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.
Summary of Sony VAIO VGF-CP1It’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.
Reviewed by David Artiss on 24th September 2009.