Great option for displaying your best (or any!) digital pictures

Started 1 week ago | User reviews thread
Shop cameras & lenses ▾
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Flat view
Douglas F Watt Veteran Member • Posts: 3,403
Great option for displaying your best (or any!) digital pictures

A recent positive experience that I thought I would share with the Sony A mount forums. It has occurred to me that there is a problem in digital photography that is not generally acknowledged. We are all struggling in a sense with the demise of the photo album, and with the (largely unacknowledged) serious limitations of phones and tablets. Photo albums of course have passed almost completely out of current usage, and are now with the Sony Walkman, VHS, and carbon copies as technologies in the historical graveyard. Roughly 95 to 98% of all digital images are viewed on small screens, often times barely HD, and oftentimes, no bigger than 5 inches. Tablets are now the second most common viewing surface, followed by laptops, but these are also rather small, and although higher resolution is now readily available, the eight megapixel display on my Android phone with a 5” screen is clearly overkill. So we really do not have commonly available high-quality display options, unless we have 4K and above monitors, which tend to be used as workstations for image processing but not so much for image viewing in the home. We can set up slideshows on those, but that’s not useful in our living rooms. For our very best and favorite images, enthusiasts tend to gravitate towards large prints, but at some point, we simply run out of wall space. And large prints have their issues too – principally the cost of all those frames, and significant cost for the print itself, if we are printing past 13 x 19 (where any number of excellent large-format printers (I love the Canon Pro 100) can kick out a 13x19 print for roughly $3 in actual material costs per print). I decided on a bit of a whim to try a rather expensive ($600!) Memento 25 inch 4K display – thinking that if I didn't like it, I could easily send it back. Well, somewhat to my surprise, it's had a transformative effect in terms of how I approach image display, and has made a huge photographic library all of a sudden much more relevant and accessible. And indeed I like the images on the screen even more than my high resolution prints, even though those printed images legitimately have much more detail (more on that later).

Pros:

1) Luminous image quality – they have done an excellent job of tuning this panel so that image quality exceeds both of our larger 4K TVs, even though the panel is clearly smaller and has no more resolution. Terrific contrast, and dynamic range and color, without notable oversaturation. Best viewing surface I've seen yet for a 4K panel displaying high-resolution images. Does not appear to be OLED but gets close to that in dynamic range and color.

2) Basic image parameters such as color, saturation, contrast and of course overall panel brightness are easily modifiable. I find that default settings are just about right.

3) Capacity for holding 3000 images organized into almost any number of playlists (not sure what the maximum number might be but I haven't hit yet).

4) Excellent smart phone app (but see Con #1) which allows full remote control of the panel (controlling everything from cycle times to playlists to screen color and contrast tuning to simple on/off functions), as long as you are on the panel Wi-Fi network.

5) Excellent program on the PC side and decent Android and iPhone software for control of the panel and for image uploading (but see con #4).

Cons:

1) Significant operating system issues, suggesting that this was rushed to market. Top of the list is that you can't simply load images by attaching a flash drive or SD card. Indeed there is not even an SD card reader, and the apparent USB flash drive slots on the rear of the panel are there for 'diagnostic purposes only' according to their technical support, and have no utility as a port for reading or loading images. WUWT???

2) This means that you are totally dependent on a Wi-Fi network and Wi-Fi connection to upload images into the panel's memory. This is very slow when you're talking about uploading hundreds and even thousands of images – way slower than even USB 2.0.

3) The panel’s total memory capacity is unspecified so I suspect that the 3000 image limit might be exceeded long before you get to 3000 images if you're uploading very large files. This may change and re-incentivize where you set your JPEG quality slider in your postprocessing program!

4) User handbook is a bit of a joke, and does not adequately clarify that your best interface for uploading is unquestionably through your PC (or Mac) – where typically we have most if not virtually all of our digital images. Someone not doing a deep dive here might readily conclude that they could only upload images from their phone, grow frustrated with the process of having to transfer everything into their phone, and give up.

5) Cost – this is a pricey item, with even just the smaller 25” panel going for $600, and the larger 35” one (which might be more appropriate in living rooms and other larger rooms), going for $900.

This is in all probability the best digital frame on the market right now. So why am I giving it 4.5/5 stars? Good question. It's still just a bit overpriced and needs further work and refinement of its operating system – both of these are likely a function of the near total absence of real competition In what appears to be a still immature and developing marketplace niche. It's as though nothing has really yet filled the gap of the now totally antiquated picture albums, and while tablets and phone have taken over, those aren’t the way to make your images more ‘viewable’. Perhaps the meme of a dedicated high-resolution display (and your phone and tablet by definition cannot be dedicated) just hasn't quite caught on, as people have not yet experienced and appreciated the virtues of this approach. There are for sure several other digital frame products (the idea has been around for quite some time and I think the first of these appeared 15 years ago or more), but none that I have seen anyway that offer 4k. And several of them aren't even that much less expensive. Given that even your typical android cell phone and iPhone take 12 to 14 megapixel images, in some ways it's amazing that the marketplace is so far behind the potential demand for a technological solution to fill the gaps between the dead photo album and the limitations and restrictions of phones and tablets. In any case, this is clearly the best way to display your images, whether they are from a cell phone or from a high-end professional full frame camera . . or anything in between. But it does have some issues.

Still, overall, Highly Recommended, with the above caveats. Given that the cost of 4k displays has come down rather dramatically, perhaps we'll see a more competitive and less expensive product in the coming months, and one with OLED. For now, this is the best option on the market for both mid-size and large digital frames. It will potentially transform how you feel about your digital image library, making it far more accessible to both you, and your family. Worth a try?

-- hide signature --

Sony A99ii-A77ii-RX10III-RX100III
Sigma: 8-16 f4.5-5.6, 500 4.5 EX DG APO.
Sigma Art: 35 f1.4, 50 f1.4, 24-105 f4.
Tamron: 70-200 f2.8 USD
Sony Zeiss Alpha: 24 f2, 85 1.4, 135 1.8, 24-70 2.8 SSMII
Sony: 16-50 f2.8, 100 f2.8M, 70-400 f4-5.6 G2
Minolta: 600 f4, 70-210 f4 ('Beercan').
DFW

 Douglas F Watt's gear list:Douglas F Watt's gear list
Sony RX100 III Sony RX10 III Sony a77 II Sony a99 II Sony 24-70mm F2.8 ZA SSM Carl Zeiss Vario-Sonnar T* +15 more
Douglas F Watt's score
4.5
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Flat view
Post (hide subjects) Posted by
ForumParentFirstPrevious
Keyboard shortcuts:
FForum PPrevious NNext WNext unread UUpvote SSubscribe RReply QQuote BBookmark MMy threads
Color scheme? Blue / Yellow