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04/30/2010

The Kodak Pulse digital frame gives me iPad envy

I agreed to test the new 7” Kodak Pulse digital frame – and came away from the experience wanting to make it mine, while also leaving me wanting for its much more expensive look-alike cousin.

KodakPulse1024-1 This digital frame looks very much like a smaller version of the heavily-hyped iPad, which I had the chance to see for myself a few weeks ago. It sports a raised bevel edge and a elegant glossy black frame around the screen. Unlike the iPad, this frame's screen is matte, which is a blessing. Who wants to see their reflection in the screen?  The matte surface allows you to see the images in the frame's glorious colours and high contrast ratio. It just excels at its most important function.

You manage your pictures by registering an account with KodakPulse.com. Once you're registered, you can set up an email address at Kodakpulse.com. If you have connected your frame to your Wifi network, emailing pictures to this address (from your cellphone, for example) will automatically upload them to your frame. You can set it so that your Facebook pictures get sent automatically and the frame will ask you if you want to see the new pictures when they arrive. You can also use the Kodakpulse.com interface to upload pictures from your PC to your frame using a Wifi network.  Of course, you can also upload pictures the traditional way, by inserting a USB key or a memory card in the port at the back.

One  surprising aspect of this product is that it is not a good photo browsing device. Just like on many touch screen devices, you browse through the pictures by sliding a finger on the touch screen.  Sadly, you can't zoom in or rotate pictures. There is no thumbnail view that would allow you to search for a specific picture you might want to show someone. You can only see the pictures in random order, so you cannot use it as a photo album to view your vacation pictures in chronological order, for example. I'm not asking that this screen run iPad apps, but if it could just have had decent photo browsing capabilities, it would have gone from "digital frame" to "smart frame".  Alas, it is not to be.

At a MSRP of $129.99, the Kodak Pulse is at is in the medium price range for its kind, but the pictures look spectacular. The wireless, Facebook and email upload capabilities really cut down on file transfer hassle. Its sober, neutral styling can make it look at home almost everywhere. It remains a good purchase as a decorative object, but you will still be reviewing your vacation pictures on another device.

Send us a cool picture at geektown@kodakpulse.com and it will show up automatically on our frame in the office. And please, keep it clean.

-- François Villeneuve, MSN Tech & Gadgets

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Danny BradburyDanny Bradbury

Danny Bradbury is a technology journalist with 20 years' experience. He writes regularly for publications including the Guardian, the Financial Times, the Financial Post, and Backbone magazine. Danny also writes and directs documentaries.

Maurice CachoMaurice Cacho

Maurice Cacho is a Toronto-based journalist mixing his love for tech with a passion for news. He's also CP24's Web Journalist and appears daily on CP24 Breakfast and weekly on the channel's tech show, Webnation, discussing tech news and trends.

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