1 MILLION Digital Picture Frames

1-million-pennies.jpgI came across an old press release by PanDigital the other day, bragging about their 1 millioninth digital picture frame shipped.  I congratulate PanDigital, and any company that can ship a million units of anything. However,  it got me thinking about that huge number vis-a-vis PhotoVu and our digital picture frames that we manufacture right here in the good 'ole USA.

So what's the connection you ask? Well, I can tell you, with most certainty, that PhotoVu will never ship 1 million frames in its entire lifespan. That's because when you buy a PhotoVu wireless digital picture frame you are not buying some commodity mass produced product in China. Instead, you are buying a personalized and custom manufactured product that is subassembled in small quantities and final assembled one at a time, right here in the USA.

A lot of customers come to us because they are looking for a big picture frame they can hang on the wall. However, there is so much more than just being the biggest. We manufacture the best digital picture frame in the world, barr none.

So when you purchase a PhotoVu and ultimately hang it on your wall, you should have pride in knowing that you not only have a great centerpiece in your home to enjoy all of your precious photo memories for years to come, but you will also have a truly one-of-kind product that was made just for you.

Just like your photos are personal, so is your PhotoVu.

Are digital picture frames really lean back devices?

entertainment-center.jpgAt home, I have an entertainment center filled with A/V equipment: HDMI receiver, DVD/BD player, VCR (yes, still), Apple TV/Boxee, Comcast cable box/DVR, and of course, the LCD TV. In talking with customers on the phone, I find that most have similar setups. You might be thinking, why don't you use all this high-powered equipment to display photos on your 60 inch 1080i LCD TV and call it a day? Or, just plug you digital camera or USB flash drive into your LCD TV? Or better yet, just display them on your computer?

We have this conversation all the time but how do you really explain the PhotoVu experience and the reasons to buy our products?

I believe it starts with the same reasons we buy all these single purpose devices to watch TV/videos or listen to music...best in class or best product for the job. There isn't any technical reason that all these A/V products could not be scaled down or combined into one. There are also customer usage patterns that a singe company or product isn't going to change. Fundamentally, all of the above A/V devices are lean forward. Meaning, you interact with them a lot. What most don't know is that the digital photo frame is a lean back device. You set it up and forget about it. Then, as you go about your daily business, it enriches your life.

At PhotoVu, we've always taken the approach of working with your entire photo archive. Why? Past memories are just as important as current ones. In some cases, more important. Also, technology should blend into an environment and lifestyle so aesthetics are just as important as functionality. Believe me, very few significant others are going to allow a "computer looking device" to occupy the wall of their living room!

The lean back experience can be very hard to describe until you see it personally. As you go about your daily routine, you're not waiting or expecting to see anything. Then, a photo catches your eye, you pause, look at it for a few seconds or more, and you're off to a happy or sentimental place...as you run to put the next load of laundry into the washer. At times, you'll will be sitting on your couch watching TV then a commercial comes on. You focus on the PhotoVu for a few minutes then drift off into a series of past memories about friends and loved ones. No plan, no order, no interaction, and no...sit down and watch my slide show. It is unscripted, personal entertainment at its best!

In the end, I find it truly becomes the "ah ha!" experience for customers, their photos, and all the lost memories sitting in their shoe boxes.

"Right sizing" photos for your digital frame

right-sizing-frog_blog.jpgOne of the things I try to do in technical support is stay on top of new features in other digital picture frame products. So in my early morning Google and RSS scans, I came across this: ACDSee develops convenient Picture Frame Manager.

I was scratching my head since I didn't immediately understand what problem was being solved by the software. Why? Well, because we handle most of these issues automatically. Don't get me wrong, I have nothing against ACDSee or this product. I guess necessity is the mother of invention?? Or, at least it is for cheap frames.

So you ask, "John, what is the the solution?" For me, the approach is simple, straightforward, and something that should just be part of every digital frame. But, the problem isn't simple since you have digital images from years ago (think 1mp cameras...), newer higher resolution images (some 20mp+), prints that were scanned into digital images, a variety of image formats, and an ever increasing photo archive.

In reading ACDSee's web site, I discovered three key points. I've added my comments about digital picture frames to each.

Resizing Images

Most digital frames on the market do a very poor job of handling different sized photos. We've tested enough of them, we know. Either they don't fit properly on the display or you get an out of memory error. In addition, the internal capacity of some of these these frames is really small forcing you to frequently add or delete photos.

Image Management

The most common ways for low-end digital frames store images are internal storage and memory cards. So, you have the constant struggle of changing the content on the digital frame..adding, deleting, and reorganizing images. Overall, it's a real pain because you take pictures on the digital camera, store them on the computer, then manually add them to the digital frame. On some, you can't even use the full capacity of your memory cards!

Support of Multiple Image Types

As I've examined the PhotoVu log files from many customers, it has been interesting to see how many images are not of the type "jpeg". Supporting a wide range of image formats is really important to many customers. Most frames only support one type, jpeg.

There are technical reasons why cheap frames have these issues and it has to do with balancing features with cost. Or, I should say, the imbalance...

Right Sizing the PhotoVu Way

The PhotoVu was designed to display your entire photo collection (all sizes, shapes, aspect ratios) and do this with very little user intervention.

You don't have to worry about the size of the photo collection, resolution of the photos, the image types1, or the aspect ratios...all of these are handled automatically by the PhotoVu. Using our SmartResize™ technology, you'll get great looking, undistorted, full screen pictures every time. You can even use EXIF data to automatically rotate your photos!

Want your digital frame to use your local network and retrieve images from your computer? No problem. Use our built-in web administration program and select one or more folders to display. We even integrate with leading photo management software and RSS feeds. When you update the photos on your PC, so will the PhotoVu!

For those who want to use the digital photo frame stand-alone, just copy your images to a USB storage device and plug it into the PhotoVu. The photo show will automatically start and display your photos. Then, use the integrated track pad to navigate the on-screen menus. Set your photo show options and select one or more folders on the USB storage device to play.

Aren't you glad you own a PhotoVu? If not, looks like ACDSee has a great product for you!

1 - Supported image types include jpeg, tiff, png, gif, bmp