Digital photoframes have succeeded the photo album of yesteryear to quickly achieve mainstream status and manufacturers are now striving to differentiate their offerings beyond the simple rotation of images, particularly with China’s savvy digital manufacturers turning yesterday’s innovation into tomorrow’s commodity at an ever brisker pace. Casio’s new Digital Art Frame achieves such differentiation using Adobe FlashLite playback technology, to display preset clocks and calendars incorporating user pics. The frame's most appealing and unique factor though, is its “snapshot-to-painting” function which converts digital photographs into artistic painting-like renditions using PhotoShop-style filters and there’s also a “Dynamic Photo” function that allows the creation of composite moving images. This will make it harder for "me too" products.
Casio’s Digital Art Frame certainly achieves its aim of doing more than simply replacing photo frames for printed photos, though it’s now going to be up to the public to vote with their wallets as to just how appealing turning their pic of Uncle Fred into an oil painting will be. Users can create up to eight different styles of art from a single photo at the push of a button: Water Color Painting, Color Pencil Sketch, Pastel Painting, Pointillism, Air Brush, Oil Painting, Gothic Oil Painting, and Fauvist Oil Painting.
The Digital Art Frame also uses Adobe® Flash® Lite™ playback technology, which allows users to display preset Flash content, such as clocks and calendars, to add a decorative accent to just about any type of room. Users can also download additional content from the internet. Or they can use family photos to make their own homemade clocks and calendars, by combining the Dynamic Photo and snapshot-to-painting conversion functions on the Digital Art Frame and images from a Casio digital camera with high-speed burst shooting.
Packed with all these new features, Casio’s new Digital Art Frame is a now a step ahead of conventional digital photo frames. I'm not entirely sure I'm converted yet though. Casio's press blurb says that conventional digital photo frames "do nothing more than replace photo frames for printed photos" which isn't entirely true - printed photo frames have one photo and digital photo frames have many, and turning your pics of Aunt Fanny and Uncle Fred into Van Gogh renditions may not be what the market wants.
A photo's charm is in the way it captures lifelike images of your loved ones and although the Digital Art Frame uses Casio’s facial recognition technology to highlight facial characteristics in any image, ensuring that all photographic subject faces are recognizable, I think I'd prefer to do the job myself with photoshop and feel like it was my creation rather than Casio's.
The frame also comes with Dynamic Photo, a popular function in Casio’s digital cameras that enables the creation of composite moving images. With the included Art Dynamic Photo function, which applies snapshot-to-painting conversion to the Dynamic Photo images, users can create moving works of art.
Anyone who has ever bothered to wrestle Photoshop or Painter into submission will attest that the thrill of creating something special with filters, but that thrill wears off after a while - you don't want to see the same filters applied to every pic you have, because you know that only sometimes will it enhance what you have already created.
I'm afraid that as a photographic enthusiast, I don't necessarily agree with Casio’s claim that the Digital Art Frame "unleashes the full creative potential of every user" , or that it will "entertain your guests and friend" to any great extent.
In many respects, the Digital Art Frame is a one trick dog and it's an old trick and one you might easily tire of.
I understand the need for high end manufacturers to differentiate their product from similar products with a lower price but ... well, let's see how many people choose the Casio Digital Art Frame over the standard photo frame when it becomes available in Q2 this year. My guess is that it won't be all that many.
Main Specifications of the Digital Art Frame
Display: 10.2-inch WSVGA color LCD Internal Memory: 2 GB Card Slots: SD × 1 Compatible Cards: SD/SDHC Input-output Terminal: USB (Type A) × 1 Audio: Stereo speakers Connectivity: Wireless LAN (IEEE802.11b/11g) Power Source: AC100-240V Compatible Files: Still images (JPEG/BMP/PNG/RAW), video (Motion JPEG), audio (MP3/WAV) Main Functions: Picture alteration, slideshow, Dynamic Photo, index display, automatic recognition of height and width, rotation, zoom, clock, calendar, alarm Power Saving: Automatic display on/off using viewer proximity sensor, light sensor, and schedule setting, automatic power on/off Size: 1.03×8.19×1.18 inches Weight: 2.75 lbs