I've considered getting a digital picture frame for a long time. They are great for people with thousands of digital photos. Get those photos off of your computer and into the living room! The problem? Historically these products were horrible. Some of them plainly just didn't work. Some had screens that were pathetic. The few that actually worked costed more than a computer! For Christmas this year my wife did a ton of research into these and came upon the eStarling 8-Inch Digital Wireless Picture Frame (Black). She ordered one for a Christmas present for me and I opened up with some trepidation due to the history of these products and started to play with it.
Let's first start with the appearance of the eStarling. It is very sleek. There is no logo on the front panel, or any lights. It looks very clean and elegant. I would have no hesitation to place the eStarling in the living room or anywhere else in the house. There are some buttons on the back to control it if you want to but there are discrete and cannot be seen unless you look for them. It comes with a long power cord.
Setup is pretty simple. I liked the approach that eStarling took. In essence, the picture frame looks like a mass storage device to your Mac or PC when you plugin the USB cable. You can then use their software to create a config file on the frame that tells it the configuration information for the WiFi network. You could just create this with a text editor if you wanted to.
I did stumble upon a bug when setting it up. If your WiFi network name has a space in it the eStarling will not connect to it. I had to rename my WiFi network, removing the space, and then it worked fine. Happily, it had no problems connecting to my WPA2 network which was a relief.
After 15 minutes I had the frame on the network and grabbing photos. All configuration for your eStarling is done by going to their website and setting up feeds and adding photos. The picture frame then communicates home to find out what it needs to do. This is great for deploying a frame with a relative that may not be technical and could use help setting it up.
There are a number of ways to get photos onto the eStarling. I really only find two useful. I have tied the eStarling to my Flickr account so whenever I add new photos they go onto the frame. It interacts with Flickr via the RSS feed which I was a bit disappointed about. One shortcoming is that if you add more than 10 photos in a shot, the eStarling often will only catch the last ten that are displayed in the RSS feed. The other way to get photos is to email them right to your frame. You receive an email address for your frame and can then email photos right to it. This is a lot of phone to do when you are using your cell phone camera. You can take pictures when you are out and about and it's in your frame when you get home.
All in I give the eStarling a good recommendation. It's biggest shortcoming is the website and a lack of advanced features there. The physical package of the frame itself is top notch and even after a month looks nice.