Kodak EasyShare W1020 Digital Photo Frame

      Photo Review 7

      In summary

       An 800 x 480-pixel, 20.3-centimetre, wi-fi-enabled digital photo frame with a 16:9 widescreen display that is bright with natural-looking colours.In theory it’s a great concept: build a photo frame for displaying digital pictures and equip it with a wireless interface that allows users to connect to the internet and view shots from online galleries. Add in the ability to display shots and video clips and/or play MP3 music files stored on a USB stick or camera memory cards and you’d think you were on a winner. In essence, that’s what Kodak is offering in its new wi-fi-enabled EasyShare W1020 digital photo frame. But the actual product leaves a lot to be desired. The W1020 is something of a Curate’s egg: parts of it are excellent. So let’s deal with those aspects before looking into areas in which the device failed to deliver on its promises.  . . [more]

      Full review



      In theory it’s a great concept: build a photo frame for displaying digital pictures and equip it with a wireless interface that allows users to connect to the internet and view shots from online galleries. Add in the ability to display shots and video clips and/or play MP3 music files stored on a USB stick or camera memory cards and you’d think you were on a winner. In essence, that’s what Kodak is offering in its new wi-fi-enabled EasyShare W1020 digital photo frame. But the actual product leaves a lot to be desired. The W1020 is something of a Curate’s egg: parts of it are excellent. So let’s deal with those aspects before looking into areas in which the device failed to deliver on its promises.
      For starters, although obviously made from plastic it’s a nice-looking product with a narrow black border surrounding a 25mm wide off-white matte, which surrounds the LCD screen. Self-adhesive trims in red and sliver-grey are supplied with the frame to cover the area between the narrow black border and the edge of the matte. However, we thought the frame looked better without them.


      Unpacking the EasyShare W1020 digital photo frame is child’s play. So is connecting it to mains power.
      The LCD screen itself measures 221 x 132 mm and has a 16:9 aspect ratio, which is ideal for displaying widescreen photos and video clips. The device itself runs off mains power but it’s easy enough to move between power points. The on/off switch is located at the upper edge of the rear panel, just nest to the card slot for SD, SDHC, Memory Stick and xD-Picture Cards. The CompactFlash/Microdrive slot is on the side of the rear panel, just above the USB A and Mini-B plugs.
      On the back of the frame is a square panel that sits about 15mm proud of its surround and carries the internal workings, along with a pull-out stand that can be rotated to hold the frame vertically. Audio in and out sockets are located on the opposite side of this panel, just above the mains power input. The lower corners of the rear panel carry speakers for playing music or video soundtracks. Three wall-mounting holes are provided for users who wish to hang the frame on a wall.
      The screen itself is nice and bright and displays colours accurately, handling shots with subtle hues just as well as those with saturated colours. Some intensity is lost when you view the frame from anything more than about 20 degrees off axis but pictures remain viewable right out to about 170 degrees.
      Inside the frame is 512MB of internal memory, which is enough to store approximately 4,000 images once they’ve been resized to the frame’s 800 x 480-pixel resolution. Images are resized automatically when you copy them to the frame if you’ve selected Automatic resizing in the Settings menu. The Settings menu also lets you configure the frame to connect to a computer or a printer when a USB cable is plugged in (the default setting is to a computer). Connecting to a printer enables direct printing from the frame – but you should stick with snapshot sizes if you’ve opted for auto resizing as images are too small to print any larger.  

      Uploading Images
      Uploading images to the W1020 is easy. When you connect the frame to your computer with the supplied USB cable the following message appears on the frame’s screen: Connected to computer. Use computer interface to copy files. The frame also appears as an additional drive in the My Computer interface.


      Copying images from a computer to the frame is easy as the frame appears as an additional drive on the My Computer interface.
      However, you can’t interact with the frame via your PC; the only thing you can do is copy image files to it. Even then, you can only see what files and folders you have uploaded to the frame through the frame’s GUI and we were unable to select a second folder of images we had uploaded to the frame via the frame’s interface.

