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Valentine's Day 2007 Buyer's Guide

EStarling Wireless LCD Digital Photo Frame

Simply put, this device provides numerous ways for you to upload and then display digital photos inside an attractive electronic picture frame. The unit's built-in memory is sufficient to handle up to 200 photos, but it also includes a 4-in-1 memory card reader that can handle the multimedia card (MMC), secure digital (SD), memory stick (MS) and compact flash (CF) formats. When you install any memory card, the eStarling photo frame automatically includes its contents in its ongoing picture rotation; with 1 GB of SD available for under $20, and 1 GB of CF for just over that amount, you can add plenty of additional photo capacity for very little cost. Initial setup requires simply connecting a USB cable between a PC and the device to run the configuration software; once that's handled, the device can operate on its own.

What makes the eStarling photo frame so incredibly cool, though, is its ability to accommodate many kinds of wireless inputs. You can use its simple built-in software to connect up to a wireless network, using WEP encryption and either DHCP or manual IP addressing. The unit supports a simple POP e-mail client so it can access a POP server and grab messages from an e-mail account. If you set up a free e-mail account using Gmail, Hotmail, or Yahoo for the eStarling photo frame, you can give it a dedicated e-mail address, then use that address to mail it new photos as you upload them to your computer. As the new photos arrive, old photos are automatically deleted to make room - which also explains why you'll probably want to add at least a modestly-sized memory card to store your real "keeper" photos. You can also set up RSS photo feeds to this device, and use it to grab photos from Flickr, Google Picasa, Webshots and other similar sources online.

The eStarling Digital Photo Frame packs lots of features into a small package.

The 7" LCD provides enough room to mimic a typical framed photo, with 800x480 resolution and an underlying image processor that maps photos onto the screen quite nicely. As we write this story, the eStarling photo frame is on shipping hold owing to a power supply connection snafu, but shipping should resume as soon as the old units can be swapped out for new ones. At about $250 this device isn't exactly cheap, but it provides a great way to share lots of memories with a loved one.