Sony VAIO VGF-CP1 Photo Frame

Sony VAIO VGF-CP1 angled view with remote

My bargain of a photo frame turned up last week, and it’s a corker.

The frame is very square in appearance with a clear plastic section at the bottom. This contains status lights and the whole section can glow blue1. Unlike other frames there is no bevel between the screen and the surrounding frame, which makes it look like a single piece. Indeed the screen quality is so good, it looks like a printed photo stuck to the front of a slab of plastic!

The menu options aren’t overly intuitive but it doesn’t take long to work it out. Coming from a “normal” photo frame one thing you need to grasp initially is Sony’s concept of “Frames”. These are collections of photos and you can easily flip between frames, via the included slimline remote control, or timed. Yes, timed. The timing function will even bring the frame out of standby. Thankfully, Sony have thought to have a timed power-off function as well, meaning that you can set the entire device to start and end at particular times of day (saving you have to turn it off overnight, and making a useful security function as you can have the frame left on whilst you’re out).

Back to the frames – you can set different types up based on templates. These can be tweaked a little, but not to a great extent. For example, one such template is “Photo and Info” which will add a clock and scrolling RSS data to the photo. By use of the remote you can turn on or more of these “extras” off. However, if you don’t want these then the basic photo template would sound the better option. Except the photo display options with this are limited. So I ended up using the Photo and Info option and then turning the latter off. Hmmm. It works, but is a strange way to do it.

Yes, it has Wi-fi, and I immediately set it up to connect to my network and my Picasa Web Albums account. So, right now, it’s displaying photos from my Picasa account.

The photo frame also comes with a CD-ROM that allows you to set up your PC as a photo and music server – a useful function if you leave your PC on all the time but as I don’t, I’ve not made use of it. However, it does include streaming radio functionality (and the speakers in the frame are rather good considering their size) via SHOUTcast. Unfortunately, it doesn’t work – a post on a forum would suggest this is due to the SHOUTcast URL changing. A firmware update from Sony would be the solution but as this frame now appears to be discontinued, I’m guessing one is not forthcoming.

I have a NAS drive connected to my wireless network and the frame immediately recognised this. In fact, it also found the NAS’ in-built music server and connected to that.

One problem I did have was registering the product. The Sony UK site doesn’t seem to know of the product when you search for it. It’s a VAIO, but when you go into the VAIO part of the site, it’s to do with the branded computers and not photo frames. General product registration, again, didn’t recognise the product.

So, I gave Sony a call and, credit where it’s due, immediately sorted the issue out. Although a touch confusing, it’s covered by the VAIO brand – however, all their other photo frames are not. Anyway, there is a specific page for VAIO registrations2 and once the model details are entered, the product is recognised and registered.

There are video demonstrations available, and also the inevitable “unboxing“.

Gallery

Summary

It’s a great frame and needs snapping up whilst at a brilliant price. In the US Sony are selling this for £250. Dabs has this for £83. A bargain.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=oatks-1x8U8
  1. you can have it on all the time, off all the time or get it come on when there’s some kind of status update []
  2. although is does seem to be PC-centric []

Sony VAIO VGF-CP1

£83
Sony VAIO VGF-CP1
10

Rating

100/10

    The Good

    • - Good looking product
    • - Excellent screen
    • - Lots of options, including WiFi streaming
    • - Value for money

    The Bad

    • - Some odd choices of display configuration
    • - Support is a little confusing

    David Artiss

    David is the owner and main author of this website. Working as an IT Professional for 25 years and programming for far longer, he is a self-confessed geek and gadget fan. Overweight, glasses wearing and having a deep interest in science fiction and comic book heroes, he doesn't avoid the stereotype.

    22 Responses

    1. chauke says:

      Hi, I mislaid the CD ROM that came with the photo frame. where can I download the media software?anybody help please!

      • Steve says:

        I am also looking for the CD that came with the (white) UK version, because the US (black) version only works with VAIO media server. Anyone willing to post it? The frame itself is open source, but I’m not sure about the desktop software.

    2. megaseba says:

      Hello.
      I’m lost with Japanese translation :-(
      What about the english firmware??

      • David says:

        It looks like it will never happen – the frame is discontinued and the Japanese firmware has never been translated. A shame Sony are still happy to sell remaining stocks of the product and immediately give up support.

    3. aulas says:

      I own a cp1 bought in china, does anybody have the us firmware?

      • Dan says:

        Hey, Is there anybody that might have an English version
        of the firmware, even the original one ? Please help !!!

    4. Paul says:

      Fred, Whats the username and passsword for the japanese web config page, i can navigate to it, but i can’t find the freely available v2 manual

    5. Fred says:

      Hello,

      Some more quick impressions on the V2 firmware –

      1) Definitely more responsive;
      2) Web access to the frame itself for some configuration via a browser. Have had a chance to have a quick play now. Config options are

      .1) Configure shufoo, picasa, upto five samba shares. When credentials are entered here they cannot be seen via the photo frame’s configuration page;
      .2) Set hostname, view status page – i.e. mac address, ip address, firmware version, free memory;
      .3) Configure rss feeds – upto 20 can be specified;
      .4) Change username and password for access to frame itself. The default username and password are published in the freely available pdf instructions from Sony – check out page 91.

