Parks Associates Blog

Monday, March 31, 2008

i-Mate and its Momento Wireless Picture Frame-Review

The digital picture frame market has seen explosive growth in recent years. While many frames on the market only display photos from the plugged-in memory card or internal memory, a few manufacturers have begun to add connectivity to this device. People from i-Mate, a brand best known for its mobile phone accessory products, were kind enough to send me a 10.2-inch Memento 100 for review. The following is the summary of my test.

Overall, the model exceeds my expectation for a product concept that is still evolving. From a hardware perspective, its contemporary-looking, white and acrylic frame shell meshes well with my living room furniture, and a decent LCD resolution (800x480) is adequate for most of my photos. But for a number of high-resolution photos I received from my friends (God knows what cameras they use…), the visual effect was less stunning than on my Sony VIAO laptop. The only shortfall on the hardware side, in my opinion, is the model’s lack of internal memory. I have to plug in my camera’s memory card or a flash drive, which is more a hassle of inconvenience than cost. Even a mere 128MB internal memory will help.

The user interface is a bit confusing at the start. I have to refer back and forth from user manual to remote control to screen menu to understand each RC button’s function and how the UI is organized. Each photo source is highlighted as an icon at the top of the UI menu, but navigation to these different photo sources wass not as straightforward as I thought. I figured it out after several attempts. I like the feature that allows a user to select photos to display based on tags, folder names, star ratings, etc. They will come pretty handy for those who are into meta-labeling photos, like my wife. Overall, UI still needs a bit tweak to make it more intuitive, especially for people whose only RC experience is with a TV remote control.

Photo display software has my biggest complaint. My family and I are part of the blame too. Since my wife and I are not good shutterbugs, we do not always end up with photos that have people’s faces/figures in the middle of the shot. What makes me edgy is that the frame honestly tells the viewers how incapable we are. It becomes worse when the frame’s software auto-crops the not-well-shot pictures to fit the screen. As a result, my daughter was without her favorite hat in one shot and half my father’s right leg is gone in another family portrait. In fact, such problems occur to many other frame models I have seen or tested. “Intelligent cropping” should be an area for all frame vendors to make improvement.

What I had the most concerns with prior to the review turned out not a hassle at all. Maybe I am an avid network user, or thanks to my digital media adapter experience, configuring wireless network and connecting the Momento 100 to my home network is a no-sweat job. Although I struggled a bit through the keying-in-the-network-key session with the remote control and on-screen keyboard display, wireless connectivity was quickly established. I certainly appreciated the reminder message telling me that I need to turn on my PC and enable the Windows Media Player’s media sharing function, even it cost me several trips back and forth between my study and living room. My wife was very delighted when she saw all her pictures on PC can now be displayed on the frame.

Next I tested the Momento Live service. The user manual provides detailed account set-up process and I followed it religiously—it didn’t give me headache at all. But I began to realize that the user interface on the live account might be a bit foreign to new users. It has all the tabs, like Account Management, My Pictures, and Search. But some of the sub-menus of these tabs did not give a concise explanation of what these functions can do. I intentionally asked my wife to navigate through the account website. She paused, tried several tabs, tested a few functions, and apparently became confused and cautious about what these features can give her what kind of experience. Under the “Search” tab, she turned back and asked me what a RSS feed is and what the drop-down menu is for. After I showed her how to get pictures from Flickr, she became much relieved and excited about these features. Maybe describing the features in plain language with clickable links to these partner websites will help consumers out of the guessing game.

But many features enabled by this network connectivity did amaze me and my wife. I was able to set up Flickr photo streaming, tested linking my Frame Channel account to the frame, and displayed photos sent to my Momento Live account through email. Each time, the service was fairly easy to use and set up. Best of all, all these services are free to users.

So the bottom line is: the Momento 100 is a well-functioning digital photo frame ideal for technology-savvy consumers. At $299.99, it is not positioned as an entry-level product but even tech guys might hesitate to put down their money immediately. The frame’s software still has room for improvement, and I would love see its LCD resolution improve to at least 800x600. I gave its connectivity and network features an “excellent” rating, but if i-Mate hopes to extend the frame’s target market to mainstream consumers, user interface and account navigation on Momento Live have to be more convenient to use, and a bit more explanation about these service features will be helpful too.

The photo frame market is currently dominated by simple, unconnected frames. Network connectivity definitely opens the door for many innovative Internet features and services. But such knowledge is still largely limited to a small group of technology-oriented users. From my wife’s experience and reaction, I can tell that the wireless photo frames can have a much bigger market share in the future, IF consumers are made aware of the benefits of these value-added content features and services enabled by network connectivity. Parks Associates envisions that by 2012, 73% of all frames sold will have embedded networking functions. To make this happen, the price point must be right, so are the user interface and services. For years, we talk about digital home lifestyle through connectivity but applications like digital media adapters and Apple TVs have failed so far. The digital photo frame might give consumers a good reason to embrace such a lifestyle in earnest.

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15 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I purchase the i mate 10" wireless frame for my brother two months ago.
I too thought this product was revolutionary and unique.
The frame worked well as a stand alone product and connecting to his home PC, via the wireless connection.

