Review: Digital Foci Photo Book

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Short version: The concept of the “digital photo frame” finally goes mobile with the Digital Foci Photo Book. Its sleek 8″ screen offers 800×600 resolution, supports a variety of memory card formats, and can even display digital photos in RAW format. The built-in speaker allows you to augment photo playback with MP3s, as well as display video, to craft the perfect viewing experience.

Features

  • 8″ screen with 800×600 resolution
  • Supports CF, SD/HC, MMC, MS/PRO, xD, USB drive
  • Music and video playback with built-in speaker
  • 2.5 hours of battery life on rechargeable battery
  • MSRP: $189.00

Pros

  • supports RAW and video playback
  • decent heft without feeling heavy or bulky
  • 4GB built-in storage

Cons

  • Slow to boot
  • No WiFi
  • Pricey

Review:

We’ve reviewed a lot of digital photo albums here at CrunchGear, and they’re all fairly similar. They’re great for displaying photos in your home, but not so great for displaying photos when you’re away from your home. The Digital Foci Photo Book is like a portable digital photo frame. Its built-in battery charges via USB and stores enough juice to power the unit for two and a half hours. It has enough weight to feel solid (ie: not cheap), but not so much weight as to feel bulky or actually heavy, so carrying this thing to Grandma’s house isn’t going to be a total drag.

With 4GB of built-in storage, you’ll not likely need to rely on the variety of card slots. But if you want to review a day’s activities without the delay of copying from your camera to your computer and then into the Photo Book, you could simply insert your camera’s memory card directly into this. Creating albums within the Photo Book couldn’t be easier: simply create a new directory — whether on the internal storage or your media card — and put photos in that directory. Each directory will be displayed at the Photo Book’s home screen, and you navigate using the four-way rocker on the right side of the frame.

There are, out of the box, two themes available for styling the interface. One is white and blue, and is reminiscent of a wedding album, though no specific iconography or text is included, so that’s purely my opinion of the theme. The second theme is brown and green. It’s a little more generic, with an “old time” feel to it.

I took the Photo Book with me to my sister-in-law’s for Thanksgiving, and passed it around to the family. I provided no specific instructions on how to use it, and within moments my mother-in-law was successfully navigating the photos I had loaded. So it gets the mother-in-law seal of approval for ease-of-use.

There are a couple drawbacks to the Photo Book, of course. First, the controls are all off to the side. A touchscreen interface would, in my opinion, be better. Second, there’s no Wi-Fi, so you’re stuck cabling this thing to your PC, or inserting media cards. Over time, that’ll become a drag. Third, this thing is pretty slow to boot. It’s not something you’re going to pull out of your bag, turn on, and hand over to a family member. You’re going to need to turn it on, then wait a little bit until it loads before you can use it. The delay isn’t so bad as to have you pulling your hair out, but I think it’s important to note that this is not an instant-on device. Finally, there’s no real standby mode: the Photo Book will stay on until the battery drains. Keep these last two points in mind if you have plans to leave this thing on your living room coffee table.

Product Page: Digital Foci Photo Book

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