As you might be able to tell by festive store displays, Christmas is right around the corner. One of our favorite gift ideas is the digital photo frame. It says, “I care,” “I’m sentimental,” and “I’m not helplessly stuck in the 20th century.” PanDigital produces a lot of photo products for all of your gifting needs. The latest in their line is the PanTouch Clear, in an 8-inch model, which we’ve found to be a welcome option.
Features and Design
Obviously, the frame’s designers realize that you can get bored of simply browsing through snapshots of old vacations and tired family photos: While the device does promise storage for up to 6400 images, it also throws in options for music, video and recipes. You can also tap into other content from your networked computers and/or the Web, using a Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connection. However, you will need to purchase an optional adapter for each of these features. PanDigital sells the Wi-Fi one for $24. Any Bluetooth one will do, but the PanTouch Clear doesn’t come with either.
What’s In the Box
Out of the package, the PanTouch Clear’s 8-inch screen is a bit large for an office desk, but perfect for the living room, bedroom, kitchen or other area of the house. It’s also versatile, with three decorative paper mats, so you can match the look to your room or your mood. Keyhole slots on the back of the frame also make it good for mounting. Of course, if you mount, you’ll have the power cord to contend with, as well as the magnetic remote. (Yes, the remote is magnetized, and sticks to the back of the frame so you might actually remember where you left it.) Other than that, the unit comes with a USB cable, a quick start guide and a user guide.
Performance and Use
PanDigital didn’t give this frame a rechargeable battery, so you’ll need to use the enclosed power adapter to utilize the device. After plugging it in, you’ll have to flip the power switch on the side of the frame as, despite various controls located on the top and a separate remote, this is annoyingly the only way to turn the unit on. Within 12 seconds though, the main menu appeared. Two seconds later, we were treated to the manufacturer’s own slideshow.
While the unit does come with a remote control, you’ll be pleased to note that it further offers touchscreen functionality. For many, however, this option will prove more of a last resort for when you can’t find the remote. Even though touchscreen commands make a nice extra, employing them can result in one leaving behind a lot of greasy fingerprints – never a plus when attempting to show off digital snapshots.
If you want to look at people that you actually know, you have three options: You can load a memory card, transfer pictures from your computer, or stream photos from networked devices and/or the Windows FrameIt application. If you choose to go the manual route, just pop in your memory card of choice, and the unit will prompt you to import all of your photos, select the photos you want to import, or start a slideshow. If you choose nothing, it will automatically start flipping through pictures. If you’re in need of more photos, music or video, you can always hook the unit up to your computer via the included USB cable too. From there, just drag and drop everything under the sun into one giant folder.
Despite our meager photo skills, most images displayed on the unit looked fairly impressive. We used a lot of summer carnival photos to test out the unit, which meant we showcased a number of snapshots that featured tons of bright colors. Typically, you’d expect to see some degradation in visual quality when working with these sorts of scenes. However, everything here was lifelike and extremely detailed, all the way down to those gooey cotton-candy strands.
Audio, on the other hand, was an entirely different, ear-piercing story. Granted, when we want to rock out, we don’t go looking for the nearest picture frame. But it’s an especially good thing in this case though, because the sound on the PanTouch Clear is hardly of decent caliber. Then again, such options are probably meant more for playing the calming sounds of waterfalls splashing or kids laughing while you stream photos, not Mudhoney or any of the other bands that we loaded.
As for video quality, expected mixed results. As with photos, overall image caliber was fine. However, supporting audio was not. It probably won’t matter anyway, because the chances of you wanting to convert all of your video into the AVI format might make you skip this feature altogether. We understand that PanDigital doesn’t want to hop on the Apple bus and support iTunes content. However, the manufacturer could have thrown in a little love for .MOV files, since that’s such a popular format.
Getting back to the positives though, another weird, but sort of neat feature is the internal recipe book. This is a popular feature for PanDigital’s KTC product, so it’s nice that the company added it into its affordable picture frame lines as well. Mind you, if you have the device mounted on your living room wall, you probably don’t want to run back and forth in front of it in order to whip up Red Pepper Rouille or Shrimp Toast. However, for those who choose to hang the frame near the kitchen, the option is there.
The unit comes packed with 13 recipes from the Best of Bon Appetit. If your mouth is watering for more, you can a;sp purchase additional recipes on SD cards via Amazon or other retailers. PanDigital says you should also be able to purchase additional recipes directly from the company’s website soon. Sadly, you can only add your own if you make them into JPG files and view them through the photo feature.
PanDigital definitely packs a lot of extras into the PanTouch Clear, including wireless connectivity, audio/video playback and other functions. The reality is that these extraneous options aren’t necessary by any stretch, but it’s probably just such niceties that will make you pick this unit over the 25 other comparable digital frames available in any retail store. Of primary importance: When it comes to simply displaying digital images, the PanTouch Clear performs very well, as home photographers will be pleased to note. And, in the end, isn’t that really what any aspiring shutterbug cares about?
- Displays photos extremely well
- Reasonable $130 price tag
- Touchscreen makes manual control a breeze
- Mounts easily
- Audio, video and recipe features an added bonus
- Audio might as well be coming from a tin can
- No on/off controls on the remote
- Limited file format support