For my second frame review I selected what I thought would be a simple and basic digital frame when I picked Kodak’s EasyShare M820. As I mentioned in my last review, when I review a frame I don’t just set it up, add a few pictures and then start writing. I feel that if I am going to do a fair review it is important that I actually use the frame for quite a few days and dig deep into all aspects of it to understand all it is and isn’t.
The Kodak EasyShare M820 digital photo frame is a basic stand alone card reader frame. However, it is important to note that it is a bit outdated due to the fact that most new digital frames in the market are now wifi. But it is what it is, and it is still for sale in the marketplace. As a card reader frame its pictures are accessed for display directly from any media card inserted into it. And/or the frame can also be loaded with up to 1000 pictures in its 128MB internal memory.
Because frame owners tend to keep and use their frames for years, the design and build quality of a frame is important. Overall Kodak has done an adequate job with the frames physical design. The look of the frame is not too flashy and not too trendy, which allows it to blend nicely into many decors. My only critique of frame’s physical design is that the plastics Kodak selected feel and look cheap. The plastic matte, surrounding the screen, is a bit too shiny and the plastic removable faceplate frame is a bit too dull.
When it comes to image quality and screen size I think Kodak could have done better. Unfortunately this EasyShare’s 8” screen is in the less desirable and awkward wide-screen format technically referred to as the 16:9 aspect ratio (Standard digital photo format ratio is 4:3). The screen’s resolution is 800 x 480 pixels. While color rendering was good, the overall image quality is not the clearest when compared to other frames. When looking at pictures being displayed on the Kodak frame I couldn’t help but think that they looked like someone had smeared a super thin coat of Vaseline over them. I also found that when viewing pictures at a 45° angle and less the picture darkened considerably.
Up until now it could be argued that my critique of this frame is a subjective opinion. So while opinion is one thing, experience is another. It was only after loading nearly 550 pictures, some video and music files in to the frame did my frustration level rise to the point that I wanted to box the thing back up and “just take it back.”
Major Points of Frame Frustration:
- Picture organized on a PC in a file, sub-file and sub-sub-file order become a management nightmare when moved over to the M820’s internal memory. The ability to maneuver through files and sub-files, with the intent to select pictures for Slideshow viewing, is quite confusing and nearly impossible on the frame.
- If the frame loses power you will lose the selections you made for Slideshow viewing and have to start all over again.
- Images can be rotated for correct display; however, you will lose the rotation if power is lost. Also even though the image rotates the thumbnail continues to remain sideways.
- The frame only shows pictures in .jpg format. Image files in the .bmp and .gif format will need to be reformatted for display in this frame.
- Photos can be enlarged with a built-in tool called “Zoom.” However, you cannot lock a picture to a zoomed in view. The zoom view is lost once you move off the picture and on to the next. Also you never get an unobstructed view of a zoomed picture. When zoomed in the picture is covered with menu buttons, zoom bar adjustment buttons and the photo’s title bar.
- There is a brightness adjustment built into the frame… however, when the tool is opened up a gray screen with the brightness level indicator bar drops over the image masking the actual image you have selected to judge your brightness adjustment on. Therefore you have to make the adjustment, and then back out of 2 menus to finally see the adjusted picture and check to see if the change is correct. The process of going in and out must be repeated until you are satisfied.
- The frame comes with Kodak EasyShare Software. However, this software actually loads as two completely separate programs that do NOT communicate to each other. Photos edited and/or “decorated” in one program must be saved and then reopened in the Kodak Digital Display software that acts as a photo management tool and linking software connecting the PC to the actual frame.
- The photo management tool built into the software allows you to build a Slideshow and place photos in a specific viewing order, however the frame will not recognize or display in that order.
- While the Slide Duration view time was set to 5 seconds per picture, the actual viewing time varied anywhere from 7 to 10 seconds. This does not include the time it takes to transition out of one picture and into the next.
- Slideshows put together in the software and activated in the frame would play. However, Slideshows created by selecting multiple photos stored in the internal memory would not play.
- Even when a slideshow was playing an error message stating “Pictures & video could not be found” was displayed on the Slideshow Info bar.
- Specific music files built into a Slideshow do not automatically play when the Slideshow is playing. Figuring out just how to get them to play is not a simple process. However, once playing the Slideshow specific music does not automatically turn off once the source for image display reverts back to the images stored in internal memory.
- The “Fade” transition function would not work consistently. Dissolve, pixilation, and boxing transitions would also randomly occur when “Fade” was selected as the transition type.
- Music Files loaded in the internal memory seemed to have disappeared, but were finally found in a file labeled “Images.”
- While the frame does have ability play audio, don’t expect much from the two extremely small (about 3/4 inches round) speakers located on the bottom of the backside.
I fought this frame for days… trying simply to set it up to store pictures, video and music files and then run a short Slideshow. While working with it I constantly found problems, inconsistencies and conflicts. It simply is not user friendly. Searching to find solutions I read the 28 page User Guide in its entirety… more than once. Not finding answers in the User’s Guide I then went online to www.kodak.com /go/digitalframesupport for more help. There I found the “Extended User Guide” which was basically the same information as the User’s Guide with a little more info on how to use the software. I also tried to using the “Interactive Trouble Shooting & Repairs” tool. But this was no help either… too generalized.
At one point I even chatted with Kodak tech support for over 1 hour and 40 minutes trying to resolve the error message that had popped up on the screen. That message was, “Source Folder moved/deleted. Recreate folder and Update my slideshow.” To resolve the problem the Kodak technician twice guided me through the process of reformatting the frame’s internal drive. But this did not help. I finally got rid of the error message when on my own accord I simply unplugged the frame. When I told the technician what I did to solve the problem and who had earlier stated he “…was supporting frames for almost 2 years now,“ then said “All we need to do is to play with the frame to familiarize ourselves with the options.”
FINAL VERDICT: To sum it all up I have to say that I would never personally own or give this Kodak EasyShare M820 Frame of Frustration to anyone.