Samsung's Digital Frames include USB monitor support

Samsung's series of LCDs scratch the same itch as yesterday's MIMO mini-displays. Connect them via USB to your computer and even without a spare monitor port, you can extend your desktop by between eight and ten diagonal inches. That's not enough screen real estate to do anything spectacular with, but it is a nice little digital corral for IM contact windows, system monitoring widgets, PhotoShop tool boxes and the like. What makes the Samsung more interesting than the MIMO, though, is that acting as a USB mini-display isn't its primary gigs: these are actually digital frames, featuring 1GB of internal storage and a built-in memory card slot. The mini-display functionality is just a nice little perk. The 800x600 8-incher goes for around $142 while the 1024x600 inch 10-incher costs about $204. Samsung Digital Frames Double As A Second PC Monitor [Technabob]
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6 Responses to Samsung's Digital Frames include USB monitor support

  1. Gita T says:

    Or you could just get a Ceiva and stop hassling with all that, which is what I did. Image quality is great, 4:3 aspect ratio, connects by Wi-Fi, manage everything with my online account so I don’t have to bother with any frame menus. So much easier.

  2. David Stein says:

    Wow, coincidental timing!

    I just got one of these last week. It’s sitting on my desk, right over there ——–> …

    (Side-note: The digital picture frame market is DISMAL… filled with terrible offerings. All I wanted was a frame with decent resolution and screen size, that can connect to a WPA-protected 802.11 net and fetch photos from Flickr/Picasa/Spaces, at a decent price. Simple, right? But I had to check out DOZENS of frames before I found even ONE that qualified. STUPID experience and lots of wasted time.)

    Mini-review – the good:

    * The auxiliary display element is nice! It worked seamlessly in 64-bit Vista (an incredibly rare experience!) I think they pull off this feat by dropping the update frequency – feels like 30Hz, maybe a bit less – but, hey, it’s not like you’re gonna Counter-Strike on this thing. In general, the screen quality (resolution and bit depth) is perfectly acceptable for use as an auxiliary display.

    * Even better – when you connect the frame via USB, your host machine runs a little tray icon widget. You can use this to toggle between two communications modes: the auxiliary-display mode and a file-store mode, where you can just access the contents of the frame through an Explorer pane. Very nice!

    * The firmware is pretty. :) Nice menus, sound effects, etc.

    * The hardware of the frame feels solid and looks attractive. Samsung decided not to plant buttons all over the frame that ruin the aesthetic. Instead, the right side of the frame has some touch-sensor that light up when in use, and vanish otherwise. It’s a neat idea!

    * WiFi network setup is comparatively easy, and the network connection works fine.

    The bad:

    * The screen quality is marginal for photos. With even commodity digicams hitting the eight-megapixel mark, it’s painful to have to downsample to 800×600. Many frames are 1024×768 or better at an attractive price point (but so far, they’re all crippled by stupidly bad firmware… check the customer reviews at Amazon before buying ANY frame.)

    * There’s an integrated battery… but check this out – according to the documentation, it takes two hours to charge but only lasts 40 minutes. I have NO idea how that is useful in any way.

    * The touch-sensor buttons, while a great idea, are difficult to use. Of course, there’s no tactile feedback, and the firmware isn’t consistent about providing an immediate audio cue for each button presses. Worse, the buttons are kind of crammed together, so it’s easy to hit the wrong button by accident.

    * The firmware is WAY too complicated. Menu setup is overly complex. Much fumbling and trial-and-error in figuring out how to navigate through menus with the non-intuitive buttons. Even worse, SOME functions are available on the frame, and OTHER functions are available by HTTPing into the frame from a networked machine… these configuration options are VERY badly factored.

    HOWEVER… this is the frame I settled on after checking out 30+ frames. I’m using this for a specific purpose (I’m giving this to my parents, and I want to configure the frame to fetch photos from a public image site with zero interaction), and for this scenario, this is the best frame on the market.

    – David Stein

  3. Piedmont says:

    Why aren’t there more of these USB secondary displays? That’s two in two days, and exactly the sort of thing I was looking for about a month ago.

  4. SeppTB says:

    I’d love to see these with all that picture frame nonsense stripped out, I feel like I’d be paying a lot for features I have no interest in to get that extra tiny monitor. I wonder if Samsung notices enough sales of these for use as extra monitors rather than picture frames, they’ll market cheaper stripped down versions. Probably not.

  5. Anonymous says:

    ACB from post #3 is right about the hassle of USB. Should’ve used other type of input. Just bought one, as a monitor, it’s useless because the firmware doesn’t install on x64.

    read on here

  6. acb says:

    Annoyingly enough, there is no standard for USB displays. There is DisplayPort™, which is a proprietary protocol by a company who provide closed-source Windows drivers for it, and Samsung’s protocol (which may be the same or different). Needless to say, there’s no Linux support for these devices.

    I wonder when someone will make an LCD display which runs on a documented standard. Perhaps something based on VNC would be a good protocol for such a device?

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