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Best solution for simple photo display?

post #1 of 17
Thread Starter 
I am new here, so I apologize if this has been discussed already.

I am looking to aquire a simple digital photo frame, but the available options seem to be either way too small or way too expensive. For example, the commonly available frames are significantly under my desired minimum and the only sizable displays (the 19' frames from PhotoVu) are too expensive for what you get.

There are any number of articles about converting old laptops into frames, but this is not a path I wish to pursue. I lack a spare laptop and the desire to rip one apart, plus the screens are still too small for my taste.

So...My plan is to frame (in a shadow box of coarse) an LCD monitor. I want the unit to be self contained, so it cannot be driven from my media center PC. What a need is an inexpensive media streamer (the cheaper the better as it will only be used for photo display). What is the best option from your experiences?

It needs to have some sort of high res output (DVI would be preferable) so that eliminates many of the lower-priced SD-video streamers.

The DVico HD-5000A is out because its form would be impossible to integrate into a photo frame. The unit must be sleek enough to fit in the frame.

The Mvix MX-760 HD seems to do what I need, but it is expensive and overkill for this task. I will use it if nothing cheaper can be found.

The Avix and Modix streamers are cheaper, but they do not have any sort of computer monitor outputs.

The Kingwin KH-300 has VGA output, but I don't know how the picture would be. Does anyone know the quality of the photo output. I am guessing that it would not be high resolution (definition) even over the VGA hookup.

If anyone can think of any other alternative, or if you have experience with these devices and photo display, please let me know. All I really need is a device capable of outputting a picture over a DVI or VGA connection at a reasonable resolution, say 1024x768 or higher.

Thanks for any help!

post #2 of 17
I'm also interested in a viable option to the photovu

post #3 of 17
I was ready to begin my project (I am more willing to tear apart and rebuild) for a digital picture frame, using a laptop, but someone at work tossed it in the trash yesterday after 1 year unused in a cabinet!

I like your idea even better, since I can find a good hi-def 17-19" monitor for under $150. The only drawback is the size, and power supplies needed.

Please post any finds here, and I will look as well. I also like the MVIX, but agree that it is overkill for just digital pixs.

Thanks for the info.
post #4 of 17
What about any of the streamers from MediaGate?
They dont have DVI, but maybe some of the newer monitors have Component input?
post #5 of 17
I was going to use the Tvisto IPTV 3500DMG as the basis of a digital picture frame since it is advertised as having VGA output. It also has wireless and could get the pictures directly off my home PC. Having trouble actually getting the VGA cable though. I'll keep ya posted of my success with this.
post #6 of 17
I had the same goal as Mysterious Loser about 6 months ago. I gave up. Instead I bought a very cheap desktop and hid it under my desk to drive the LCD monitor.

In reality, I think the solution is probably out there. I think there are a few high-end monitors that have built in basic slideshow functions. As I write this, I found this: http://www.pocketpccentral.net/acces...50/display.htm

Anybody thought about or tried a solution based on one of these products?
post #7 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, I have continued to look for a solution, and it is great to see some interest on this topic now. Here are some more bits of information.

* While I am not ruling out component input - since one can always get an LCD TV rather than a monitor, and those would most certainly have component - I would have to know that the output over component would be high-definition. Sure, a lot of these boxes claim to output video in high def over component, but from what I have seen jpeg output is not so good.

* The TVisto still looks promising, but can't find any supplier of the VGA cable either.

* The Dell x50v with output may work for some - but it is costly with the VGA cable, plus the output appears to be 640 X 480. I am still holding out for something that can display at at least 1280 X 1024 (like the photovu frames) or at 1080i. I am more than willing to resize my photos (PS actions make that simple) but I need something that will give high definition fidelity.

* I found a site selling 19" frames for $499 (half what Photovue charges). The specs on the displays do not appear to be quite as good, and the frame is basic, but they may work for some people. I can't yet provide a proper link (anti-spam site policy), but the url is bigeframe(dot)com

Good luck to everyone who is in my situation as well, and thanks for the info!

post #8 of 17
I looked at all the above suggestions, and so far the only one that seems to offer hope, is the Dell Axim, mostly because of its size. I am not sure of the resolution, but another factor is the abundance of power supplies needed for the complete setup.
There has to be a more elegant solution, such as the Mediagate M25, but with VGA output. I wonder how the Digital Picture Frame companies are handling this?
post #9 of 17
I wonder what the quality of one of these DVD players that reads memory cards is on an LCD screen? Maybe into an LCD TV over component video cables it's not that bad. Check out the Samsung DVD-P341 for instance. Anyone have any experiance with one of these? If the player is thin enough, it could probably be packaged into a frame with an LCD fairly easily.
post #10 of 17
Still no new ideas?
I am running out of ideas as well, as most of the ideas incorporate a device too large to fit inside a picture fram.
post #11 of 17
Thread Starter 
Well, from a cost V.S. benefit perspective, the TVISTO seems to be worth a try IF it will output jpegs at 1024 X 768. The problem is...getting that cable seems difficult.

