Samsung SPF-85V Digital Photo FrameFeb 18th, 2009 | By Simon
Samsung SPF-85V Digital Photo Frame
: 02/18/09 – 03:25:10 AM
Page 1 : Index
Samsung has long been known to make the largest LCD monitors and TVs available on the market. However, times have changed and they have also started looking at the smaller end of the market. They recently introduced several digital picture frames and they've been a huge hit this past holiday. With sizes ranging from a few inches to almost a dozen, you'll definitely be able to find one in your budget.
The SPF-85V isn't your basic digital picture frame. It not only has built in memory and card reader, but 802.11b/g wireless connectivity to sync up with your PC to receive photos.
Page 2 : Package & Contents
I was definitely surprised to see the size of box the SPF-85V came in, when you think digital picture frame, you think a slim and sleek profile. Not a box that's a few inches thick! Adorned on the box is a large picture of what the picture frame looks like and some of the features included.
Opening up the box we are greeted with the driver CD and quick installation guide. Below these two, you can see why the box is so large; there's a thick Styrofoam insert that the picture frame sits in.
Below the Styrofoam is an empty pocket which Samsung uses to store the stand, power cord and included USB cable. The large box is actually quite justifiable once you pull everything out.
Finally we have the digital picture frame itself.
Page 3 : SPF-85V Digital Photo Frame
The SPF-85V appears to be very sleek in design with an 8′ LCD panel with a 1.25′ bezel around. The screen itself is 6-7/16′ by 4-3/4′. The entire picture frame is 1.75′ thick before installation of the stand. With the bezel, the photo frame is 9′ by 7-5/16′.
If you take a closer look, there is a slight design to the bezel. The back of the picture frame isn't bland either. We have splashes of what looks like flowers or round edged snowflakes.
The ball socket in the middle is where you would install the stand, a relatively simple process that we'll go over in the installation & setup page. On the left side of the picture, you'll see the power connector jack and security lock.
On the inside bottom we have the product sticker. My digital picture frame was manufactured in October 2008. It takes a 12V supply and draws 2A putting our power draw at the 25W level. When we get to testing, we'll take a look at the actual power draw.
The connections for the digital photo frame are tucked behind the bezel, but that doesn't mean it will be out of sight. On this one side we have a USB A and USB B connection and a memory card insert slot. The specifications claim compact flash media can be read with the picture frame, but that is incorrect.
Towards the bottom right we have the power on and off button. Due to the overall look and texture of the picture frame, it took me a few minutes to find the button.
At the bottom left of the frame, we have the ear jack plug.
Page 4 : Features & Specifications
What makes you decide you
a digital photo frame? For starters, it's cool it show it off to your friends. If you're visiting friends and family after a trip, instead of lugging multiple photo albums you can carry the digital photo frame and a few flash drives. Everything would fit inside a small grocery bag no bigger than one photo album.
Here are some other features courtesy of Samsung.
Offering 802.11b/g wireless connectivity, the SPF-85V can be linked to your PC or directly to the Internet to receive automatic photo updates via a Windows Live Space or photo-sharing website that offers RSS feeds.
Built-in 64 MB Flash Memory
Built-in flash memory frees your memory card for more pictures. Or store your all-time favorites in the internal memory and keep a card updated with the latest and greatest.
Ball Hinge Stand and Wall Mount
A new ball hinge mechanism using an elastomer ball allows fluid movement and a more natural viewing angle. The wall mount function frees up space and creates an elegant look.
5-in-1 Memory Card Reader
The multi-source SPF-83V features a built-in card reader that accepts CompactFlash (CF), MultiMediaCard (MMC), Secure Digital (SD), Memory Stick and XD-Picture Card.
Dual USB Ports
With two styles of USB ports – 1 Type-A and 1 Type-B – the SPF-85V delivers valuable versatility. You can download files from your PC or directly from a USB thumb drive and even use the SPF-85V as a mini-monitor.
Page 5 : Physical Setup & Installation
The physical setup for the SPF-85V is incredible simple. The stand is pushed into the rubber ball socket which gives you lots of freedom in terms of standing up the picture frame. To wall mount the picture frame, you'll need to purchase an additional wall mounting accessory kit.
