Kodak Pulse review
The Pulse is the first digital photo frame we've seen to have a touchscreen. Combine this with built-in WiFi, and it goes some way to justifying the fairly high price of £84, which is a lot considering the Pulse's relatively small screen size of just 7in.
Unusually for a screen this small, the touch capabilities are achieved via infrared sensors around the edges of the display, rather than a resistive or capacitive screen. However, we found it was responsive enough and it made the Pulse very easy to use compared to frames with traditional buttons – which are often on the rear to keep the frame attractive.
Setting up the Pulse was incredibly easy. Aside from the frame, there's just a mains adaptor in the box. When you plug it in, onscreen instructions lead you through connecting to your wireless network. Our only gripes are that Kodak has opted for an alphabetic instead of QWERTY keyboard layout, and that it refused to connect to our router if the signal strength was below 30 per cent.
Once this is done, a PIN is shown on screen, and you have to head to Kodak's website to complete the setup process. Here, you sign up for a free account and enter the PIN to pair the frame with the account. The idea is that you can then upload photos to the frame from your computer (using Facebook or Kodak's own Gallery) via the website. You can also choose an email address for the Pulse itself, so you (or friends and family) can email new photos to the frame using any email client. It's a novel approach, and means new photos could arrive on the frame at any time, making for a nice surprise.
What's particularly good about the web interface is that it automatically resizes images to match the frame's resolution (it even supports TIFs). This avoids sending huge amounts of data unnecessarily, and maximises the number of images that can be stored in the Pulse's 512MB of memory. However, we hope that Kodak updates the Java application so that images in sub-folders are automatically selected when you click the Select all button. Currently, sub-folders have to be added manually.
Interestingly, Kodak has decided to put the frame's timer settings exclusively online. You can set when the frame turns on and off, but you can't set different times for different days. It's certainly easy to make changes using your mouse, but we can't fathom why they're not available through the Pulse's on-screen menus. Plus, it can take up to 15 minutes for changes made on the website to be applied to the frame, which can be inconvenient.
There are no image quality settings, but this is in line with the Pulse's general aim: being extremely easy to use. However, this can sometimes prove limiting as you can't rotate the frame into portrait mode - it's fixed in landscape orientation. The stand is fixed, too, so you can't even tilt the frame. Also, if you plug in a USB flash drive or memory card, you can't select which folder to show images from - it's all or nothing.
As with many digital photo frames we see, the Pulse doesn't offer slideshow intervals between photos over 30 seconds. If you want to show a photo for longer than this, you have to pause the slide show.
Fortunately, image quality is one of the Pulse's strengths. The LED backlighting and matte finish mean the frame is bright enough to view in sunlit rooms and isn't reflective. Colours are well saturated and accurate. If you can stomach the price, and can live with its limitations, the Kodak Pulse is a great-quality and easy-to-use photo frame.