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Speakers, Ports, and Jacks

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Along the left side of the frame (when looking from the front), we find the pair of USB ports and the multi-card reader. The regular USB port can be used to read flash drives and other USB mass storage devices, displaying this content on the frame. The mini-USB port is used mostly for the Mini Monitor function, which we’ll discuss in just a moment. The multi-card reader is pretty straightforward.

The power button has been cleverly integrated into the back of the SPF-85V, blending in with the textured pattern on the back. And along the right side of the frame (when looking from the front), you’ll find a 3.5mm audio jack in case you want to listen to your own music (and movies) in peace.

More Than Just a Photo Frame

As mentioned earlier, there’s more than meets the eye when it comes to this product. It’ll do the usual digital picture frame stuff, of course, and that will be its primary function in most homes. However, you can also navigate your way through the menu to use it as a movie player, music player, digital clock, RSS reader, and even as a secondary monitor for your PC.

This added versatility adds a great deal of value to the Samsung SPF-85V, since you don’t have to use it just as a picture frame. The limited functionality of other frames may make them seem less useful; the Samsung frame overcomes that concern in spades.

Establishing a Wi-Fi Connection

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Many digital photo frames come with an integrated Wi-Fi radio, letting you grab content not only from the other computers in your home, but also through a variety of online sources. For example, I could use the IPEVO Kaleido R7 to grab my Flickr photostream.

The user interface on the Samsung SPF-85V is very aesthetically pleasing and getting through the menus isn’t a problem (although it can lag and be a little slow at times), but entering your network credentials can be a huge pain without a physical keyboard. You need to use the arrow keys to move through the on-screen keyboard. A touchscreen would be very handy in that respect.

But even before I got that far, I found one rather glaring issue with choosing my Wi-Fi access point. The Samsung frame can only “see” the networks with visible SSIDs. My home network is configured as to hide the SSID broadcast, so I could not connect to it. There should have been an option to enter the SSID manually.

The Automatic Photo Slideshow

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Regarding the core functionality of showing our most cherished memories, the SPF-85V does a good job as a digital picture frame. The colors are vibrant and the contrast is within the realm of reason. It won’t compete against more expensive LCD monitors, but it’s perfectly adequate as a digital picture frame. The automatic slideshow feature, complete with transitions, is a nice touch as well.

You may also notice the Starlight Touch Controls in the picture above. These illuminated touch-sensitive controls light up when you need them, but they disappear into the black bezel when not in use. This is similar to what we saw on the SyncMaster P2370, among other items in the Samsung family.

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