"Oh that's a nice picture" you hear one of your family or mates say when they are around your house looking at a photo on your mantle piece. "Can I have a copy?"
You've then got the hassle of finding that picture, printing it out and then probably sending it to them as the whole process has taken so long they've given up and gone home. Sony is hoping to cut out the waiting with the launch of a digital photo frame with a built-in printer, so you can create and deliver the print there and then.
Sounds great, but is it?
The DPP-F700 sports a 7-inch, 16:10 WVGA screen with a resolution 800 x 480 and can print 4 x 6-inch, 300 x 300 dpi photos in 45 seconds.
The frame, which features a large black boarder offers touch-sensitive controls, that like other frames on the market, appear only on touch, however for some reason Sony has opted to use a different non-gloss material - a matt plastic it seems, which doesn't work.
Controls allow you to navigate through the basic menu system and here you can edit images before printing with options including enlarge, reduce, crop, date stamp on/off, border/borderless as well as brightness, contrast, hue, and sharpness adjustment.
Images can be transferred onto the frame via USB from a PC, and there is an array of memory card slots around the side including support for SD, MMC, Compact Flash and xD.
Failing that, there is 1GB of on-board storage. Storage levels will vary, with Sony boasting 2000 images as a headline grabbing number, but as this is only at a 2-megapixel resolution, expect this number to be around 200 if you're using a 7-megapixel or higher camera.
The DPP-F700 uses dye-sublimation as the printing technology, the print quality was good, not amazing, however they were able to be handled straight away when we played with the printer at a trade show.
The concept is perfect, unfortunately the realisation isn’t. The biggest problem isn't the quality of prints, or the software interface, it's the form factor.
As you might imagine adding a printer into a photo frame will add some bulk to a photo frame. Sony has surprisingly done a pretty good job of hiding this underneath the frame (see pictures) and the end result therefore is that it looks like you've perched a regular digital photo frame on to a box, no problem there.
The problem, however, is that rather than then put the photo paper tray within this box or to the side, it sits rather awkwardly out the front giving the game away that there is a printer hiding inside.
Yes it is detachable, but that's not the point. There is no way you could place it anywhere like a window ledge or mantle piece because of the width of the overall footprint. So you might as well give up on the idea altogether and use a small compact printer.
In the future, if we are still printing photos, all digital photo frames will have a printer built in. It makes sense, it's a nice idea and we can see why someone at Sony approved the making of the DPP-F700.
However, it seems that "approving person" walked away after they were pitched the idea, as the end result neither looks good or has a form factor that would make it suitable (from our brief play) for where it should live in the living room.
This really is one of those moments where the end result could have been so much better.
The DPP-F700 digital photo frame-printer will be available in the States for about $200 in January.
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