      Playing slideshows of images from a memory card or the internal memory in the frame is reasonably straightforward because the frame is programmed to automatically display the most recent collection of images, regardless of where they are stored. When power is first switched on, you have to wait for a minute or so while the frame goes through its set-up routine, which includes displaying the Kodak logo and some introductory graphics to demonstrate the touch-sensitive interface. It then shifts to slideshow playback.
      When no other devices are connected, the frame plays the last collection of images stored in its memory. But, despite having 512MB of memory available, there appear to be some issues as to how it is used. When we uploaded a second folder of images to the frame, however, we could neither play it back nor locate it with the frame’s display, which suggests the device can only handle one folder at a time.
      If you insert a memory card into one of the card slots, plug in a USB drive with images on it or connect a digital camera via a USB cable, the images it contains will be displayed. If a slideshow of images already stored in the frame’s memory is already playing, the new pictures will over-ride it. We found some USB thumb drives would not interact with the frame. It seems the simpler the USB interface, the more likely it will make the connection. No problems occurred when memory cards were inserted – or when we connected a digital camera via a USB cable – although the frame only displays JPEG stills.


      Options provided within the Home menu.
      Tapping on the Home button lets you check the frame’s internal memory and any connected picture sources, while the Settings button allows you to set the viewing options for the frame. You can adjust the time each picture is displayed on-screen, screen brightness levels, the transition styles (the default is Random), where playback starts, whether the image will be displayed in full or fitted to the screen and whether to play background music with the pictures. However, such adjustments are best done at the beginning of a slideshow as they automatically re-start playback from the first image.


      Music playback options.
      Other playback facilities include multi-up (thumbnail), up to 8x magnification, manual rotation of shots and viewing images by file name or date. You can play collections or arrange them in order by date, newest to oldest, or alphabetically by filename. The frame can also play MP3 audio files without pictures and a headphone jack is provided for personal listening. PictBridge technology is included for direct printing via a USB cable.
      The frame is supposed to be able to display most video files (according to its specifications, MOV, AVI, MPEG-1, and MPEG-4 are supported). AVCHD video clips cannot be played in their native format and when we plugged in a memory card containing JPEGs and QuickTime movie files from the C anon EOS 5D Mark II, the following message appeared on the screen: MVI-0556.MOV format is not supported.
      Where video playback is supported, you can determine whether the audio portion of video clips will be played or over-ride the video soundtrack with MP3 music files. You can also set the frame to turn on and off at particular times and adjust the clock to the current local time.

      Wireless Networking
      The inclusion of wi-fi pushes the price up into the ‘premium’ level. In an online search, we found several re-sellers offering 12-inch frames without wi-fi for roughly half the price of the W1020 and a couple offering 15-inch frames for a similar price. Wi-fi is supposed to enable the frame to connect with the internet through your home (or office) wireless network. This lets you share pictures via the Kodak Gallery service. You should also be able to access the latest news, weather and sports reports directly on the frame’s screen.
      Unfortunately, setting up a wi-fi connection requires a considerable depth of technical expertise and the W1020’s user interface adds a considerable amount of frustration to the setting-up process. If you can get it to work – and that can be difficult – the wi-fi capabilities of the W1020 would certainly justify its price tag. But, going on our experiences, we doubt that anyone but a high-level geek will have the technical competence or interest in struggling with the unnecessarily complex user interface and the totally frustrating way the frame’s controls have been set up.


      You must check the ‘Enable media sharing’ box before attempting to connect to a wireless network.
      In order to use any of the frame’s wi-fi functions you must first set up a wireless connection. This process could have been much easier if you were able to do this via a touch screen or via your computer, using your normal keyboard and mouse. But, you can’t. So you’re forced to use the interface on the frame. To complicate matters further, the user manual provides only basic instructions – although you can download more detailed instructions from Kodak’s website.
      The first time you switch on the frame, it will scan automatically for available wireless networks. If any are found, a list will appear on the screen with the strongest signal at the top. Tap on the side of the frame to select this network – or slide your fingertip along the side panel to move down the list and select an alternative.


