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Kodak EasyShare W1020 Wireless Digital Frame review: Kodak EasyShare W1020 Wireless Digital Frame

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We recently reviewed Kodak's cutting-edge OLED Wireless Frame, which costs a whopping $1,000. That model has a 7.6-inch screen; it's pretty spectacular, but for $800 less you can step down to the more reasonable 8.2-inch EasyShare W820 or the 10.2-inch EasyShare W1020. While these models use standard LCD screens and don't have the slick cosmetics--or impressive build quality--of the OLED frame, their feature sets are virtually identical, plus they offer support for all memory cards, not just SD cards.

OVR
8.0

Kodak EasyShare W1020 Wireless Digital Frame

The Good

Relatively large screen area; solid display quality; built-in Wi-Fi; zippy performance; easy to set up; supports MP3 and video playback.

The Bad

Cheap plastic frame; no remote; Mac owners can't wirelessly connect to their computers.

The Bottom Line

Kodak may have cut some corners on the build quality of the EasyShare W1020 Wireless Digital Frame, but it offers decent image quality, performance, and a strong feature set for the money.

Some digital photo frames have real wood or metal finishes, but this is strictly a plastic affair. With its simple black border, the frame looks elegant enough from afar and comes with a red and a silver stick-on matte that allow you to customize the frame's look. The kickstand on the back swivels, giving you the option of locking the frame into landscape (horizontal) or portrait (vertical) orientation. On the back of the frame there are keyhole slots for mounting the frame to a wall with screws, along with a threaded tripod mount if you want to prop it up with a tripod.

The frame is loaded with features. For starters, it comes with 512MB of internal memory and built-in Wi-Fi. That 512MB allows you to store about 4,000 images resized to the frame's 800x480 resolution (the images will automatically resize when you copy them to the frame if you select that option from the settings menu). But if you want to show off more photos, the frame accepts all memory cards, including CompactFlash, MemoryStick, SD/SDHC, and xD-Picture cards. There's also a USB connector for plugging in thumbdrives (or your camera).

This frame, like several other new frames, uses a Touch Border interface; you touch the bezel to access menus and settings. With this frame, the various touch points along the bottom and right side of the frame light up when you touch the bezel. We're not sure about the whole touch-panel concept, but Kodak's is one of the best implementations we've seen, particularly because the touch points are sensitive and the frame is very responsive.

That's another one of the frame's strong points: the performance is quite good. Even photos with large file sizes load quickly, and menus open and close with limited lag. This is a zippy frame.

Obviously the wireless connectivity plays a key role. Once you connect to your Wi-Fi network (you input any security keys through a virtual keyboard) and install the Kodak EasyShare desktop software on your Windows PC, you can wirelessly transfer photos from your computer to the frame. You can also access photos you've stored on your online Kodak Gallery account, as well as access friends' albums that are linked to your account. You can also tap into Flickr and FrameChannel and subscribe to Photo RSS feeds. FrameChannel also provides RSS feeds for news, weather, and sports scores. Mac users can't transfer photos from their PCs to the frame wirelessly, but they can take advantage of all the online services. The interface isn't quite Apple-like, but it is pretty easy to use. No major complaints there.

The more standard features such as slide show transitions and the aforementioned automatic image resizing are also present and accounted for, and this model, like all of Kodak's wireless frames, plays back most videos (MOV, AVI, MPEG-1, and MPEG-4) shot with popular digital still cameras. However, the frame will not display video from Flip Video cameras.

We did experience some glitchy, frustrating behavior, though. For example, despite setting the entire slide show transition to Fade or Wipe, the frame continued to randomly mix in other transitions. Furthermore, when we tried to delete the current movie, it displayed the name of the previous image, and we had to delete the image in order to get the movie name to display.

As for image quality, no, this LCD can't deliver the same eye-popping color and contrast of the OLED frame, but it's quite good. At 800x480, the image may not be razor sharp and you'll see some slight stair-stepping on curved edges and diagonal lines, like on leaves. The colors look pretty natural, and though blacks may not be terribly deep, there's enough dynamic range in the midtones to render sufficient detail in shadows. While the sound quality from the tinny internal speakers isn't great--you can play MP3 files as background music for your slide shows--it's passable.

All in all, we liked this frame, and think it strikes a good balance between performance, image quality, features, and cost. If you want to save a little dough, you can step down to the smaller W820, but for a lot of people, the extra real-estate of the Kodak EasyShare W1020's screen will be worth the extra cost.