In the last photo above, you can see the design imprint I was referring to two pages ago. It's pretty simple and unobtrusive but at the same time it doesn't make the picture frame boring in appearance.
To load pictures onto the picture frame, you can either take advantage of the wireless connection or go with flash media or a SB connection.
Of course, the picture frame won't work without power. The power pack needs to be assembled and plugged into back.
Depending on what your need is, you can also plug in a pair of headphones.
Powering up the unit, we go through a simple Samsung splash screen and dive right into the setup page.
The options are pretty obvious: we can view photos, play some music, watch a movie, set the clock and alarm or view the settings page. You'll notice that the digital bezel does not cover up my USB flash drive. This is a very common problem with digital photo frames, the only way it could be solved is if they built an L-bracket such that the USB drive is plugged in and hidden behind the bezel.
You may be wondering how you navigate through the configuration page and the answer is hidden in the bezel. If you brush your hand across the bezel on the right, the panel will light up and a light touch will activate the key.
Page 6 : Software Settings
If you're starting up the digital photo frame for the first time, Samsung will walk you through a quick configuration page. It'll simply ask for your language and whether or not you want to use the Wi-Fi network. If you choose ‘yes’, it'll prompt you to select your access point and enter your security password. It would have been great if they GUI hid your password with asterisks and if you can manually input an SSID to use. If it is hidden, you need to unhide it in order for the SPF-85V to detect it. Once connected, it'll search for your PC.
As far as I know, you must run Windows Vista or XP and your media must be shared through Windows Media Player 11 and the Samsung Photo Frame must have the appropriate permissions to view the Shared media. Once you're done, it'll take you back to the
You'll notice in the photo above that the Samsung Photo Frame has a green checkmark beside it, indicating it has the appropriate permissions.
Once you've gone through the initial configuration page you can navigate through the main menu of viewing photos, playing music, watching a movie, checking the time and modifying more settings.
If you're connected to a PC via the Wi-Fi connection, the shared PC will show up under PC. If you have multiple PCs shared on your network, I can only imagine that it would list all the PCs.
If you've properly configured the wireless connection, you can tell on the top left corner of the main menu whether or not you are on the internet and connected to a PC. The internet connection allows you to browse pictures via RSS feeds or Windows Live Space photo sharing websites.
If you've connected any form of flash media to the digital photo frame, you'll see it at the top right. You can also tell if you've connected to a wall outlet for power or running on battery. In the photo below, I'm running on battery power as indicated by the battery icon.
If you've setup the Wi-Fi feature, you can make changes to the SPF-85V via your network. The administration page is relatively simple but it is quick to load and serves its purpose.
There's no point in owning a digital photo frame if you're not going to show pictures! Let's see how well the SPF-85V handles.
Page 7 : Performance & Testing
Throughout my testing, I found the keys on the side to be hyper-sensitive at times but not enough at others. When I was navigating through the Wi-Fi settings to input my WPA password, it would scroll through the letters of the keyboard extremely fast. However, when trying to work the buttons to navigate through the menu it seemed the keys weren't always responding to my actions. I find it's a bit of a hit and miss and that's primarily through the fact that the keys are touch sensitive behind the bezel and have no tactile response. While it keeps the profile of the photo frame slim and sleek, it could frustrate you over time.
The resolution of the picture frame is 800×600 which is sufficient to show the details of most pictures. Whatever processor Samsung has decided to use, I did find it struggled a bit with some of my large panorama photos. However, the pictures still looked great.
While watching the slideshow of pictures, there is a menu feature that gives you some control over how things are going. You can start and stop the slideshow, modify the brightness, rotate the picture, change the aspect ratio, delete the picture, set the picture as the background for the photo frame or choose the appropriate background music.
With background music comes volume adjustment, a simple up to increase the volume and down to decrease. With a range of 0 to 100, I'm very pleased at how loud and how well these two little speakers work.