      Wireless networks detected by the initial automatic scan. Note: the strongest signal is listed at the top.(Both WPA and WEP are supported.)
      This may sound simple but it’s easy to run past your preferred selection, which means running your finger up and down the side panel until you get the setting you want. Now tap the OK light to enter the wireless setup. This opens a keyboard display where you must enter the security key for your network.


      The Network access control on the Settings menu.
      The only controls provided for the W1020 are touch-sensitive buttons embedded in the matte area around the screen. When you run a finger across either the bottom or right hand side of the frame a series of tiny orange LEDs lights up. There are three lights on the right side border covering the Home, Slide Show and Close/OK/Done functions. Nine lights are arranged along the lower border. In the Home menu, these controls access four sub-menus: Pictures & Videos, Music, Web Media and Settings. In the Slide Show menu they access Actions, Thumbnails, Select and Slideshow Options and you can change manually from one picture to the next (in either direction) by running your finger across the remaining lights on the panel.


      The interface for entering the network security key. Network passwords are input via a keyboard, which is only accessible via the touch controls on the frame of the screen. (It’s not a touch-screen interface.)
      The screen will identify whether your network is WEP or WPA and react accordingly. For WEP networks, the security key can be between 5 and 13 characters long with alphanumeric characters and some special characters or between 10 and 26 characters long made up of numbers from 0 to 9 and letters from A to F. The first option is case-sensitive; the second isn’t. WPA security keys are between 8 and 63 characters and are case-sensitive.
      The next task is to enter the key – and here’s you are going to wish you had chosen the shortest possible key because entering characters is very frustrating. First you have to select them by running your finger along the lights on the lower panel. Because the sensitivity of the panel varies, you often find yourself going two or three characters past the one you wanted.
      Once you’ve got the character, you must choose whether it should be upper or lower case and touch the second light on the left to effect a change, if required. Then move on to the next character. If you are moving from, say, A to Z and then back to E you have to scroll through 46 letters in the process. By the time you have input four letters the signs of frustration will be clear to all those around you. But persevere!
      Once all the letters in the security key are up in the box, you touch the Done button and you should be connected. That’s the theory, at least. In practice, we found instead a pop-up screen telling us our WPA password had the incorrect number of characters. When we touched OK to continue, we were taken back to the text entry screen.


