Wednesday, August 09, 2006

To Buy Or Not To Buy: PhotoCo PhotoShare7 Digital Pic Frame - Probably NOT

This is just a Quick comment on the PhotoShare7, a sleek, ipod-like 7" digital picture frame I saw at Staples in Patchogue for $99.99. I was about to jump on the opportunity to buy that as a gift for my Dad's upcoming birthday and put in a 2GB SD card, so he could have constantly changing pictures of a lifetime of happiness and family life. But, I ended up holding back. Here are the questions I still do not have answers for, and you should keep in mind before you buy this item.

I just left a voicemail for the people at Photoco that make/sell them. It's cool to see iPod like design in a device but to carry it over into the sparsely worded packaging is stupid. The box for an item that is not very well understood by customers should have a little more info and useful info at that.

Their box does not even state a URL or web site for the company that makes it. It does not state if there is an upper limit on the capacity of SD-card it can take. (This can be an issue as new cards come out, these (2006) days 2GB SD cards can be had for under $50. e.g., I have a great Nikon 5700 camera for which I splurged on a 4GB MicroDrive only to find the camera only handles 1GB cards).

The box does not state the resolution of the screen, which most sites briefly mention as an issue, but there is no more concrete info. I am sure the low price must be a factor of that, because the quality of a 7" photo at 320x240 vs. 640x480 is going to be significantly different. Another thing, I noticed a similar unit at an auto-dealer the other day. I was immediately struck by the poor contrast, washed out colors and overall low quality image of that unit. It was NOT a PhotoCo frame BUT, if they were made by Far East or Chinese manufacturers from the same technology, it would be enough to hold me back.

The worst part is, I did find a web site for these people, http://photoco.com, and they seem to be in Ohio. I have nothing but a negative impression of the company itself. They have an 800-number, but no one answers. I have left 3 voicemails, and got no response. There isn't even a single more bit of information on the whole WEB SITE than there is on the sparse package text. So, I had the Staples people put back on the shelf the PhotoShare7 unit I had wanted to buy and write a more detailed review on. If the company does not even bother to respond to NEW customers asking to BUY, I wonder what quality one can expect from the product, or in customer support queries.

The idea is great - though hardly new. The design is sleek - though iPod-ripoff like. The price is great - though I can't be sure if its actual quality is worth that price. It comes with great accessories, but without having more info, I cannot recommend anyone buy it except where the convenience, gadget factor, quick and inexpensive gift nature of it is useful.

- Update: Finally, on my third call, a woman answered, who had NO idea about the product. She said she would find someone. The guy called back in a very laid back tone, as if doing me a favor. Apparently this company is a subsidiary of Samsonite, which I found an interesting and not totally unrelated strategic expansion of the travel theme. The product is said to have a resolution of 480x234 or something weird like that, which suggests my initial impression was correct, that the picture would be stretched out of proportion. The guy said it can take any available SD card (which currently are at 4GB in 2006). I asked if the pictures should be stored on the card from the Apple Macintosh MacOS or other PC at appropriate resolution or would the firmware of the frame simply load up a 5MP image and display it appropriately resized to the size of the frame, and he said that is what would happen. That's the latest as of August 15, 2006.

3 comments:

Anonymous said...

Hi, Imran...
Thanks for the tips. Wish ur dad a very happy birthday from the behalf of a friend.
Parents are precious.

Anonymous said...

I wish I had seen your notes before I bought one. I had mine for about 1 month and the backlight (I think that's what it's called) dyed out so now even if the lights are out you cannot see the pictures only shadows. I have called a few times-still waiting to find out what can be done. Frustrated in Maine.

Imran Anwar said...

Sorry to hear that your unit's screen died. Getting a response from them is a problem. Can you believe this is a unit of Samsonite, if you do not get a response, complain to Samsonite management.

Others, who already bought this, make sure to call these people and ask for the new "firmware update" to be emailed to you.

Others, who want to buy this, the unit is beautiful to look at but the screen resolution is CRAP for $100. Instead, spennd $150 and buy the Westinghouse 7 inch unit (NOT their 5 inch unit) which is stunning in display quality.

Imran