Gadget Guy: eStarling Impact V

Steve Van Dinter Explores Digital Picture Frame

eStarling Impact VRating: 4 out of 5 Price: $199

Ever wanted to get a digital picture frame for a relative, but worried they wouldn't be able to use it? Here's a gadget that can put those fears it rest. It's the Impact V from eStarling. It looks like any other digital picture frame out there, right? There's one important difference about this one that will make a big impact on the user: It has WiFi! That means it can connect to the Internet opening it up to a whole wide world of additional options.

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So, first things first. Like a traditional digital picture frame, it does allow you to insert your camera's memory card and instantly start playing it. With an 800x600 resolution 8-inch screen, the pictures look great. You can also show a slew of video files and formats from your phone's 3GP videos to DVD-quality mpegs.

But here's where things get interesting, set it up to connect to your home wireless internet connection and get ready for some fun. Because now you don't ever have to physically put a memory card into the frame. Instead, visit from anywhere in the world and upload your pictures or videos.

Or, simply e-mail them to your frame. That's right it has its own e-mail address and will check the mail every few minutes, download the pictures attached and then store them on the 512 MB of internal storage and display them on the screen.

Think of how great this would be to give as a gift to grandma and grandpa and then send them photos of your kids for instance. And since it's an e-mail address you're sending to, all of the grandchildren could send those pictures in as well.

Or, sign up for a feed from Flickr. It lets you receive everything from nature images to pictures of holiday lights. You can also subscribe to an RSS feed and even have pictures from Facebook automatically transfer.

The Upsides: It's very easy to use, once you hook it up to the wireless network. Essentially, if it's given as a gift, it could be set up and then left on, or put on a schedule to turn on and off at a given time and then left alone. Uploading is easy via the Web or the device's e-mail address. It has a great picture quality and the video playback is good as well.

The Downsides: Deleting pictures isn?t quite as intuitive as you might hope. It connects to four types of wireless networks, WEP and WPA, but not more unusual ones like shared WEP connections for instance.

The Bottom Line: All in all, this would be a great, last-minute gift for a relative that really the whole family could use.

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