The Omnitech Digital Photo Frame
Credit: Copyright 2009 by Cynthia Wunsch. All rights reserved.

Pros

Takes USB and most memory cards
Large enough viewing area to effectively hang on wall.
Configurable slideshow
Kickstand, although difficult to unlock, is strong enough to prevent tipping if frame is out of the way.

Cons

Reads only jpg format.
Even when text or pdf files are correctly exported to jpg, does not display text or graphics properly.
Buttons are not labelled and confusing.
Setup is awkward.
No option for portrait orientation, only landscape orientation.
To load pictures properly into internal memory, you must use the provided software, which resizes and changes the photos (although it does not change your originals)

Full Review

The Omnitech 12.1 inch digital photo frame (model 18722) is a nice-looking frame and has an attractive mat and frame. The kickstand holds the frame at a good viewing angle, or it can be mounted on the wall with two hooks. Unfortunately, there is no way provided to mount the frame in anything other than landscape orientation. If you must have it in portrait orientation, you will need a frame holder or an easel.

I have many uses for a picture frame that other people will not have. First, I have a huge collection of digitized artwork from primitive to modern times that I would like to display. The good news is that this picture frame does that wonderfully. By swapping USB sticks and memory cards I am able to easily change artists from Vermeer to Van Gogh in a few seconds. However, one must use the compression software to correctly load the promised 6,000 pictures into the frame's internal memory (I tested just over 1,000), and the ratios are sometimes compromised in the compression. While this will not matter for vacation photos, for fine art it is a major drawback. Another disappointment with the software tool provided with the frame was the inability to add more than 600 pictures at a time. As a test, I used a folder with 1,000 pictures, and had to figure out where the frame's software had quit, navigate to those pictures, select the rest manually, and add them in another step. Although the software allows you to select a folder, it is completely unable to navigate subfolders, so if you have your artwork or photos organized in folders in a directory tree structure, there is no way to easily add those photos all at once--you must add them from each individual folder. In addition, the software actually increases the size of some of the files, so if your files are highly optimized, you will lose some of the optimization, and therefore, be able to fit fewer files in the frame's internal memory. However, the frame's software does not require installation, and does not change your original photos.

Another use I had high hopes for was to display pdf files and Powerpoint files. Unfortunately, here the Omnitech fails miserably. First, it will read only jpg or jpeg format--not png, not tiff, not gif, not bmp, and certainly not pdf or ppt. Even when I used Acrobat to export files to jpg, or took screenshots and converted from bmp to jpg, the files (white with black text) refused to display correctly. No matter what I tried, or what editing software I used, there was absolutely no way to get black text or graphics on a white background that had been converted from pdf to display. And of course it will not display video--so an artist hoping to use the frame to display video installations will, unfortunately, have to keep looking. Even casual users might find this feature appealing--for example, to display digitized copies of old home movies, or wedding videos.

The third disappointment was the engineering. First, there is no option to run the frame from a battery. There is not easy way to turn off the power at the source, so this is a "vampire appliance" that will use energy until unplugged from the wall. It would have been nice to have an easily-accessible on-off switch closer to the frame, instead of having to unplug the transformer from the wall each time I leave the house. It also presents an attractive nuisance to small children and pets, who can pull the frame off a table or from the wall by pulling on or tripping over the cord, which could lead to a disaster. Second, the menu buttons are unlabelled, so you must either make your own labels, try to memorize the unmarked buttons and their functions, or consult the user manual each time (for example, if you want to change the length of the slideshow settings, or skip a picture). Third, the setup menu had no software option, so you must use the clunky menu and scroll buttons on the frame to set the date and time, slideshow parameters, and other options. A software menu would have saved a lot of time in setup. And although the frame comes with 512mB of memory, you cannot treat it like a memory device and merely drag and drop files onto it, because after approximately 40mB of files it will refuse to add any more. It is only through the software that you are able to add more than a few hundred files (although I have a few ideas on how it may be possible to eventually circumvent that).

In Closing

This is a great option for displaying large collections of photos. Artwork is reasonably well-rendered but the "compression" option will change the ratios--something a purist may not appreciate. However, for someone wanting more advanced uses for digital displays, this photo frame is not mature enough technologically. I would not recommend it for someone concerned about energy usage or who has small children or pets. Nevertheless, for some event such as a family reunion or a temporary installation, this has definite possibilities. I hope that the developers will take note of the engineering improvements that could easily be made, and that we will see a new generation of digital photo frames with improved displays and features.

12.1 In. DIGITAL PHOTO FRAME BY OMNITECH
Amazon Price: $59.99 Buy Now
(price as of Apr 3, 2016)
While this lacks some of the features I would love to see, this digital picture frame is a good choice for many consumers.