Science & Tech

What is a digital picture frame?

By George Garza
Info Guru,

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Taking a digital photo
After you take an amazing digital photo, you can show it off to the world in a digital picture frame that showcases multiple photos at once on a rotating electronic screen
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The perfect gadget for sharing photos is the digital picture frame.

You have a photo that you would like to display electronically, but you don't have your laptop with you. You don't have a print of the photo, either. 

So how can you display it? That's easy! Use a digital photo-frame device.

A digital picture frame is a device that can display digital photos without the need to print them or use a computer. The digital photo frame can also be very small (one-and-a-half inches) to large (17 inches).

How It Works

Once you take a picture, you upload it into the digital photo-frame device using a USB port. Digital photo frames typically display the pictures directly from a camera's memory card. However, some photo frame devices have built-in memory.

Technology Content

A digital photo frame consists of the LCD panel, the Printed Circuit Board (PCB) and the outside frame. You can have either an analog or digital LCD panel which varies in size, although the technology definitely is moving in the direction of digital. The PCB is the heart of the digital photo frame. It includes the device's software. The frame makes the digital device appealing and desirable. The frame is about looks.

The size varies from one that's one-and-a-half inches that can be put on a key chain to one that 17 inches and can be placed anywhere in your home. The number of pictures stored also varies. Some can store only 60 photos like the key-chain version. But others can store many more with memory capacity topping four gigabites. Many are portable and include a rechargeable battery and a USB port.

Distortion can occur because of stretching. Digital cameras use an aspect ratio of 16:9. The standard picture display is 430 x 234 pixels. This aspect ration is less than 16:9. So the width of each landscape image is stretched to achieve the 16:9 ratio, but you get some picture distortion as a result.

Some digital photo frames can only display JPEG pictures since this is the standard and is the format used by digital cameras. Other formats such as BMP, GIF, PNG and TIFF are supported by some. But these are not used for pictures.

Slide Shows and Movie Clips

Most digital photo frames display the photos as a slideshow and usually with an adjustable time interval. Printer support is available, making hard copies possible. Others support multimedia content. MPEG and MP3 audio are the standards for multimedia. So movie clips recorded in a digital camera's movie mode can be displayed. Still others can display text files.

Uploading pictures

There are other ways of uploading pictures including over the Internet from RSS feeds or from photo sharing sites such as Flickr or Picasa. You can even use e-mail. Wireless network (802.11) models are also supported.

Who Makes Them?

 Several companies make digital picture frames including Polaroid, Kodak, Canon, Ceiva and Sony just to mention a few. The frames are similar in construction, though they do offer different features.

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