) with cutouts in them for pictures. There's no option to display a collage without the template.

In the end, despite having a seemingly large feature set, only a few of those features are well implemented; for example, slide show transitions were good. Music sounded decent considering the single, tiny speaker, and video playback was OK, but the last thing I want to see when trying to enjoy my photos and music is a cheesy graphic and useless information. And digging through all the menus--with the remote or the controls on the frame--is just a pain.

Buyers only get a 90-day warranty from GiiNii with sales receipt from an authorized retailer, which is acceptable when a frame costs well under $100, but this one doesn't. The company gets points for its customer support as there are how-to videos, an 800 number and e-mail listed should you need help or a repair, and you can participate in a live chat Webinar with GiiNii technical teams once a week.

The GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame's saving grace is letting you quickly view pictures directly from a memory card. The frame itself is agreeable looking, even with it being mostly plastic, and the ability to easily clip on a wood frame is a nice add. But GiiNii really needs to work on polishing its features. Its price isn't quite low enough to excuse its faults.

5.8

GiiNii 8-inch Ultra-thin Digital Picture Frame

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 6Performance 5Support 6
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