However, I have been having several problems sending pictures via email and using the momentolive.com website. I am just wondering if any one else has experienced the same problem?
I have contacted momentolive support several times but there has been no response.

6:40 AM  
Blogger Billy said...

Sent pictures to momentolive via scan and email from a friend.
Sent pictures to frame and received a sent message, but pictures never show up on the frame.
Able to access pictures from computer through wireless but not momentolive!

Help?

11:29 PM  
Anonymous Allsn said...

Like wise, I have never had success with momentos own site.

3:23 AM  
Anonymous MikeL28 said...

7 Dec 2008; Have been using Momento wifi Frame since kids gave it to us last Xmas. Worked fine for 6 months. Now, altho' have uploaded & emailed Pics to Momento site and they appear onsite, they do not appear on our Frame, which still continues to receive older pics. No answer from Imate support. Question is: are they (Imate) still functioning as advertised? Do they require paid subscription? I've never been asked for money... Help!!

5:26 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I'm the same. I think this was is (was?) the best frame on the market. My parents have used it since Xmas 2007 when I gave it as a present. I've been sending photos to it all year via the momentolive internet site.
Now, Dec 2008, the service doesn't seem to wokr. No uploaded photos are being sent. This is the main reason I bought this frame. Is Momento Live dead?

4:25 PM  
Blogger Patrick said...

Surprisingly I got a very quick answer from support having the same problem.
I asked if they discontinued the service.
They said, they are working on it.

Hoping for the best...

6:19 PM  
Blogger I'm Pitak Watanapanich said...

Now Digital Picture Frame is a gadget most teen wanted.

It's more feature than past, you can listening music, watching movie, see slideshow from your favorite photography.

. . . Read how to choose digital picture frame at DREAM LIGHT SHOP

. . . >> See New release at SWEET MEMORIES aStore

12:10 AM  
Blogger James said...

I just received my frame today. I bought it for my Dad this Christmas. One of the main reasons I got it was for the live photo feed. Any get any new details on what's happening with the site? I've emailed them today and will post any info I get.

I hope they resolve this soon!

9:52 AM  
Blogger James said...

Very quick reply! I've been told the server is down for maintenance:

"Dear James,



Thanks for the E-mail,



We regret for the inconvenience caused to you. We would like to intimate you that Momentolive server is undergoing maintenance.

However, we request you to please be patient & wait until you will get a reply from our side, as soon as the service will get properly activated.

We have always respected our esteemed customers, so please kindly accept our sincere apologies and we would ensure that we will carry forward a good customer relationship.

Your patience is highly appreciated and inconvenience is regretted.

For any further clarifications feel free to ask.

Thanks and Regards,

Dave

Technical Support Executive

i-mate™"

I'm hoping it will be up in time for Christmas!

10:09 AM  
Anonymous hatch said...

I too am unable to get any photos onto the frame from MMS , EMAIl or internet . Momento appear to now have an auto reply saying the server is down .. no mention of a date for return.... look like its been a while from posts here.

5:25 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

FYI, i-mate sent out emails today (1/20/2009) to announce the Momento Live service is being shut down as of 2/25/2009. Here's a copy of the email:

-------------------------------
The Momento Live service will be terminated on February 25, 2009. After that date you will not have access to the Momento Live website or services. However, your Momento frame will be unaffected so you can continue to enjoy viewing your photos on your frame.

The closure of Momento Live web site means you can no longer store your photos on the Momento Live server and/or and share your photos with other Momento Live members.

Important note! Any pictures that you have stored on Momento Live server will be permanently lost after February 25, 2009. If you have any images stored on the Momento Live server, please ensure you have a copy of them stored on your PC. Any images that are hosted on Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, or similar services will not be affected.

When currently visiting the Momento Live web site you may receive a website security warning as the SSL certificate has expired and will not be renewed. Please ignore this message. You are welcome to continue onto the website to retrieve your images.

6:43 PM  
Blogger dobm said...

Oh dear, the service is indeed closing :-(


Dear Member,

The Momento Live service will be terminated on February 25, 2009. After that date you will not have access to the Momento Live website or services. However, your Momento frame will be unaffected so you can continue to enjoy viewing your photos on your frame.

The closure of Momento Live web site means you can no longer store your photos on the Momento Live server and/or and share your photos with other Momento Live members.

Important note! Any pictures that you have stored on Momento Live server will be permanently lost after February 25, 2009. If you have any images stored on the Momento Live server, please ensure you have a copy of them stored on your PC. Any images that are hosted on Flickr, Picasa, SmugMug, or similar services will not be affected.

When currently visiting the Momento Live web site you may receive a website security warning as the SSL certificate has expired and will not be renewed. Please ignore this message. You are welcome to continue onto the website to retrieve your images.

To visit Momento Live please click here.

Any questions you have may be directed to momentosupport@imate.com

Thank you,
The Momento Support Team

2:01 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just now found out that Ceiva will give you a special deal if you're a Momento Live customer that got gyped when they stopped their service.

http://www.ceiva.com/home/nf/momentolive.jsp

2:00 PM  
Anonymous Amaris said...

Can anyone tell me about imate jama101.

4:00 AM  
Anonymous Crystal said...

any pictures of the picture frame that this review is on?

4:16 AM  

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