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Toshiba Journe Air 801 review

Verdict:

An ambitious product with lots of interesting features, but it’s clumsy to use and image quality is poor

Review Date: 7 Feb 2010

Price when reviewed: £130

Supplier: http://www.askdirect.co.uk

Reviewed By: Ben Pitt

Our Rating 2 stars out of 5

User Rating 3 stars out of 5

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Toshiba’s 8.4in photo frame has plenty of features including wireless networking, a battery and video playback. It’s not so hot on some of the finer details, though. Its paltry 128MB of internal memory will hold just 400 photos at the screen’s native resolution. It can’t read Memory Stick Pro Duo or CompactFlash cards, nor SDHC cards over 4GB.

There’s a light sensor to switch the frame off automatically when it’s dark, but we found it turned off under artificial light, and there's no calibration control. We had to shine a torch at the sensor to resuscitate it long enough to turn this feature off. The battery’s impressive 130-minute life is great for passing around the frame for people to take a closer look, but the inability to pause slideshows makes active browsing extremely clumsy. Another frustrating flaw is that photos taken in portrait orientation aren’t rotated for playback. Manual rotation is possible, but extremely cumbersome.

We had to switch from WPA to the less-secure WEP encryption to establish a WiFi connection, and were disappointed to discover that there’s no way to transfer photos from a PC to the frame over a local network. Instead, WiFi is used to connect to Picasa and Flickr accounts, siphoning photos directly from the web. All that’s needed is an account name, so it’s possible to access friends and relatives’ accounts as well as your own. Entering names was extremely laborious via the unresponsive touch-sensitive buttons, but much easier using the supplied software while connected via USB. It’s a shame WiFi connections can’t be configured in the same way. It successfully downloaded various recent photos from Picasa but didn’t give access to specific albums. Flickr accounts were correctly located but no pictures were downloaded.

The Journe Air 801’s biggest flaw is its substandard image quality. Colours were woefully under-saturated, giving everything a dreary appearance. Heavy banding was visible in smooth gradients such as skies and walls, and poor anti-aliasing during resizing resulted in blocky details. It may be clumsy to use, but the 801's poor image quality is the final nail in the coffin. This is one photo frame to avoid.

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