      3) Added a new photo to an existing Picasa album. It was not refreshed immediately while viewing that album the VGF-CP1. Going out then back into the album and the new picture was recognised
      4) Changed a photo in that same Picasa album. Change did not seem to be picked up
      after going out of then back into the album or after switching off then on the unit. This is a bit of a disappointment (again for my particular strange use case) but it seems there are some new options which I’ve not yet been able to figure out.

      Sorry for the piecemeal approach.

    6. Fred says:

      Hello again.

      I figured out the firmware update process. Embarrassingly I missed the instruction to place the update image in a folder called ‘Update’ on the usb stick (presumably it needs to be in the root of the usb stick, which is here I placed it anyway).

      First impressions for any curious people –

      1) Update applies without a hitch and thankfully the wifi settings are not lost;
      2) Essentially everything is in Japanese. Quite obvious but perhaps worth stating. This might be a rather crazy thing to do for those that cannot read Japanese (which includes me) but from the V2 manual the icons seemed to be the same so I figured it would be easy enough to navigate around;
      3) Generally much improved responsiveness – navigating around menus and frames feels much nicer, Opera loads in a couple of seconds as opposed to a while. A nice surprise;
      4) RSS feeds seem to update more often;
      5) Picasa and media server settings gone, not yet had a chance to see if pictures update more frequently (although I expect they do from the update notes).

    7. Fred says:

      Hi,

      Sorry, couldn’t resist. I’ve downloaded the firmware and followed the (translated at http://translate.google.com/translate?hl=en&sl=ja&u=http://vcl.vaio.sony.co.jp/download/EP0000177017.htmlv) instructions as far as copying the firmware image to a usb stick, turning off the frame’s wifi via the physical switch on the back of the frame, then plugging in the usb stick. As I understand it, the firmware update should start automatically but nothing appears to happen. Any advice/guesses would be appreciated.

      • David says:

        I agree.

        I often find, as I did with my previous HP frame, that photos needs to be a little over-saturated to display nicely on the frame. However, those I upload online for the Sony frame, I often forget to modify. By the time I modify them, they’ve been cached and the changes aren’t reflected. The only option is to dig through the menus and clear out the whole cache each time.

    8. Fred says:

      Has anyone else noticed that this frame caches photos very aggressively? In particular mine seems not to update photos from a PC or Picasa more than once per day. I know this is entirely reasonable but I was hoping, for my admittedly strange use case, that it would update more frequently.

      I’m very keen on trying out the V2.0 firmware – has anyone tried with an English version (VGF-CP1E)?

    9. George Katsanevakis says:

      I tried it yesterday , as it had problem to take ip from dhcp I set manually static ip address from my subnet and the DNS servers from my provider and everything worked ok plus the SHOUTcast Radio. The only things missing are the copy MP3 from usb stick to internal memory (copy MP3 from DLNA server works) and international font (unicode) support. I can not read greek web pages, RSS feeds or set greek folders/filenames to files.

    10. Andy says:

      Bought this solely to send photos to grandparents via web. It does link to Picasa no problem. But then the problems really start. There are 4 “Frame” options you can use to display your photos. The first puts a huge clock on the pictures, in the top left of the screen, this cannot be turned off!! WTF Were sony thinking? The second has transitions, sort of zooming in or out of each photo, again it cannot be turned off, and very often never displays the full photo, so all you see is a body with head missing (In particular on portrait photos), The third option displays file information on the bottom of each photo (The Picasa account used and the time the file was uploaded) Again, this cannot be switched off. The fourth option is not available for photos stored on the web.

      So basically, this PHOTO FRAME cannot be used just display photos, without a load of extra crap being superimposed on top of them. I am so frustrated, how could this get through Sony QA process? Built by a bunch of techies with no idea about the real world I suspect.

      • David says:

        Andy – there is a button on the remote that will turn these off. And it will remember your settings too.

        Until I realised this I too thought I was stuck with a clock, etc, on the screen! 😉

    11. FoxyBOA says:

      Hi Guys!

      Did you try to update a firmware on English VGF-CP1? Was everything OK (e.g. English language is in place)?

      Hope for an answer.

    12. Mark says:

      Got my photoframe and VERY pleased with it. The quality vastly outclasses all the other frames I have seen.

      It does have a couple of quirks. It seems to fit pictures to the frame size when running from Wifi or SD card, but when it’s copied to the internal memory it does not. Anyone else confirm this?

      Also trying to find a firmware update for this device, or any kind of recognition by SonyEU that it even exists. It seems they have moved onto newer more exciting things, like kids with new toys.

    13. Mark says:

      Very tempted with one of these, Argos have a deal on a Vaio netbook half price, with one of the frames for free. Desperately tryng to find out if it’s DLNA certified. I want to hook it up to my twonkymedia NAS server (on my Sheevaplug). I also want to be able to push content to it.

    14. lifaung says:

      The SHOUTcast issue has been solved by a firmware update from sony in April 2009. The only problem is the update is in japaness only. Although the update could be use for English version, the photo frame will be in japaness language. Also, the update added many new functions such as the Windows Live FrameIt support, use a PC to setting your settings of the VGF-CP1(size of play back, RSS, etc), Zooming function during photo play back……


      Sorry for my poor English.

    1. November 9, 2010

      […] anybody try to upgrade firmware at English Sony VGF-CP1? I found Japanese version of the firmware 2.0, but not sure it will fit and my frame will have English […]

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