Walk the halls of my mother-in-law’s home and the one thing you will find is a plethora of pictures and collages framed along the walls. She is a proud daughter, wife, mother, and grandmother, and the years are laid out in a splendid array of frames, big and small, thick and thin, wood and metal, painted and unfinished. The only kind of frame she is missing is a digital frame. This oversight isn’t a fear of technology, it is uncertainty over which to buy.
Digital photo frames come in many sizes and price ranges. How does one go about finding the perfect one? Up until now it all depended on pixel resolution, size, brand, and price, all of which can be confusing to the average consumer. I have tried my fair share and still can’t recommend one for my mother-in-law to purchase. Until now.
A Frame with an Inbox
The Pandigital Photo Mail Digital Photo Frame is different from any frames I have ever set up. It was as simple and easy as plugging it into the wall and inserting a memory card or thumb drive. The menus can be navigated with buttons on the rear of the frame or with the included remote, which stores out of sight with a magnet on the rear of the frame. The menus themselves are straight forward and simple to navigate with several options to play pictures (.jpg or .jpeg), music (.mp3), video (.avi), or pictures with music overlay. Images, music, and video can be copied from the memory device directly into internal memory to allow viewing without any attached external memory. The frame can also be connected to a computer with a miniUSB cable to be opened like a mass storage device, allowing files to be transferred both to and from the internal memory. What sets the Pandigital Photo Mail apart from other digital frames is the feature that provides the frame the name: the frame comes with an assigned email address and the inbox is built into the software, accessible from the main menu.
Yes, this frame receives emailed photos directly on the frame. The Pandigital Photo Mail connects to AT&T’s Edge network and claims no subscription is necessary, nor is a Wi-Fi or computer connection required, though a Wi-Fi adapter is sold separately. What you do pay for, however, is the photo downloads. This is not email downloads, but image downloads; each email is allotted 30MB for images, in any number combination from one image to several, as long as the maximum attachments total no more than 30MB. The first one hundred image downloads are included in the purchase price of the frame with additional download packages available through the email menu or the Pandigital website. Once an image is downloaded, the email is deleted, clearing space for more emails in the inbox.
In addition to the email, the Pandigital Photo Mail comes equipped with a customizable greeting, a calendar view, a clock, and an alarm function. The clock can be turned on to display over the pictures while a sleep function can turn the frame off over three preset settings: two, four, and eight hours. The frame can even be programmed to power on and off for two separate time tables: daily each weekday and over the weekend.
The Pandigital Photo Mail’s image downloads do have a few downsides: there is no image preview, so the pictures are only seen after downloading; multiple image emails must be downloaded all at once, decreasing the overall available downloads by one download per image; and the mail inbox only shows the first twenty emails, which means emails will need to be downloaded or deleted in order to view any additional emails. The email address’ unique string of letters and numbers is preassigned, cannot be altered, and can be a little difficult to memorize, but it does come listed on the back of the frame for easy reference.
The Pandigital Photo Mail’s email service only works inside the fifty states, Puerto Rico, and the US Virgin Islands, and the only limitation beyond this is the AT&T’s Edge network coverage; the frames will still work as simple digital frames outside the United States, however the email will not connect to the server to update the inbox.
With the ability to email pictures directly to the frame, I can easily recommend the Pandigital Photo Mail Digital Photo Frame to my mother-in-law or any relative. The upside to this frame? Surprising them with vacation photos and baby updates before they start nagging.