HP Smart WiFi Display
HP’s Smart WiFi Display is more than a digital picture frame because it has the ability to not only show pictures but tap into the Internet for a variety of media. At $120, it is expensive and uses a lot of electricity compared to a static album, but the Smart Display is worth every penny if you want a frame that can do a lot.
While other frames are one trick ponies that display images and nothing else, the Smart Display is the equivalent of a media center that you put on an end table or desk. At 8.9 by 11.2 by 1.8 inches it mimics the size and shape of a static picture frame, but the Smart Display has an 8-inch LCD screen and stereo speakers.
Its display is bright and rich, but the 800 by 600 screen has a lower resolution than many other frames and pales in comparison to a professionally made print. I like the frame’s fold-out easel, allowing it to sit horizontally or vertically. It can also be hung on a wall. There is one big snag, however: you’ll need to plug it in and hide the power cord.
The key is that on top of having 512MB of memory inside (enough for about 500 im
ages), the Smart Display has a flash card slot that can accommodate Secure Digital, CompactFlash, Memory Stick and xD modules. This opens up gigabytes of potential storage. It can also use WiFi networking to connect with a networked computer, but the frame can only work with 802.11b and g networks, not the newer 802.11n systems.
Unfortunately, the frame can only get content from one source one at a time so you can’t intersperse items from the different sources. It’s great for grabbing images off of a networked PC, but it has to use Windows Media Player 11 software.
It worked like a charm, showing .jpg images, .mpg videos as well as playing .mp3 and .wma music files. It can’t show .html Web pages or .pdf Acrobat files but is a versatile way to show off your media.
The frame connected to my 802.11g network on the first try, although using the tiny handheld remote to enter my encryption key was a bit awkward. I was able to get images from my 12GB of digital images and show them in order, shuffle them or display four at once. The frame stayed connected 95 feet from my router, giving it enough range for covering the typical apartment or house.
I used the frame for about a month and found it to be mesmerizing, particularly for children who often can’t take their eyes off of it, waiting for new photos to appear. The Smart Display isn’t as smart as it wants to be, because its transitions are choppy.
As far as energy use goes, it consumes 7 watts, or about what a child’s nightlight uses. It adds up to 61.3 kilowatt hours of electricity per year if left on all the time. According to the EPA’s carbon calculator that’s $6.74 added to you power bill and is the equivalent of 97 pounds of carbon pumped into the atmosphere of an already overheating planet. It is the effect of driving an extra 98 miles in a car that gets 20 miles per gallon.
To cut its power use, I can set it to only be on when there’s likely to be someone around to see it. Like an alarm clock it will wake up at its appointed time, but only reduces its power draw by 2 watts, making it hardly worth the effort.
All told, the HP Smart WiFi Display is a marvel of modern electronics that does so much that it leaves traditional picture frames in the dust.
HP Smart WiFi Display (opens in new tab)
+ Web connectivity
+ Works with images, video and music that’s local or on the Internet
+ Remote control
+ Attractive design
- Small, low resolution screen
- Choppy transitions
- 802.11b/g only