One of the coolest gifts I’ve ever given

OK…so I’ve been thinking about how I can get photos to people. Most of the time I send them via email as we don’t print too many anymore. The problem with that is that I either clog up people’s email with a bunch of new pictures or for those who don’t have email, They rarely get new pictures.

So the other day while my Dad was here I was remembering a gadget I saw on the net a while back that sounded pretty cool. We talked about how interesting it sounded and I checked it out. Man is it ever cool. My Dad talked me into calling my brother and telling him about it. We just had to get one for my Grandma.

What is it? Its basically an modem enabled digital picture frame from Ceiva.

OK…so maybe it doesn’t sound that cool…but it really is.  

I ordered one online and had it shipped to my house so I could check it out. While I waited I signed up for an online account on their site, gave them my grandma’s local phone number to get a dial in number for the device, got an email address from them and emailed some picts of the kids right from iPhoto via the Mail option (they have PC software if you are not on a Mac). I was ready for delivery. The only thing I had to do when the device arrived was link it to my online account. To do that I had to type in the serial number from the bottom of the unit so they know where to send the photos. It was a bit interesting as I was giving this as a gift and so, if I had just sent it directly to my grandma, she would have either been internet savvy or I would have had to have here give me the serial number off the bottom. I was glad I had it shipped to me first.

I logged onto the Ceiva site before it came and investigated the features there. I could set a ton of information about the device like what was playing on my device, how long each photo would show and when the device would turn on and off during the day. I was even able to sigh up for what Ceiva calls channels, slides that you can subscribe to like sports, news and even history. I signed her up for the weather channel slide so one of the 30 slides the device holds. It asked me for her zip code so the forecast would be her local 3-day outlook. Very nice addition.

I couldn’t wait to see how cool it would be. The site said only 3 simple steps once unboxed the device. 1. plug in the power cord. 2. plug it into a phone line. 3. Press the big white button on the back.

When it arrived I tore it open and set it up.  The 3 simple steps were a just as described. I pushed the big white button (step three) and the device came to life and called home. It took about 5-10 minutes the first time it called home and downloaded the pictures I had sent. After it was done the screen scrambled for a few seconds (a bit unnerving) and then it went black. A second later it came to life and started cycling through my photos. I couldn’t wait to send it to my Grandma. I watched and watched. The kids came and thought it was exciting to see the photos (a couple of which we had just taken) on the screen.

Speaking of the screen its a 640 x 480 and the quality is decent but not perfect. The screen is bright but the viewing angle is a bit limited. The frame around the screen has a nice black matte and comes with both a stylish black frame and a hightech silver. We bought my Grandma an additional oak frame and it looked very nice. You can also buy different mattes but we though the black was perfect.

After playing with emailing photos to the device for a few days to ensure that when it was set to call home every night, it did and downloaded pictures from my brother and me. I also showed it to some friends to get their opinions and they all thought it was cool too.

I packed it up and shipped it to my Grandma last week. She got it yesterday and set it up. She understood what to do and thought it would be very easy. One problem is that the placement of the power and phone cords made it difficult for her to get them plugged in so she had her neighbor help her. She loved looking at the pictures of the kids and the fact that more will be coming in tomorrow.

If you want to know more or think about getting one of these let me know. I can refer you and get you $50 off the receiver.

-Brian

Pros: innovative and easy technology

Cons: ongoing monthly cost to send picts, location of buttons, display quality, ease of giving as a gift

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