The digital photo frame has the capabilities to play movies and with the battery, it would be pretty convenient to take this around and just watch a video where you normally wouldn't have access to a TV and DVD player. You just need to rip a movie onto a USB drive or flash memory card and you're good to go.
Here's a quick capture from the movie Max Payne.
Much like viewing photos, you do have a menu option with movies. You have the power to adjust the brightness and select how you want the video to be played.
The final feature you can use the SPF-85V is to play music. The photo frame has no problems playing your favourite MP3 files. The audio controls are very limited, but this is a photo frame and not an oversized MP3 player. For what it does, I'm pretty content.
From my use of the SPF-85V Digital Photo Frame, I can say I'm pleased with the performance. The images and video files I played turned out quite well despite only being a 800×600 resolution monitor. I definitely would have preferred 1024×768 as it would make the pictures look smoother. There aren't very many instances where I'm seeing rough edges but I am able to see individual pixels.
Page 8 : SPF-85V Mini-Monitor
The SPF-85V is not just a digital photo frame; it doubles as an 8′ USB LCD monitor. The driver CD includes a piece of software called ‘Frame Manager’ and if you install it, it will add the necessary drivers for you to use the photo frame as a second monitor. The software is not intended to allow you to use the photo frame as the primary monitor.
Once you've installed the software, reset your computer and connect the SPF-85V to your PC via the included USB cable. The SPF-85V will prompt you as to whether or not you want the USB to act as a mass storage, in which case the picture frame treats the computer as a storage device, or as a mini-monitor.
If you chose mini-monitor, it turns into your second monitor. I can see many great uses for this – dedicated twitter window, IM window, e-mail, etc.
It almost looks as if you could get 1024×768 resolution on the monitor, but you can't. I briefly used the SPF-85V to visit our home page and check up on the SPF-85V user manual.
Page 9 : Power Consumption & Battery
In an effort to minimize power consumption around the house to reduce greenhouse gas emissions, it's important for us to know how much power each piece of hardware we have takes up. I've managed to get my hands on a P3 Kill-A-Watt and I've been using it wherever I can. With the SPF-85V, there is no power consumption with the unit off and fully charged, otherwise it draws 8W. With Wi-Fi enabled and storage devices plugged in, the SPF-85V required between 9 and 10W for operation, regardless of whether it was running through a slideshow or playing a movie. When charging the internal battery, it takes 12W.
When unplugged from the AC outlet and cycling through a slideshow, the battery lasts 42 minutes before warning you that the battery is dying. On the 43rd minute, the unit shut itself off.
Page 10 : Conclusion
When the idea of a digital picture frame first came up, I wasn't quite sure why anyone would want that. You could easily show all your pictures from your laptop and PC or in a photo album. I can't see many people changing a small 4′x6′ picture so frequently that they would consider buying a digital picture frame. However, these devices have proven to be far more versatile than I originally thought. Your standard picture frame doesn't come with movies, it doesn't play slide shows when guests are over and there's no sound with them.
In addition to the above mentioned features, the SPF-85V comes with 802.11b/g allowing you to load pictures wireless from your home computer or from a guest. It also doubles as an 8′ mini-monitor, allowing you to focus on work with the primary monitor and leave a smaller window dedicated to applications like Twitter, media player, e-mail or instant messaging.
Finding actual complaints and flaws with the SPF-85V is like finding a needle in a haystack. The photo frame has just the odd weakness to it and they are more nitpicks than anything else: a slightly more controlled touch interface, actual 5-in-1 flash media support as CF is not supported by this device despite what the specifications say and improved location of the storage devices to be able to hide USB drives. The only place I'd like to see Samsung further develop is with the LCD panel, for a company with such strength in monitors and TVs, what happened to 1024×768?
Even with the odd needle, this haystack is still a gem. The SPF-85V is loaded with features and would make for a great gift to friends and family so they can relive past memories.
- Sleek and simple looking, with a subtle design
- Shows photos, plays movies and songs
- Wireless connection available
- Doubles as a mini-monitor for your PC
- No 1024×768 resolution
- Pricey at time of review ($200.00)
I'd like to thank Samsung Canada for lending us a sample for review.