Digital photo frames are often criticized by technology gurus for being simple and mundane gadgets. If this is so it causes me to wonder how some manufactures still can make them so exasperating.
Wanting to get the full consumer experience I recently purchased Pandigital frame from a local electronics superstore for review. From the box I learned that 7” Pandigital frame has the following features: 1GB Internal Memory that holds up to holds up to 6400 images, LCD display, 4:3 Aspect Ratio, SD/MS/MS-PRO/MMC/XD Card Reader compatibility, remote control, alarm clock, calendar, programmable ON/Off timer, audio, video and is both bluetooth and WiFi compatible.
While I selected the Pandigital PAN7000DW specifically for its WiFi function, I was soon to learn that getting WiFi was not going to be easy. While the frame’s box was quick to communicate that it is WiFi compatible, only after reading through the instruction manual did I learn that the generic WiFi adaptor I also bought for it would not work. Buried deep in the user’s manual, which is sealed in the frame’s box, are instructions to specifically buy a Pandigital WiFi adaptor… which, inconveniently, only can be purchased online for $23.99.
With a suggested list price of $99.99 the frame, the Pandigital PAN7000DW has a nice crisp picture will integrate with a variety of home interior styles. However the physical design of the frame has some serious flaws including:
- The piece of glass that nests in the plastic frame is not secured and therefore could be broken if one is not careful.
- The adjustable foot is “light weight” and feels like it could snap and break when compared to the way the rest of the frame is constructed.
- The single speaker’s volume was barely audible, sounding almost as if the speaker was blown.
- The remote control, when stored on the back of the frame, totally covers the speaker and further muffles the sound.
- The WiFi adaptor hangs off the side in clear site instead of being hidden.
I also found some glitches with the internal functions of the Pandigital Frame including:
- The clock’s 1/8th inch high numeric readout is very difficult to read.
- There is no “snooze” functionality built into the alarm clock.
- Fading from picture to picture in a slideshow was jumpy.
- When Zoom function was engaged, the top of the picture as obstructed with a ½ inch darkened band that displayed the image’s file name, time and date.
- The “back/previous” picture review function would not work.
- There was an approximate 10 second delay from the time on pressed the zoom button to the actual zoomed up image being displayed.
- Music files, loaded to internal memory, would NOT play when viewing a slideshow either streamed via WiFi or from an external memory card.
While I found the glitches, hiccups and design snafus of the Pandigital PAN7000DW a bit annoying; setting up the WiFi connectivity was exasperating.
Before I go into details, let’s be clear about WiFi connectivity in digital frame. A WiFi can be configured to communicate out through a router, over the internet and directly into a photo hosting website and/or it can be set to connect and pull pictures right off a local PC.
So while tedious and time consuming, I did find setting up WiFi connectivity to the 3 compatible photo hosting sites (Windows Frame It, SnapFish and Picasa) on the Internet was easy.
However, setting up the WiFi connectivity so that the frame could display pictures stored on a PC was SUPER exasperating. First off, the instructions guiding one to set up a Universal Plug and Play (UPnP) Server, published in Pandigital’s owner’s manual, are minimal and wrong. A 25 minute call to Pandigital Customer support finally resulted in some guidance that helped. The polite support tech told me that while he had never actually set up this type of WiFi connectivity he assured me all that needed to be done was to make sure that the desired image files were being “shared” in Windows Media Player 11 and “the frame would do the rest.” So after spending some time fiddling, futzing and tweaking I finally got it to work. Well, it worked yesterday. Today is a whole new day and for some reason the Pandigital frame has lost its WiFi connection to the PC and the files it displayed yesterday. Why doesn’t it see the files it saw yesterday? I am not sure as nothing was changed.
After spending hours, reading manuals, searching the internet for solutions, reading online support information, being on hold, talking to customer support and then trial and error tweaking to get it to work yesterday I give up. I don’t have the time to figure out NOW what is going wrong. At this point this mundane Pandigital frame is just another lost cause and I am resigned to be another exasperated consumer.