by Brad Nelson 4/11/17
I like taking photographs. But once taken, what do you do with them? You can print them on a photo printer, but I’ve found inkjet printers to be problematic, at best. Unless you’re constantly using them, they tend to dry out. Intermittent use means you spend a lot of expensive ink on numerous “cleaning cycles” that these printers seem to obsess on — assuming that these cycles actually work. Often they don’t. That gets expensive and frustrating. It is typical for an inkjet printer to work well when new and then quickly degrade.
After having had many bad experiences with Epson inkjet printers, I had declared “never again.” But a Canon printer had caught my eye. It was about in my price range ($244.00) and could do large prints (paper sizes up to 13” x 19”). Per print cost at this size (all things factored in) is about $4.00, which certainly beats the cost of a professional online service. And the reviews were good.
But a little voice inside my said reminded me, “Never again.” But I wanted a way to enjoy the photos I’ve taken, if only as further inspiration to take more. Buried on the hard drive is not an effective use of them.
Well, I thought, perhaps electronic photo frames are no longer just for grandma. I investigated this possibility. If I was to have one, it would have to be as large as possible (within price boundaries) and have a good screen. So I settled on the Micca 15” Photo Frame.
It arrived yesterday and about all you have to do is plug it in. It comes with a rudimentary menued operating system for choosing which folder of photos, movies, or music that you want to play. I have zero interest in playing music on the unit and I can’t imagine the speakers are anything but junk. And I have a big-screen TV for videos, although I can certainly see the utility and fun of a small screen like this dedicated to looping through your favorite ones.
But the main point for this device was: Would it scratch my itch for displaying my favorite photographs? Time will tell, but my first impulse is to buy a couple more of these and arrange them around the room. They are certainly inexpensive enough to do that.
The screen is 1024 x 768 which is a high enough resolution to look good. Mine came with one blue pixel stuck on and one dead pixel, but I think this is the nature of the beast for such an inexpensive product. It’s not optimal but it’s likely par for the course. I may try to “message” those pixels later (sometimes this can be a fix…so I’ve read), but they are invisible when you actually have a photo on the screen.
The screen is bright and of high contrast. The dynamic range in the dark areas is likely a little weak, but overall the picture quality is within my picky standards. Right now the unit is cycling through a huge collection of Van Goghs.
For $120.00 (including shipping), if this satisfies the desire to display my photographs in lieu of purchasing a printer (and then mounting them) then this will be money and frustration saved. In my case, I really don’t have a lot of bare walls begging for photographs. Nor do I necessarily want to look at a wall of flowers, landscapes, macro shots, etc. This type of electronic photo display (changeable as it is) could be ideal. The option is still there, of course, for using a professional photo service such as Poster Print Factory for printing and/or mounting particular photos that I may want to plaster conspicuously and largely on the wall….something that the Canon printer couldn’t do (13” x 19” is actually not particularly large).
The unit comes with a remote but it’s mainly for setting it up. The effective range of this remote is a few feet at best. It’s not meant for controlling the unit from the armchair. The one notable feature that I would say was muffed is the little easel on the back that holds the unit upright. Its default and only position has the entire frame tilting way far too back. I propped it up by about 3/4” of an inch which made for a much more suitable viewing angle. You can also hang it on the wall as well…which could be where this ends up.
This 15” unit was about the largest size I could find. I did find a 21.5” photo frame but the price was $349.00. For that price you can buy an inexpensive 40” (or larger) smart TV, most of which come with a slideshow viewer of some kind, or certainly one you can add via a downloadable app. And, really, given how inexpensive and flat these flatscreen TV’s have become, that is a viable solution if you’re looking for something larger, especially something grand to put on the wall.
But for a small table or shelf, this 15” unit is about right. For a little more ($200.oo), you can buy a widescreen NIX unit (1366 x 768 as opposed to 1024 x 768). If your main use is photography, the 1024 x 768 better matches the aspect ratio of 35 mm. But if you plan to shoot and display a lot of HD movies (or shoot photos in the HD aspect ratio), then the widescreen model would be best although perhaps a little bulky for most coffee tables.
The unit is not battery-powered so placement requires having an outlet available….which makes having this unit on an actual coffee table a bit problematic unless you run wires under the carpet. And if you want to display more than 1000 photos (far more than this can easily fit on the supplied 8 gigabyte SD card), you’ll need to apply the free firmware update which you must first download and install. Not a big deal, but that could be a little techie for some.
There is some question on the robustness of the software. On trying to load one particular photo, it crashed the system and rebooted the photo frame. But I haven’t had any problems since then. One must keep in mind that this is a hundred-dollar product, not a $450.00 premium product from Apple.
The photo frame accepts USB or SD cards (SD/SDHC up to 32GB). I suspect that the one supplied is very cheap because sometimes it appears as “write only” when I insert it into my computer (which reads high-quality Lexar SD cards with no problem). If you plan on taking any amount of time arranging your photos on an SD card, you might want to buy a higher quality card to begin with. But for now, I’ll experiment with the cheapo one provided with the unit.
Brad is editor and chief disorganizer of StubbornThings.
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