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12-10-2009 09:20 AM - edited 12-10-2009 11:04 AM
I got this for my mom as a Christmas present. I got her a Westinghouse 14 inch frame a couple of years ago and that set the size bar pretty high. With the HP Dreamscreen I hoped to improve upon the previous frame in several areas.
With the previous frame, found that having a digital frame is a lot of work if you have to change out the pictures on a memory card all the time - especially if you don't live near your parents. So I was hoping to find a way to do this remotely. The Snapfish option sounded promising (but why no flickr, photobucket or imageshack?). Facebook seemed sketchier to me, as Facebook already crunches your photos when you upload them and doesn't even present them THAT well on a PC screen.
I was correct in that and my experience so far is that the Facebook photo feeds do not look very crisp.
After playing around, I have figured out the difference in the wi-fi transfer and the USB connected transfer to the frame. Wi-fi works ok. I'm still playing with that using the software.
After looking over the PDF that came with the screen, I decided to investigate the transfer software. That has been a bit troublesome. I tried dragging and dropping into the section to transfer the pictures but they don't seem to be transferring. I get a lot of "indexing files" messages but the pictures do not make it over to the frame. I'm pretty sure that I'm doing something wrong, but it is not intuitive to me what I should be doing.
I tried transferring them to the frame as an external storage device in the myphotos folder and that was a disaster! I got a STOP blue-screen error from Windows that forced me to reboot my computer. When I did, the Dreamscreen had two corrupted image files in the storage that I could NOT delete. I tried everything and finally took a long shot on deleting the .media.db file and sure enough that worked. I had already deleted the demo pictures so that left me with no photos on the screen. I called it a night and will try again today. I'm not finding the experience of using the software to be very user friendly.
Another concern that I had when ordering this unit was that both the 10.2 and 13.3 inch versions of the frame appeared to have the same resolution of 800x480. The PDF manual included with the frame says the Model 130 has 1280x800 resolution but on Amazon I see that the 13.3 (Model 130) is shown as having "800x480 upscaled to 1280x800." I have no idea what that actually means. I'm going to take a guess and say that maybe the frame has 1280x800 pixels but the graphic card only handles 800x480 and they are using an algorithm to try and fill in the holes before they send the picture to the screen? Anyone know for sure? This creates a problem for me because I am proficient with Photoshop and would like to crop my pictures to the correct size and sharpen and post process them for the frame. I don't know whether to save the pics as 800x480 or 1280x800 right now. Very frustrating. I believe this may be what makes the pictures appear very fuzzy to me.
I am also surprised at the washed-out colors I'm seeing on the frame. I have uploaded pictures to a dummy snapfish account to see how they display and I think they look washed out. Certainly not as bright, crisp and punchy as the two year-old Westinghouse frame that I got my mother before. I will give this frame points for having a better viewing angle than the Westinghouse which was pretty bad if you weren't viewing it fairly straight-on. But overall I am a little disappointed with the images on the frame. I've even tried amping the saturation up to the point that the images look ridiculous on my (calibrated with Spyder) screen and they still end up being very desaturated on the HP Dreamscreen. Not sure why...
Pandora radio is pretty cool. The sound is above average but it only goes so loud and starts to get tinny at higher volumes. It is a neat "gee-whiz" feature though. I haven't played with HP radio yet.
Facebook has been buggy for me. I even updated to the latest firmware when I fired the frame up for the first time (and another bright spot was that the frame logged onto my wi-fi flawlessly and easily.) But Facebook is SLOW and the pictures don't look great from Facebook, as I suspected they would not. The Facebook feature would actually make the frame worth buying for that alone if only those pictures were better quality.
The remote control works well, the controls are ok. Not great, but there are worse out there.
I spent a bit of time trying to change the slideshow settings for the Snapfish account before I realized that you have to be in the PHOTOS section. Press options there and you change the transition, length of time each photo shows on the frame and various photo options for ALL of the different modules (facebook, snapfish, etc...)
I have not tried streaming from a shared PC yet. Maybe that will be the solution I am looking for in order to keep the pictures up-to-date.
One good point to HP is the packaging. When you open the frame, it is almost like opening a jewelry case. The box is well designed and everything inside is protected nicely and the presentation is outstanding. If the product lived up to the packaging it would get 5 stars all the way!
So... after that review of my experience so far, here are my questions:
1. What is the secret to getting the software to transfer pictures to the frame? When do I drag and drop the pictures and when should I plug in the USB. I think that I'm doing one of these at the wrong time - maybe?
