With digital photography pretty much the mainstay in the home, displaying your digital images is all the rage. But can the Sony's top of the range digital photo frame, the DPF-X1000, impress?
The Sony DPF-X1000 digital photo frame (catchy we know) sits at the top of Sony's digital photo frame range, sports a 10-inch "super clear LCD" and something the company calls "TruBlack" technology to give you, the company promises, an impressive picture with minimal reflection.
Well, it might sound strange to point out the obvious here, but the DPF-X1000 looks just like a picture frame and not just one of those cheap jobs from Ikea, but one from Habitat or Heals.
The frame itself is a dark, gunmetal silver, which is stylish, reflective, glossy and pretty top notch. It doesn't look cheap in any way. That frame is in turn framed in a thin pure silver (colour not material) beading. The whole frame is around 14-inches in size, so not small, but still picture frame size.
The 10-inch TruBlack LCD Wide SVGA panel sits centre stage with a small Sony logo tucked in underneath for good measure. For the gadget boy or girl the logo beams out in white, backlit of course. For the rest of us there is a setting to turn it off. As it is flush with the design your admirers won't notice it's missing.
In both day and night the screen is very impressive. Sony's claims of minimal reflection is pretty spot on. (Why can't they use this technology on their other gadgets? Well, watch this space, they might just do that.) Pictures are well reproduced and a number of features within the settings only help to enhance the visual experience further.
Sneak around the back and the minimalist design on the front is shattered. Memory card slots, cable sockets and buttons cover the back, and that's in addition to the remote control you get in the box (complete with 18 buttons). It seems there are shortcut buttons for every option from the view modes, to turning on an alarm. There are even two power buttons - bonkers.
Get past that plethora of buttons (d-pad included) and you get access to the memory card reader. Here you get support for CompactFlash, SD card, SDHC, MMC, xD-Picture Card and of course Sony's own Memory Stick formats: Pro STD and DUO.
Plugging in a card automatically switches the screen to play the images on that medium and it's all incredibly easy.
Beyond cards you can connect the photo frame to your PC, or a USB drive. There is also HDMI support although that is for outputting the data.
There isn't any Wi-Fi connectivity, which is a bit of a disappointment, meaning you won't be able to stream your Flickr photos or stream from your PC to the frame without it being nearby, however in perhaps a move to combat this, the DPF-X1000 comes with 2GB of storage on-board giving you plenty of space to store images.
Images can be viewed in a number of formats including JPG, TIF, BMP and even RAW, although there isn't video playback support.
With possibly thousands of images on the device, accessing them could be a complete headache. In steps the ability to organise your images via a folder (album) system or via an index feature that will display up to 50 images at a time on the screen (thumbnails of course). This, if needed, allows you to scan through your image collection quickly.
But the software element to the photo frame isn't just about giving you thumbnails. You can choose a number of different View Modes from a single image, multiview, numerous clock and calendar views, and then a series of Creative views that will add hearts, flowers or hot air balloons (of all things) just for starters to your images - how cute/sad.
Get past the chocolate cake option (yes really) and the most impressive option is something Sony call "Auto Touch Up", which allows you to edit the photos you've imported.
Here, at the press of a button, you can correct red-eye, exposure, focus, white balance, dodging, and even apply skin smoothing, on any photo. It's by no means an Adobe Photoshop replacement, but it will show you before and after shots, allow you to create a new file or overwrite the current file, before asking where you would like to save it. The settings here are basic: standard or strong, and there isn't an "auto" option to do it to all your photos as you import them (probably a good thing) but it will certainly appeal to the average camera user who is happy for the frame to do its "magic". For the most part the results are good.
Elsewhere, as with other photo frames on the market, there is auto power on/off options and the ability to rotate your images. As an aside the power cable is long enough so you won't have to have this sitting on the plug socket and turning the frame portrait rather than landscape will automatically rotate your images to, so you don't get a crick neck.
If you are after a digital photo frame that oozes style, features and functionality then there isn't much to whinge about with the Sony DPF-X1000. It's classy, the image quality is stunning and there are some really innovative features to make life easier.
Complaints? Well we would have liked Wi-Fi tucked in there too so we could stream images, more so from Flickr rather than the PC, but that isn't something that should stop you investing.