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Samsung SPF-72H Digital Picture Frame review: Samsung SPF-72H Digital Picture Frame

Samsung's 7-inch photo frame will look good on your desk at work--and offers good picture quality--but it's a fairly basic frame from a features standpoint.

David Carnoy Executive Editor / Reviews
Executive Editor David Carnoy has been a leading member of CNET's Reviews team since 2000. He covers the gamut of gadgets and is a notable reviewer of mobile accessories and portable audio products, including headphones and speakers. He's also an e-reader and e-publishing expert as well as the author of the novels Knife Music, The Big Exit and Lucidity. All the titles are available as Kindle, iBooks, Kobo e-books and audiobooks.
Expertise Headphones, Bluetooth speakers, mobile accessories, Apple, Sony, Bose, e-readers, Amazon, glasses, ski gear, iPhone cases, gaming accessories, sports tech, portable audio, interviews, audiophile gear, PC speakers Credentials
  • Maggie Award for Best Regularly Featured Web Column/Consumer
David Carnoy
4 min read
Samsung SPF-72H Digital Picture Frame

When Samsung enters a new market, you expect big things, but it's actually gone small with its first foray into the North American digital photo frame market. The company's SPF-72H is a 7-inch frame with a fairly basic feature set that's highlighted by 128MB of built-in memory, USB connectivity, and slots for SD/MMC, Memory Stick, and XD cards. We'd seen some reports saying that this model would also play back MP3 music, but that's apparently not the case, as the only file format our review sample supported was JPEG photos.


Samsung SPF-72H Digital Picture Frame

The Good

Attractively designed digital picture frame; decent image quality; relatively inexpensive; USB connectivity for cameras and thumbdrives; 128MB of built-in memory along with slots for SD/MMC, Memory Stick, and XD cards. Also, the firmware is upgradeable and there's an integrated clock with a timer that turns the frame's display on or off at a specific time.

The Bad

No support for compact flash cards; interface could be more intuitive; screen is pretty small; Samsung logo seems a bit large compared to frame size.

The Bottom Line

Samsung's 7-inch photo frame will look good on your desk at work--and offers good picture quality--but it's a fairly basic frame from a features standpoint.

The Samsung SPF-72H is a decent looking frame. It's predominantly white but has silver horizontal lines running across the front faceplate. If we had a minor complaint it's that the Samsung logo was a little big for our tastes--it's just a little distracting. Perhaps it's because that at 7 inches diagonal (it's a 800 x 480 widescreen display) the frame is somewhat small compared to the growing number of 10-inch and larger frames hitting the market this year. Also, if you decide to prop the frame up vertically instead of horizontally, the logo looks all the more awkward displayed on its side. That said, for the review, we kept the frame on an office desk next to a computer, and it's well-suited for displaying photos in an office setting, where you don't necessarily want a frame to dominate the room.

As noted, the SPF-72H isn't loaded with features, but it does require some navigation to get everything working properly, including adjusting the display's brightness level (we ratcheted it down a little) and setting the correct time and date of the internal clock, which acts as a screensaver when no slide show is active. It's also important to get the time right if you want to set the frame's screen to turn on--or off--at a specified time.

Samsung could stand to do a little work with the interface. It's not bad, but it's not entirely intuitive, and it'll take you a good half an hour to really get the hang of the menu system. The navigational buttons are on the side of the frame (there's no remote), and while there's nothing overcomplicated about the setup, for some reason we often ended up hitting the wrong button on the four-way directional key and either going nowhere or in the wrong direction.

The frame has 128MB of built-in memory, which is nice to have around for that core set of photos you plan on putting in a slide show rotation. In fact, the frame works best and operates most smoothly with your images stored in internal memory. You can, of course, have the frame read photos stored on external memory sources, but if you are dealing with high megapixel counts and large file sizes, the frame can be sluggish.

There are nine slide show effects to choose from (Fade, Shutter, Cross comb, Mask, Brick, Bar, Dissolve, Expansion, and Silk), as well as "random" and "none." We copied images from a memory card as well as a thumbdrive--and you can connect directly to a computer using the included USB cable. On the bottom of the frame you'll find a slot that accommodates SD, MMC, XD, and Memory Stick memory cards, but not Compact Flash cards.

Image quality was generally solid--the pictures were sharp, the colors vibrant, with good detail in darker textures and shadowy elements. We did notice some jagged edges or stair-stepping in angled and curved lines (a model's sloping shoulder, for example). This may simply be due to the native resolution of the display or might have to do with the way the frame scales the image to fit the screen. As noted, this is a wide-screen display while the majority of digital cameras shoot standard, 4:3 images.

In the end, the SPF-72H is a perfectly good frame, but it doesn't do much to distinguish itself from the growing number of frames on the market that offer similar screen resolution and, in some cases, additional features. We had an early unit, so it's possible that Samsung will make some tweaks before the frame officially hits the market (the firmware is upgradeable). However, what it really comes down to is how well the SPF-72H can compete on price. Since its $139.99 MSRP puts it well below the prices of competing frames from Philips and Kodak, this Samsung becomes a compelling choice for someone looking for a smaller digital photo frame and who doesn't need the bells and whistles of MP3 and video playback or a remote control.

Editor's note: Samsung doesn't plan to ship this product to retailers until May of this year. We were able to procure an early full-production model for this review.


Samsung SPF-72H Digital Picture Frame

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 6Performance 7