Worldspan appears to have them in stock for $34.95, but I don't know about shipping. The cable is for the MVISTO, but it is supposed to be compatible with the TVISTO (according to owners on Amazon.)

You can check span(dot)com and search for MVISTO VGA if interested.

I don't have the unit yet, as I am still waiting for a bit more positive info one way or another. There was a review in this forum saying that photos are often stretched, but from what I've heard (again from users around the net) it seems like if one resizes the jpegs manually, there is no problem.

At this point, the TVISTO still looks to be the least expensive - if it will do what is claimed. The only prebuilt frames in this price are the bigeframe DPF1119 or 1120 BUT they render at 640 X 480 (even though the screen can display 1024 X 768) so the internal hardware can easily render the image. That is too low for my tastes, and they offer no way to disable that function other than buying the more expensive frames - and by that time you are better off buying from PhotoVu.

Anybody else having any better luck?
post #12 of 17
I came to the same conclusion about the TVisto, and actually bought one after the company assured me the were getting in new VGA cables to ship to their suppliers. That was 6 weeks ago and still no cable after many phone calls and follow up emails. I have to say as a side note I was completely turned off by GalaxyMetalGear. Very poor customer service. I returned my unit to the website I bought it from because I was unable to get the VGA cable for this project. I tried using component on a 15" LCD TV I have and the pictures didn't look like they do on my PC monitor. They were softer and not as crisp (and stretched).

Other than the lack of a VGA cable for my specific application and the practically non-existant tech support, the IPTV3500 is pretty cool. It was small and could easily be put into a frame. If I had wanted something to play the movies and music from my pc on my TV, this would have been a pretty neat device and seems like it would have worked really well for that application.

Anyway, I've pretty much given up on the TVisto. The shipping from span for a VGA cable was like 95 bucks, so I pretty much going on the assumption that GalaxyMetalGear doesn't support that feature (if it ever existed in the first place). I'd love to hear if someone has better luck than me. Maybe I'd reconsider the Tvisto in the future, but for now, I'm going to wait for prices on these frames to come down or shop for cheap laptops on EBAY to drive my frame.

Good luck!!
post #13 of 17
I wonder why any custom cable company could'nt make a RCA-VGA cable ?
Since it does not let you access jpg pictures from a USB Memory CArd, then it looks like you would need a 3.5" HD as well, is this correct?
Also at 2" thick, this isn't the smallest piece of hardware to fit into a frame, unless dissassembling it yields a smaller package.
I'm still looking as well.
post #14 of 17
The cables for the Tvisto have a standard VGA connector and RCA audio jacks at one end, and a proprietary USB-type plug at the other end that connects to the device. A component video cable is provided with the unit that uses this same proprietary plug. I dont think a custom cable could easily (and cheaply) be made. The beauty of the IPTV 3500 is that it is a network device and uses software installed on your home PC to send media from that PC to the device. Hence it doesn't even need a hard drive. I had mine apart before I returned it to install a mini wireless card and the entire package could easily be slimmed down for a picture frame application. Anyone an electrical engineer that could somehow tap into the electronics of this device and grab a VGA signal to directly hardwire it to a monitor? Maybe then we could just use the Tvisto as an OEM device and start making some low priced wireless digital photo frames!
post #15 of 17
How about using this monitor with a built-in 8-1 card reader and an iPod dock:


It is sold at Costco. Here is a link:

post #16 of 17
I think this LCD display needs to be connected to a PC via a USB cable for the 8in1 card reader to function. None of the literature says anything about an internal processor to display photo slide shows or scale digital camera images.
post #17 of 17
Thread Starter 
Yes, a review on Macworld confirms that the card reader will not function on its own - it must be plugged into a computer to function.

Back to a previously suggested alternative...

Does anyone have or know someone who has a mediagate m25 device? It only has component outputs, but it claims to output to 1080i, but does that include jpegs. For example, lets say I formatted my jpeg files as 1920X1080 and loaded them on the internal drive. Would the M25 render them as such, or render them lower and then upscale, or (worst of all) render AND output them at a lower resolution. The obvious answer would be why re-render something that is already at native resolution, but if it was that easy, then the jpeg output on these devices wouldn't be so substandard and soft.

If the M25 can display high res jpegs, then one could just buy, and frame this unit along with an LCD HDTV and still save money over the PhotoVu frames.

Then again, most of the less expensive LCD HDTV screens use that 1366 X 768 resolution, so who knows what you would get after that conversion.

I have searched the forum here, but there doesn't seem to be any info on this.

And the search goes on...
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