The Philips AJL308 clock radio/photo frame is a tricky product to review. What makes it tough is that on one level the idea of combining a clock radio with a digital photo frame is a really cool concept--and in many ways the AJL308 succeeds. But at the same time it's got some issues that make you wish that Philips would hurry up and make a new, improved version.
On the positive side, the AJL308 is cosmetically attractive, though the gloss black finish around the 7-inch (diagonal) wide-screen display is a fingerprint magnet. The back of the frame is white and bulges out at the bottom, creating a sturdy stand that puts the frame at a good angle for viewing.
Philips also loaded the AJL308 with features. First and foremost, the LCD displays date and time (you get dual alarms), as well as images stored on an optional SD/MMC memory card or thumbdrive that fit into slots on the side of the frame. You can choose to display the photos in a slide show format across the whole frame or have them appear in a smaller box next to the time and date in "clock" mode. If you choose the "wide-screen" option from the settings menu, your photos will be fit to the screen and end up being slightly cropped. If you go with standard 4:3 option, they'll appear as they were shot but with black bars on either side of the image.
On the clock radio front, there's an FM radio with 20 presets (the presets are a little bit of a pain to set, but 20 is a lot), plus two alarms, a sleep timer with interval options between 15 and 60 minutes, and a dimmer/snooze bar conveniently placed at the top of the frame.
Beyond its photo capabilities, the AJL308 also plays back MP3 and WMA files and select video files from your SD/MMC card or thumbdrive. By select we mean limited--we didn't have any luck with videos that we'd shot with a handful of cameras from leading manufacturers (Canon, Nikon, Olympus) and the one video that did start playing (from a Samsung camera) didn't have any sound. You're supposed to be able to play back MPEG4 files, but the frame didn't recognize a CNET TV video that was an MPEG4, so we assume it plays back only certain flavors of MPEG4. We had better luck with DivX. The "One: Space Odyssey" short we downloaded from the Stage6 Web site played fine, and DivX aficionados should be quite pleased with this feature. It's also worth noting that the frame is compatible with the DivX VOD service, which means it can be registered and used to play back DivX files you'd rent or buy (download) from an online DivX VOD service.