MemoryFrame USB Digital Photo Frame

Reviewed by: Jack Reikel, March 2004, updated February 2007
Manufactured by: Pacific Digital
Requires: Windows 98 through Vista, USB 1.1 or higher connection; PC not required to use DirectConnect access via USB cable from digital camera or USB storage card reader
MSRP: $249.95

With the surge in digital photography over the past 5 years in particular, along with the official demise of film availability and processing outlets, it's no surprise that several hardware manufacturers have come out with small, self contained LCD screens backed by a memory and display module, all surrounded by a decorative frame. The market for this sort of thing is growing and the products themselves are in fact well worth the effort required to bring them to market - they seem to getting quite popular. All this is to say that your old 5"x7" wood, glass or plastic photo frame pales in comparison to the slide shows and bright presence of the new digital versions.

The original Pacific Digital Memory Frame was okay — we gave it a good review after all. The newer models and most of the competitive models from other manufacturers have made significant improvements in LCD and image quality, and added lots of new features and functions.


The basic Pacific Digital MemoryFrame is comprised of an Active Matrix TFT LCD screen measuring about 4.5" wide by 3.5" high (5.6" diagonal). The back of the device has controls for power, slide show display, single image display, a stop/start button and a USB 1.1 connection which allows you to load MemoryFrame's built-in storage media either directly from a camera or card reader, or from a computer. It displays images at 640x480 pixels at the original color depth of each image. The MemoryFrame will work with JPG, TIF, PNG, GIF and BMP image files. The device is supplied with one decorative frame to surround the display, which means the whole thing is almost ready to go as soon as you get it out of the box. The DirectConnect feature allows you to directly attach a USB Mass Storage Compliant memory-card-reader to MemoryFrame without the need for a PC.

In addition to the MemoryFrame and decorative holder/frame, Pacific Digital also supplies an image management program called Digital PixMaster. It has features for organizing a personalized photo show and uploading it to the MemoryFrame via a USB connection. You can choose the order of images, not matter what size, as long as they're one of the compatible formats.

Anything goes. Vacation photos, drawings by the kids, portraits. Store them on your hard drive, then drag & drop them into PixMaster. The software will automatically convert them to the correct size. If you set up a slide show in PixMaster, you'll also be able to choose from a solid range of transition effects such as wipe, dissolve and so on. You can change transition effect in MemoryFrame itself using the selections in the on-screen menu. We had a lot of fun digging through our photos and finding entertaining and funny combinations to load into MemoryFrame. We were able to load up to 55 images at a time, the maximum rated capacity of the device. Once loaded, the internal menu on the MemoryFrame has settings for slide duration, transition duration, background color and which images should be included in the slide show. There are also controls for loading images from camera or computer.

Using MemoryFrame is simple. Turn the device on, then connect a card reader or camera with a USB cable or connect MemoryFrame to a USB port on your PC. DirectConnect will copy images of your choice directly from the camera or storage card. If you use your PC, the PixMaster software provides selection and sorting features which let you pick and choose from any compatible image formats on your hard drive(s). Once MemoryFrame is loaded, press the slide show button on the back of the device.

The MemoryFrame is priced at the lower end of this market. Compare it to the ultra high-end 17" monster from DigiFrame at $799.00 or the mid-market Sony CyberFrame at $499.00 or the low-end Ceiva Digital Photo Receiver at $99.00. For most people, the MemoryFrame may just do the trick.

Cons: The product documentation needs an update - it's too wordy, not particularly well organized and contains some inaccuracies and inconsistent instructions. When a large digital image is downsized by the MemoryFrame (from 2580x1940 to 640x480 for example), a large amount of detail is lost from the image background. Downsample or downsize images in PhotoShop, PaintShop or PhotoSuite instead - you'll be much happier. We strongly recommend that you leave the MemoryFrame in slide show mode because the user manual specifically warns about the possibility of burn-in if images aren't being cycled. Long startup time - the more images, the longer it takes to begin the slide show.

Pros: It works and it's quite well done. The whole idea of a slide show display sitting unobtrusively on a shelf or table while it shows off its images is too much to pass up. Display quality is good and images can be clearly seen across moderate sized rooms. Different decorative frames are available for purchase online. You don't need to use a PC because MemoryFrame will accept images directly through its USB port straight from your camera or a card reader - great for loading tech-wary Mom's MemoryFrame each time you visit! Keep the device in slide show mode and it will become a terrific conversation piece. Everybody who saw it in our living room commented on it appreciatively and spent some time looking at pictures they might otherwise have ignored. If you've got a yen for this sort of thing, the Pacific Digital MemoryFrame is well worth a look.

KSN Product Rating:

Looking for another Memory Frame Review? Then check out the Philips Digital Photo Frame (9"), model 9FF2CME, or the Philips Digital Photo Display (7"), model 7FF1CMI/37

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