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If you're looking for a way to revive your digital photos, you could do worse than the HP DF1050TW. Despite an unfinished feel to the software, the Photo Drop feature alone makes this frame worthwhile.
Smartphones have turned all of us into amateur photographers, snapping pictures of anything and everything around us. But unless you have a nostalgia for the 90s, you aren’t likely to print them.
The photos might be great but stuck on your phone or computer they aren’t getting the exposure they deserve. That’s where a digital photo frame comes in. Announced at CES 2018, the HP DF1050TW promises to bring new life to those previously buried digital photos. Join us as we take a closer look, and at the end of this review, we’ve got one to giveaway to a lucky reader.
HP DF150TW Specifications
- Display: 10.1 inch touchscreen, 1280 x 800
- Storage: 8 GB internal, 10 GB cloud
- Connectivity: Wi-Fi 802.11 b/g/n
- Media Slots: SD (SDHC) card, up to 32GB; USB Flash Drive
Design & Hardware
The HP DF1050TW sports a 10.1 inch HD screen, which makes it ideal for displaying all those high-resolution smartphone photos. The aspect ratio is 16:10, which does mean that if you want to view any photos taken on your DSLR, they will have black bars around the side to compensate for the different aspect ratio.
There is a lot of dead space around the screen, which could have possibly been better used, or removed entirely. That said, most traditional photo frames are designed to be decorative in themselves, so perhaps the blank space is to highlight the DF1050 TW’s aesthetics. There is a small sensor on the top right of the screen that looks ominously like a camera, but rest assured, is only a light sensor for monitoring the ambient light conditions.
That aesthetic appeal is potentially polarizing. Products like the Google Home and Apple’s HomePod have been carefully designed so that they blend into the home. However, this frame looks like a piece of technology, rather than an item of homeware. This is particularly true of our white review unit, although depending on your decor, the black may seem a little less bold.
The device’s greatest weakness is around the back of the device in the form of a rather large stand. The stand incorporates the power and media inputs, as well as a 3.5mm headphone jack. The biggest disappointment is that this stand is a permanent feature of the device. With no possibility of hanging it and a 1.5m power cord, you are fairly limited on where you can place your frame. The inclusion of an AC power adaptor also pointed to another downside of the frame, no internal battery.
Unlike many similar connected devices, the HP DF1050TW runs on its own operating system. The home screen is minimal, with a white background, the HP logo, a digital clock widget, and six touchscreen buttons. The six buttons give you access to the Photo Drop, Photos, Music, Calendar, Settings, and Information sections.
The frame’s settings are fairly basic, allowing you to connect to a Wi-Fi network, connect and view connected devices, and modify the date and time. The Frame settings can also be tweaked by toggling auto-brightness, enabling a screensaver, and setting up Night Mode, where the clock screensaver will automatically be displayed during selected times. The frame also receives over-the-air (OTA) updates, which our review unit received as soon as it was connected to the internet. This is an excellent touch and shows that iDea plan to keep the device running smoothly in the future.
The Calendar is an unnecessary addition to the photo frame. There is no option to connect your existing digital calendar accounts. With no ability to add events, the Calendar app ends up just as a list of dates. The photo frame also bundles in an alarm feature, which is accessed by tapping the clock widget. No doubt useful to some, it seems out of place here. The Information screen could also be improved, not least by just renaming it Help. Tapping the Information icon offers up a slideshow of how-to images, from uploading photos, to starting slideshows.
Despite the HP label, the photo frame is in fact produced by iDea Electronics with a license to use the HP brand. So it has some HP design qualities that’ll be familiar if you’ve owned any of the company’s printers or laptops in the past. However, the integration between HP’s and iDea’s design aesthetic isn’t as seamless as it should be. A slightly confused mix of UI elements, varied fonts, and overlapping design elements (uploading a photo to the frame displays an almost transparent notification on top of the icons so that it is barely readable) makes the software feel slightly incomplete.
The Photo Frame
Most digital frames only allow you the option of plugging in physical media to display the photos. The HP DF1050TW builds on that by allowing you to send them from your smartphone using their Photo Drop cloud service.
To use Photo Drop, you need the HP Photo Frame app, which you connect to your frame using a QR code. The neat thing about this is that you can connect multiple devices to multiple frames. This sets up a scenario where families and relatives all have their own frame, and the family can share their photos to each other’s frames in real time.
You can find photos uploaded via Photo Drop by tapping the icon on the home screen, or under Photos > Cloud Album. Although Photo Drop is a great feature, it isn’t made clear anywhere that this is a cloud storage service with limits of 10 GB of data or five years, whichever comes first. If you want to use it past these limits, you will need to pay an as yet unspecified top-up fee.
Once you’ve navigated to the Photos section on the homescreen, you can view an individual photo by tapping on it. The frame even supports pinch-and-zoom when viewing individual photos. To start a slideshow, you need to tap anywhere on a full-screen photo to bring up the options panel. From there, select Play and a slideshow will begin. The options panel’s Settings allows you to display the calendar, change the transition style, and add background music.
A Frame For Your Home?
The HP DF1050TW does exactly what it needs to do — display your digital photos. The Photo Drop feature is a great feature and helps to bring the photo frame into our increasingly connected lives. However, for $150 the experience should be flawless.
iDea’s software, both on the frame and the accompanying app, doesn’t feel complete. The inclusion of OTA software updates indicates the possibility of improvements to the frame in the future. The unique design may not be to everyone’s tastes, and the bulky stand limits where you put the frame in your house.
That said, as we often give photo frames as gifts, and the HP DF1050TW is relatively simple to use, it is ideal for everyone in the family, regardless of their comfort with technology.