The frame looks a lot like a mini version of the display on Apple's original iMac flat-panel all-in-one computers, with a clear frame around a white border that surrounds the 5.4-by-3.6-inch, 133ppi LCD panel. From a viewing perspective, a black border around the display is preferable because it increases the perceived contrast and makes the picture pop a little more. But this is a minor gripe; we really like the look of the frame, which also comes in a wood-tone version for those looking for a less modern, more traditionally styled frame. The adjustable--and removable--stand on its back lets you set the frame either vertically or horizontally on a table or other surface.
The 16-bit (65,536 potential colors) display has 12MB of memory built into it, which allows you to store between 50 and 80 photos--internally. Additionally, around back you'll find slots for CompactFlash, SD, MMC, and Memory Stick memory cards, which give you the ability to display hundreds or even thousands of photos. You can choose to leave the images on the card or transfer however many will fit into the display's remaining internal memory. A USB port, also on the back, lets you upload photos from a USB flash drive or straight from your camera, as long as the latter allows peer-to-peer transfer.
The one small advantage to transferring the photos to the display's internal memory is that as part of the copying process, the unit automatically resizes the images to the size of the display (720x540). For instance, we shot some images with an Olympus Evolt 500 dSLR that started out with resolutions of 3,264x2,448 that were subsequently trimmed down. However, the only real impact of the smaller file sizes is that transition effects in slide-show mode--you can select between none, fade, slide, scroll, snake, or random--work more smoothly. In other words, if you have a fairly high-capacity memory card (512MB or more), you're probably better off just loading the card with photos and leaving it in the display.
Aside from the ability to accept memory cards, we liked the Philips Photo Display's built-in rechargeable lithium-ion battery, which allows you to place the frame wherever you like--or pass it around--without worrying about it being within reach of a power outlet. Of course, if you want, you can leave it plugged in and not worry about recharging it. Depending on the brightness setting--yes, it's adjustable--a fully charged battery offers only as much as 50 minutes of operation, which makes the feature less practical.
One other small gripe: its menus aren't intuitive to navigate right out of the box. Although it didn't take us that long to figure things out--and a quick read of the manual certainly helped--the unit's internal GUI (graphical user interface) could be a little more user-friendly, and the button icons might be tweaked to be a tad clearer. In other words, while the Philips Photo Display has the Apple look, it doesn't have the Apple interface.
Fans of Ceiva photo frames, which allow you to automatically "push" photos to them via the Internet--a convenient option for those who want to send regular photo updates to a grandparent or other family members--will note that this model doesn't offer that feature. On the other hand, you won't have to pay a monthly fee to actually use your frame.
In the final analysis, the Philips Digital Photo Display gets a lot of things right. Although some may think it's slightly expensive at $250--$199 would be a preferable price point--it does offers expansion slots for most memory cards, a sleek design, rechargeable battery, and most importantly, a high-quality image. We have no problem recommending it.