2. Can you just drag and drop to the myphotos folder via Windows (XP) with the HP Dreamscreen as an external storage device, or is that forbidden?
3. What is the correct screen resolution for the Dreamscreen 130? What should I size my pictures at for best presentation on the screen?
4. Is there any way to increase the color saturation on the screen?
This product REALLY has the potential to be an incredible device, but right now it feels like it might have been rushed to make the Christmas shopping season and not quite ready for prime-time. Hopefully HP is working fast and furiously on driver updates to improve the experience. This is a great product with a little fine tuning.
12-10-2009 12:59 PM
Great writeup!....and great questions! I wish I had the answers for you but I don't own a Dreamscreen. I was considering purchasing several of them to give as Xmas presents but I had several questions myself. Several days ago I posted the following questions hoping to get them answered in time to order the Dreamscreen prior to Xmas.
No luck so far. I suppose that no one has either the time or answers for what I asked. Hopefully someone can help you out. Good luck. I look forward to seeing the response to your questions.
12-10-2009 02:49 PM
Please post rather than send me a Message. It's good for the community and I might not be able to get back quickly. - Thank you.
12-10-2009 04:01 PM
Thanks for the helpful response but regarding the screen resolution I would really like to know the correct screen resolution for the 130. I like to have full control over how the photos are going to be presented and if I am able to correctly send them to the frame then I can take the frame's redrawing out of the equation and I'm able to take any software cropping out of the equation.
I wonder if anyone there can explain the "800 x 480 upscaled to 1280 x 800" resolution in the manual and offer any tips on how the pictures will be handled.
12-13-2009 03:00 PM
Tom: I'm with you on the resolution and saturation questions. I'm replacing my parents Philips frame and love the Dreamscreen for the potential remote upload reasons (updating a Snapfish account and having their frame just magically have new pictures), but I'm finding some basic things quite frustrating.
A) The resolution issue. I thought I was buying a 130 not just for the extra inches, but also for the extra resolution, but the "upscaling" is not worth it. I, like you, find there is no reason to give it higher than 800x480 in terms of quality. I find both softer than a quality monitor. (Meaning I think the upscale is acutally softening the image.) My guess is the Dreamscreen 100 might look better.
B) I also think the saturation is terribly weak and nowhere near default. It would be nice if you could get a Saturation control like you have Brightness control. (After all, it's only software.) I do find the demo images bright and plenty colorful, but my guess is if I were to transfer those over to the PC, they'd be crazy super-saturated. It'd be nice if HP could give you a colorspace to work in so we could reasonably predict what the frame is going to look like.
C) I find the VIDEO support so far terrible. I have no idea what the limitations are for encoding h264 or mp4 videos, but so far none I have encoded at 800x450 or 800x480 (450 being 16:9) have played at all on the Dreamscreen. They say they support these codecs but there are clearly limitations. Is it the bitrate that's wrong? The resolution? The flavor of the codec? I have no way of knowing and there's next to nothing on documentation or actual support from an HP technician. If you happen to find answers somewhere, please let me know where, because right now this does not seem to be a very well-supported product.
The DreamScreen has a lot of potential but right now it is a half-baked product with a lot of flaws and missing holes.
Even just a little technical information would be a huge help.
12-16-2009 10:32 PM
Just a little hint HP...
Open Source this thing and they will start to fly off the shelves... Hp obviously isnt putting solid cash into further development, and this forum shows people know the capability is there if only software would take advantage of it.
Just a hint.
12-27-2009 12:43 PM
There is an 'open_source.exe on the install software cd, but it doesn't unpack on windows 7. They used GPL'd code from the look of the readme, so hard working and passionate students and kids may make this terrible product into something useful in the future.
Here's my review: http://www.chrisevans3d.com/pub_blog/?p=409
01-03-2010 08:25 PM - edited 01-03-2010 08:33 PM
I unpacked the open_source file on Vista and it worked fine. I am not a code jocky so it is all jibberish to me. However, I can tell that it is all Linux packages and C code. I can rezip everything as a standard zip file if anyone is interested in seeing what they can do with it.
03-12-2010 12:54 AM
Has anyone done anything for the this device it has so much potential!?? I would really like someone to enhance the alarm clock features like add an indicator i mean how hard is that? Oh and what if i work every sunday and monday but i dont wanna have to set the alarm everytime its just annoying please someone save this device!