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Toshiba DMF82XU 8-inch Digital Media Frame review: Toshiba DMF82XU 8-inch Digital Media Frame

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Digital frames can be divided into two categories: connected digital media frames and digital photo frames. The Toshiba DMF82XKU 8-inch Digital Media Frame, is--surprise--one of the former. It easily connects to a Wi-Fi network for access to photo collections from a variety of online sources as well as letting you enjoy music and video via its card slots and USB ports. The Toshiba Digital Media Frame should satisfy those doing a majority of their photo viewing from social-networking and photo-sharing Web sites, but if you're not living a "connected" lifestyle, get something else or wait for Toshiba's next round of frames.

OVR
6.8

Toshiba DMF82XU 8-inch Digital Media Frame

The Good

Attractive design; good support for files, memory cards; easy Wi-Fi setup process.

The Bad

FrameChannel support issues; wide screen not ideal for photos; frame attracts fingerprints.

The Bottom Line

The Toshiba DMF82XKU 8-inch Digital Media Frame is a decent photo-viewing choice for Picasa, Facebook, and Flickr fans, but the overall package could use some polish and probably a firmware update.

The frame has a high-end modern-electronics look to it. It's a 16:9 wide-screen display with an 800x480-pixel resolution, so unless you're shooting photos in that aspect ratio (cameras generally default to 4:3), your photos will be cropped and stretched to fill the display. You can choose to view full photos, too, but then you'll have black bars around pictures.

On back are stereo speakers; card slots for SD/SDHC, MMC, Memory Stick/Memory Stick Duo, and xD cards; USB and miniUSB 2.0 ports; and a headphone jack. Plus, you can connect a multislot USB memory-card reader and the frame will recognize and read from up to five memory cards (though I couldn't get this to work). A simple support screws into the back letting you stand it in landscape or portrait positions and an autorotation sensor adjusts photos accordingly. Toshiba put its branding on back of the glossy black body, too, keeping it from looking too much like the company's TVs. The entire chassis is a fingerprint magnet, though, and it doesn't help that most of the frame's controls are touch sensitive. Simply running a finger in front of the right side of the frame lights them up. The controls are sensitive enough that you can minimize fingerprints by using a very light touch. Or you can use the remote control.

The included remote has all the same options as the frame's touch controls as well as some extras making navigating content and settings easier. A Slideshow Style button, for example, lets you pick from six transition types: Music and Photos, Blend, Horizontal Shutter, Stack, Snap Shot, and the poorly named Erase, which is actually a left-to-right wipe. Most of these are photo-frame standards, though Snap Shot is somewhat unique in that it displays photos in Polaroid-like frames pinned to a corkboard background with times and dates of when they were taken. On the remote control are also buttons for rotating images, switching to clock/calendar mode, zooming in on photos, and viewing thumbnails or music files (it can't see folders, unfortunately).

The menus are reasonably straightforward lists with only an occasionally unclear name. Toshiba put Menu, Options, and Mode buttons on the remote, too, which can get confusing if you don't know what you're looking for or can't remember what to press for a particular function. Menu is for general settings, while Mode is for accessing different media types as well as all of the same stuff the single-function buttons do, and Options is for displaying photo info or saving a photo to the frame's 1GB of memory. Sacrificing one of these for a direct link to the online services would be welcomed.

Connecting the frame to a wireless network is fairly painless, even if you have to input everything manually. If you have a Wi-Fi router or access point with a Wi-Fi Protected Setup button (WPS), the configuration can be done automatically. While the network access can't be used for pulling content from network computers or storage devices, it allows for access to up to three Picasa accounts and a FrameChannel account, both of which are free. FrameChannel gives you access to Facebook and Flickr photos in addition to your own photos uploaded to the site. The service also comes with an e-mail address so friends and family can send you photos to instantly add to your frame. There is other content available through FrameChannel, too, such as popular blogs, comics, news, sports, and weather, and you can adjust how often you see content from all your channels. You can also create and view custom photo and text RSS feeds. However, I never could get any of the text-based channels to show up, regardless of settings. (Note: During testing, use of FrameChannel would cause the frame to inexplicably crash, forcing a reset with the frame's power button. Thankfully, the frame starts up reasonably fast.)

File support on the Toshiba is above average. Images can be in JPEG, BMP (800x480), and TIFF (800x480). Music can be in either MP3 or WMA, and MPEG-1, -2, and -4 videos can be viewed, too, with MPG and MPEG extensions. (Contrary to what the manual says, it does not support AVI files.) Unsurprisingly, DRM-protected files cannot be played back.

Performance is generally very good. Slides transition smoothly and menus are responsive with an average delay of 1 second when using the remote control. Video played without any issues as well, and though the speakers are tinny sounding, they're sadly on par with most digital-frame speakers. The color, contrast, and brightness are all fine, though it would be nice if there were some fine controls for color. Viewing angles on the Toshiba are decent, too, with only slight changes in brightness off to the sides, top, and bottom.

Toshiba includes only a 90-day warranty on its digital media frames. This is standard for the industry, but that doesn't make it right. The included manual is comprehensive, but should you need customer support, the company does have a toll-free phone number and an e-mail address available on its site.

OVR
6.8

Toshiba DMF82XU 8-inch Digital Media Frame

Score Breakdown

Design 7Features 8Performance 6Support 6