Philips AJL308: Wait for Version 2

by alec on November 14, 2007

I've been a fan of the digital picture frame concept for a long time.  In the late 1990's, for example, I lugged a prototype that we had built in the Microsoft Home group around various home networking shows all over North American and Europe just to show off the idea. People went gaga for it. 

So when blogs like Engadget and CNet Crave started to write about the Philips AJL308 Digital Picture Frame and Clock Radio, I was pretty interested. The premise– wake up to pictures of your loved ones — was pretty compelling. I thought that Janice would particularly appreciate it, and if it was really easy to use, it might be just the thing to give as Christmas gifts to the grand parents. So I ripped over  to eBay and bought one to check it out.


Alas, although the idea is great, Philips execution of it sucks

  • Setting the time and other configuration options is reminiscent of trying to use a 1970's era digital watch.  "Press this button twice, wait for the flash, then pirouette through the hopscotch court, stand on your head and press the clock button one more time."  Your spouse, mother, or grandmother is not going to be able to set this thing up. 
  • Once you've gone through the mental stress of configuring the device, do NOT unplug it.  There's no battery back-up.  You'll be configuring it all over again.  In fact, don't even open the configuration menu, because periodically it seems to simply lose all of the configuration if you're simply in the configuration menu.
  • The resolution is awful.  Worse yet, it doesn't scale the pictures properly by default.  Instead it displays them in "widescreen" mode, a.k.a. chopping the top and bottom of the picture off.  You can forget about showing all those beautiful pictures you snapped with your spiffy digital SLR.  They look awful on this device. 
  • The software is moronic too.  For instance, in slideshow mode, large images of your pictures cycle like a slide show.  However, in clock mode, only one picture is ever displayed on screen.  Why doesn't the little onscreen polaroid behave like the slide show.

I could go on.  There were lots more problems, and I was very disappointed.  You will be too.  Save your money for version 2.

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