A Grandma-Friendly Digital Photo Frame

Wireless photo frames are great. A tech-savvy gifter can easily configure one ahead of time to snag photos from a Web album, give it to someone a little less in touch with tech, and ensure that they’ll receive up-to-date family photos automatically, without so much as playing with a single menu.

Of course, this assumes the receiving party has Wi-Fi access at home, which, if you’re giving it to someone who really doesn’t use technology, will not be the case. My own grandma probably would have loved a frame like Kodak’s W1020, but without a home Internet connection, she has no way to take advantage of most of its features.

Enter Vizit from Isabella products, a frame that has its own built-in GPRS radio to push and pull images from the Web without any exterior connections. The 10.4-inch frame syncs up with photos stored on Isabella’s own servers to keep a fresh supply of images rotating through it with minimum effort (or connectivity) required of the end user. You can even send images to Isabella from cell phones, meaning I could snap an image here at CES and have it appear on the frame on the end table at my grandma’s house nearly instantaneously. (I’m not sure she cares about new tech, though.)

Of course, you do pay a premium for this connectivity. Isabella will charge about $6 per month to maintain the connection needed to push and pull images from the frame, but compared to the cost and effort of signing up for conventional Internet access, it’s a cheap way to get photos into an otherwise unconnected home.

The interface has also been made very intuitive for older folks who aren’t familiar with technology. I had a chance to play with the frame on Wednesday night at an unveiling hosted by Isabella, and while it still had bugs to be worked out, the simplicity was there. It uses a “carousel” interface that rotates different options to the front of the frame with a simple forward/backward touch, making it difficult to get lost in different menu system levels.

Isabella hopes to make the Vizit available for $299 this spring.

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