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Of all the gadgets I’ve owned and/or reviewed over the years, a select few hold a special place in my heart. The Palm V PDA, for instance. The iRobot Roomba vacuum. The iPhone . And now, the Kodak Pulse ($129 direct; a few bucks less if you shop around…) has earned a spot on that list.
It is–without question–the smartest, coolest and easiest digital photo frame I’ve seen yet. What’s so great about it? I’ll cut right to the chase: It has its own e-mail address. (A custom one that you get to pick .) That means you, family members and friends can e-mail photos right to the frame, where they’re automatically added to your existing slideshow.
That, folks, changes everything. It not only greatly simplifies adding new pictures to the frame, but also creates the surprise factor of seeing unexpected additions. Think: snapshots of the new baby arriving daily on Grandma’s Pulse.
The frame relies on Wi-Fi, of course, as all photo frames should. Setup requires just a few taps of the 7-inch touchscreen and a visit to the Kodak Pulse Web site. That’s where you’ll choose your e-mail address, tweak the frame settings and start adding photos.
Notice I didn’t mention anything about plugging the frame into your PC. Not necessary. It slurps up pix wirelessly via e-mail, Facebook, Kodak Gallery service, and/or selected folders on your hard drive–all blissfully easy options. Or, in more traditional photo-frame style, you can pop in your digital camera’s memory card or a USB flash drive.
Glossy, stylish and compact, the Pulse can store up to 4,000 photos in its half-gigabyte of internal memory. Large snapshots are automatically re-sized to conserve memory and fit the frame’s bright, 800×600-pixel display. My test photos looked dazzling.
I was impressed by Kodak’s attention to little details, like the programmable timer that shuts down the frame at night to save electricity. And the touchscreen interface, while occasionally confusing owing to some hard-to-decipher icons, is leaps and bounds ahead of the clunky, button-driven interfaces found on most frames.
My only functional complaint is that you can’t set a custom time for photo transitions. Options include 3, 10 and 30 seconds, but I’d like to choose my own duration. Also, while it’s neat to get a choice between fade and zoom-and-pan transitions (the latter’s a Ken Burns-style delight), why is that option available only for the 10-second setting?
Ultimately, I’d like to see a larger version of this frame, preferably something closer to 10 inches. The Pulse’s 7-inch screen gets a little lost in a big room.
Of course, I’ll be amazed if Kodak doesn’t introduce more and bigger Pulse models in the future. This photo frame really is an outta-the-park homer–one I’ll be buying not only for myself, but also for a lucky few family members.
It’s that good.
Self-proclaimed cheapskate Rick Broida has been a technology writer for over 20 years. He has authored over a dozen books, including, most recently, “How to Do Everything: Palm Pre.” Currently he writes the Cheapskate blog for CNET, the Hassle-Free PC blog for PC World, and technology stories for Popular Science, Wired, and other magazines.