gadg-et-oid [gaj-it-oid]


1. having the characteristics or form of a gadget;
resembling a mechanical contrivance or device.

Samsung SPF-105P Digital Photo Frame Reviews

I take a look at the Samsung SPF-105P digital photo frame. I’ve always thought of digital photo frames as somewhat of a stop-gap technology. A holdover until we have a display technology so compact and so ubiquitous that, to many of us, printing our photos becomes a lost, dark art, much like writing with a pen and paper.

And, indeed, they are. The idea of dedicating an entire device to the purpose of displaying photos on display technology not particularly renown for its quality and accuracy is preposterous, but we do it anyway because we’re all geeks at heart and love the chance to throw technology at everything, even if it’s not the optimum solution.

The Samsung SPF-105P is a particularly good example of a digital photo frame, ticking all the right boxes required of its product category and sporting a handy additional feature which would be all the more handy if it wasn’t terribly implemented. I’ll get back to that later, first lets see how it works as a photo frame.

The SPF-105P sports a large, clear and bright display, a whopping 10 inches in fact. It’s a little wider than the iPad, and the display is a approximately 16:9, or 1024×600. It’s got a reasonably decent viewing angle along its horizontal plane in landscape mode, but if you turn it into portrait mode you’ll soon find out that the vertical viewing angle is abysmal meaning use in this orientation is pretty much out of the question, unless you can cleverly place the photo frame.

Above: Look up from the bottom and this is what you get. Colour inversion ahoy!

The screen is not touch screen, which is a pain but seems to be common with digital photo frames (a cost saving measure, I’d bet). In lieu of touch screen and, in fact, hardware buttons the SPF-105P has opted for touch sensitive buttons which appear when you tape the right hand side of the frame. This is a very tidy way of incorporating controls into the front, where they’re easier to see and access. When the buttons aren’t lit up, there’s not even the slightest indication that they are present. Suffice to say, the SPF-105P is beautifully designed and solidly constructed. Leagues ahead of the low-end, cheap photo frames out there.

Another winning feature of the Samsung SPF-105P is the batter. Yup. You read that correctly. Contained within the rather bulky confines of this particular digital photo frame is a battery good for, wait for it, a staggering one hour. Yes, 1 hour. Okay, so you’re not going to be taking the SPF-105P anywhere, or running it on battery for any length of time, but it’s handy if you want to grab the device and sit on the sofa viewing a slideshow of family photos. Otherwise it’s quite perplexing how they managed to get such a spectacularly short battery life.

Above: The light up buttons are very well thought-out, but the UI is far too fiddley to use comfortably.

The frame has 1GB of built in memory, and a compliment of stock photos to show off the screen. It also has the ability to play music, but no music tracks onboard to try it out of the box. The stereo speakers deliver reasonable sound, but the lack of a remote and the fiddley, if pretty, front controls make this a very poor choice for a music player.

There’s a USB port for thumb drives, a Compact Flash slot and an SD card slot to cover a fairly full spectrum of digital cameras. The features, screen, fiddley controls, and lack of video playback make this device really just a digital photo frame so it’s nice to have a range of connectivity options.

The final, and poorly implemented feature of the SPF-105P is why you, and many others, are probably interested in it. The ability to work as a USB-connected, mini monitor. Sadly this functionality is horribly implemented, using Samsung’s proprietary drivers and protocol. It works on windows only, is slow as molasses and really, definitely, positively is not a reason to buy this photo frame. Seriously! You’ll be much better off with a Mimo USB monitor.

So that pretty much wraps up the Samsung SPF-105P. It’s a brilliant, beautifully designed photo frame with lovely hidden controls and a big, vibrant screen. Sadly the poor viewing angle eliminates use in portrait mode, there’s no video playback. and the controls make playing any music, outside of a straight up list, completely unworkable and unnecessarily fiddley. Buy it if you want a good photo frame, go elsewhere for any other reason.

Wednesday, May 12th, 2010, Digital Photography.