CES - MemoryFrame makes digital displays easy

Pacific Digital's new MemoryFrame MF570 digital photo display, unveiled at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas, may be the answer to the pesky problem of getting photos onto your wall or desk without the bother of prints or expensive subscription plans.

The US$329 device competes with similar products from several vendors, including Ceiva and VideoChip. It runs a slide show of up to 55 photos in a 5.6-inch active matrix TFT LCD display inside a 5-by-7-inch frame. Photos loaded into the device are automatically sized to display properly.

The included software also lets you set the time between photo changes, and can provide transitions between pictures. The MemoryFrame also provides controls that permit you to adjust the image's contrast.

The company released the product to major US retailers in early December. An 8-by-10-inch model is also in development for release this (Northern) spring, representatives said here at CES.

Simple Setup

Using the device is simplicity itself. You simply connect a USB cable from your camera directly to the MemoryFrame, or connect via USB from your PC to transfer the images. Most people are likely to do initial downloads from a PC because the included PixMaster software lets you create slide shows for presentation in the MemoryFrame.

Then you untether the product from the cable and display it on a wall or desk. The device uses a 486-MHz processor, operates on Linux, and must be plugged into a wall socket with an AC adapter.

The USB method of downloading photos to the frame is the product's big advantage over competitors, says E. Chuck Ouellette, a Pacific Digital spokesperson.

"Some have tried subscription models where you connect a display to the Internet with a phone line and modem, while others have had slots for memory cards. Both methods have serious disadvantages," he said. "Everyone has a USB port, and that makes it easy to create your slide show in the PC and then drop in what you want into the MemoryFrame."

Ouellette says another advantage is that the actual frame surrounding the device is a stock 5-by-7-inch design, found in many stores. "These are totally stock, so if you want something to match your decor it's easy and inexpensive."