      The message specifying the required password parameters.
      After several repeats of this exercise, we sought assistance from Kodak’s online service centre. This proved to be an interesting exercise, not least because of the number of screens you have to go through to actually get to some kind of support. Having explored all options we were unable to find any online advice that solved out problem so we opted to “send an e-mail to a Kodak technical specialist”. This promised a response within 24 hours.
      We also agreed to participate in an online survey that claimed to ‘help’ Kodak to “improve customer support on kodak.com”. Surprisingly, when we clicked on the link, the following message appeared: “Thank you for your interest in providing feedback. The survey is currently not active.”
      Kodak’s IT support technician emailed us well within the 24-hour period and sent a link to the detailed manual (which we had already located and downloaded – and used in our attempts to activate the wireless connection). So far, so good. On our notifying the technician of this, his next step was to request details of our computer system and wireless network.
      Once these were provided, the following email contained a list of questions, which we answered in detail. This elicited a suggestion that we “make sure that you have enabled the media sharing on the Kodak Easyshare Digital Display Software”. (We already had.) In all, four emails were exchanged – but our connection problem remained unsolved.
      To complicate matters, the Kodak Easyshare Digital Display Software crashed repeatedly and, despite re-installing the disk and clicking on the ‘repair’ tab, we were unable to make it operate with any degree of stability. At this point, we gave up on wireless networking.
      The EasyShare W1020 Digital Photo Frame provides an attractive platform for viewing a slideshow of digital photos. It’s easy to upload a collection of images to the frame from your computer and slideshows of the last batch of images uploaded are displayed automatically. In this respect, the frame is relatively trouble-free.
      While the device’s screen is large and bright, the display isn’t razor-sharp but colours look natural and tonal subtleties are displayed with the detail a typical user would expect. Unfortunately, we were unable to change transitions from the default random mode despite selecting fade, and then wipe diagonal. The frame ignored both commands and continued with random transitions.
      In addition, the 16:9 aspect ratio of the frame creates a few problems with the actual display of images. Unless you’ve cropped shots before uploading them, the frame will stretch the image to fill the screen. If the shots were taken with a 4:3 aspect ratio, this stretching is quite obvious (and not particularly flattering to human subjects). It’s less so with 3:2 aspect ratio shots but still noticeable. The audio quality from the built-in speakers is pretty tinny and the built-in background music is bland. MP3 files uploaded via a USB thumb drive fared little better in sound quality – but at least they allowed us to choose the music tracks.
      Given our experiences with attempting to set up and use the wireless facilities in this product, we feel most buyers would be better off in investing their $399 in a larger frame or saving money by purchasing the M1020 Multimedia Digital Frame, which is otherwise identical to the W1020 but lacks wi-fi capabilities and sells for $50 less.





      Image file formats: JPEG, EXIF

      Video formats: MPEG 1 and 4, AVI, MOV

      Audio formats: MP3

      Display size: 259 mm diagonal (area: 221 x 132 mm)

      Display resolution: 800 ø— 480 pixels

      Aspect ratio: 16:9

      Display type: aSi TFT active matrix with LED backlight

      Display brightness: 350 NITs

      Contrast ratio: 300:1

      Memory: 512 MB internal memory, 2 memory card expansion slots

      Memory cards supported: Secure Digital (SD), Secure Digital High Capacity (SDHC), Multimedia Card (MMC), Memory Stick (MS), XD-Picture Card (xD), CompactFlash (CF), USB flash drives

      Power consumption: 6.80 W (power on), 0.47 W (standby power), 0.47 W (power off)

      Power supply: 100″“240V AC, 50″“60 Hz, 12 V DC
      Dimensions: 298 x 208 x 34 mm
      Weight: 893 grams






      Digital cameras, lenses and accessories with 100% genuine Australian manufacturer’s warranties.
      Ph: (02) 9029 2219

      Camera House



      Ph: 133 686
      The largest speciality photographic retail chain in Australia.

      Camera Pro


      CameraPro Pty Ltd
      Suite 607, 180 Queen St, Brisbane 4000
      Tel: 07 3333 2900
      Australian owned and run company based in Brisbane.




      Retailer of digital camera equipment and more.
      Secure online shopping and delivery across Australia.
      Ph: 1300 727 056


      Ph: 1800 155 067




      Comprehensive range of digital cameras and accessories online (www.camera-warehouse.com.au) and an online print service (www.royalexpress.com.au).

      Digital Camera Warehouse


      174 Canterbury Road 367 High Street
      Canterbury Northcote
      NSW 2193 VIC 3070
      Ph: 1300 365 220

      Electronics Warehouse


      1300 801 885
      Australian retailer of Vapex rechargeable batteries offering factory direct prices and fast, free shipping Australia wide.



      Photographic Equipment & Supplies – Retail & Repairs. Click here for list of stores.

      Ted’s Cameras




      1800 186 895
      Big range of cameras and photographic products with stores in most states and online.



      RRP: $399

      Rating (out of 10):

      • Build quality: 8.5
      • Wireless interface: 4.0
      • Ease of use: 5.0
      • Image quality: 8.5
      • OVERALL: 7.0