Quick hands on with the Vizit cellular connected touchscreen photo frame

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The Vizit photo frame is an interesting twist on conventional photo frames. Forget about setting it up over Wi-Fi or USB—this thing connects to AT&T’s network and pulls in photos sent via e-mail, MMS, browser upload, Photobucket, and Flickr.

I had a chance to play around with a beta version of the frame, so this isn’t so much a review as it is a quick look at what you might expect from the finished retail version that’s set to begin shipping out this month.

Setting up the frame is easy; you plug it in. That’s it. The frame is pretty thin and light and sort of looks like an old school LCD monitor. The 10.4-inch LED-backlit touchscreen has an 800×600 resolution and photos look crisp and bright. No complaints there.

Each frame has a special e-mail address, and photos sent to that address from approved e-mail addresses will show up in a matter of moments. You add approved contacts on Vizitme.com under your account section, which houses all your photos as well.

You associate an e-mail address and cell phone number with each of your contacts and from there on out, photos sent from that e-mail address or as MMS messages from that cell phone number will pop up on the frame. Retail versions will have an SD card slot and working USB port (my beta one didn’t) but the over-the-air features are the main selling point for this product.

The frame will also pull in photos from Photobucket and Flickr accounts. The company, Isabella Products, has a partnership with LIFE.com to pull in a new photo each day as well. It’d be nice to be able to pull in photos from other sites via RSS. Perhaps that’ll get added.

You’ll get a little pop-up notification on the frame when a new photo comes in, and you can reply to whomever sent it directly from the frame itself with one of a few pre-loaded messages: Thanks! Wish I was there! Miss you!—that kind of stuff. You can also share the photo with anyone you’ve added as acceptable senders. So get a photo from mom and forward it on to your sister right from the frame. You can mark certain photos as favorites, rotate them, and delete them directly from the frame as well.

The resistive touchscreen takes a fair amount of direct pressure (the company recommended I use my fingernail to get the best response) in order to select photos and menus, but the overall UI was clean and relatively snappy for a beta product.

Here’s a quick video demo:

And now for the elephant in the room. The frame’s retail price “is $279.99 plus a required basic or premium photo plan.” That’s a spicy meatball for a connected photo frame, especially the “required basic or premium photo plan” part of the equation. On the other hand, well-heeled gift givers will find this frame to be just about the perfect present to give grandma so she can watch all the photos from her kids and grandkids come pouring in automatically. And being able to directly reply to and forward photos is a nice, unique touch as well.

Vizit Photo Frame [Vizitme.com]

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