Stuff that Works: Momento Digital Picture Frame

Stuff that Works: Momento Digital Picture Frame

  • Comments 8

I recently received a surprise package, something that was sent out by the head of my organization at Microsoft as a "thank you" for our most recent fiscal year. It's turned out to be one of the coolest gadgets I own.

What I received was the Momento Model 70 digital picture frame. And this is not just any picture frame. While most digital picture frames typically either display photos from a USB thumb drive, or allow you to copy photos to its internal memory, the Momento is WiFi enabled, which opens up many cool scenarios for displaying photos, and it runs on Windows CE.

Here's a list of the features supported by the Momento:

  • View photos from a USB thumb drive connected to the frame
  • View photos from any PC on your network running Windows Media Player 11
  • Select favorite photos from your computer as they display and add them to the frame's internal memory for offline display
  • View photos from an online RSS feeds you create on MomentoLive.com.
  • Play MP3 or WMA audio files from USB device
  • Allow friends and family to send photos directly to your frame via email
  • Automatically update the frame's firmware over WiFi
  • Display Windows Vista SideShow gadgets on your frame
  • Supports Portrait or Landscape orientation
  • Includes RF remote for navigation

Here's how it works...you open the box, plug it in, and walk through a simple set up wizard to get the frame on your network, and register it with the MomentoLive service. The Momento frame supports using a USB thumb drive to automatically set up the network connection, so you can avoid having to enter the WEP or WPA key by hand on the device. You then set up media sharing on the PC(s) you want to show pictures from, and select that computer on the frame, and you can display all pictures, pictures by keyword/tag, by folder, by date, by rating, etc.

So the good things about this device:

  • Probably the most functional and feature-packed digital picture frame out there today
  • One of the first devices I've seen on the market that acts as a standalone SideShow display for Windows Vista SideShow gadgets.
  • Bright, clear display
  • Ability to display photos from a wide range of sources

As with just about any device, the Momento is not perfect. Some of the things that could be improved:

  • No support for WPA2 (probably doesn't affect a huge number of people, but at least one of my coworkers ran into this)
  • Occasional freeze requiring a power cycle

For a v1 device, this thing is very impressive. One of my favorite features, being a programming geek, is the SideShow support. By installing the Momento SideShow driver (for most folks, this should happen automatically via Windows Update...if you encounter any difficulties, you may want to have a look at some troubleshooting steps I came up with to solve an issue I ran into with my frame), you can display read-only information from Windows Vista SideShow gadgets on your Momento as an overlay to your photos, as shown below:

DSC_6801

Out of the box, Vista provides gadgets for Windows Media Player and Windows Mail. More are available for download at the Windows Live Gallery.

But the best part is that it's pretty easy to create your own SideShow gadgets. So you can always have your most critical information on display.

A great place to start with creating a SideShow gadget is this MSDN article by Jeffrey Richter.

Once I got the SideShow driver installed, I was able to easily enable multiple SideShow gadgets, both downloaded and one I wrote myself. The Momento frame displays the gadget output in rotation...each time the picture changes, the next gadget's output is displayed.

So despite a couple of hitches, I would definitely recommend this device to anyone who's been considering getting a digital picture frame. The price is competitive with frames that provide far fewer features, and the ability to have friends and family send pictures via email is great for family members who may not be techno-philes, but have a wireless network available. The geek in the family can get them set up, and then everyone else can just send them pictures, which automatically display on the frame (clearly, you want to use judgement in who you give permission to email pictures, lest someone get the idea to prank you).

Definitely Stuff That Works.

  • Hi!

    The momento digital frame are very tempting, but I was wondering how the mp3 player function works? You state in your post that it plays mp3 from USB-devices, but what about over Wi-fi via uPnP devices? Is it only pictures that can be accuired from uPnP servers and not mp3 music? That would really be a downside of the product.

  • @zeus_dk:

    AFAIK, you cannot play music via WiFi. According to the User Guide:

    "Momento will play any un-protected WMA files and MP3 files if they are on a memory card or

    USB flash drive. You can listen to music while viewing pictures from any picture source."

    I've tested with a USB memory stick, and the WMA/MP3 playback is pretty rudimentary. You put some tunes on the stick, plug it in, and whenever you're browsing pictures, the music plays. In fairness, that's pretty much all the user guide claims, so it does what it says it does. I suspect most folks who have the ability to download or rip music to a memory stick probably also have higher fidelity ways to play it, given that you also need to hook up external speakers.

    So yes, it's true that you can play MP3 or WMA music, and no, you can't play music over WiFi, and no, I don't see music playback as being a strong selling point for the Momento. It's an interesting feature to have, but ultimately, displaying pictures from a variety of sources is far more compelling.

  • Thanks for the great article - it seems like this Momento frame makes setup within a WiFi network quite easy.

    Just one question - does the device get assigned its own email address?  I'm thinking of a method of setting up say a hotmail (or gmail) account specifically for receiving photos to update the frame with.

    Thanks,

    Harvey

  • @Harvey:

    Glad you enjoyed the post.

    As for the email address, when you sign up for an account on momentolive.com, they create an address in the form username@momentolive.com. In your account, you set up friends and family who can send mail to that account, and any pictures sent are automatically displayed on your frame (when connected to the network, of course).

  • i have a digital fame myself.

    and i added music to the memory stick

    but its not working.

  • @mike:

    I'm assuming you mean you have a Momento frame?

    For me, the frame just starts playing the music as soon as I plug in the USB memory stick.

    One thing you might want to check is whether the sound is turned on...I don't know what the default is. Just go to Momento Settings (bottom of the main menu screen) > Frame > Sound, and make sure that the Sound setting is On, and the volume is above 0 - Mute.

    Hope that helps.

  • I was dissapointed with the SideShow support.  It seems limited to just showing the glance information and does not provide the full SideShow experience...is this what others have found or I am missing something?

  • @dkrinker:

    As I mention in the original post: "you can display read-only information from Windows Vista SideShow gadgets on your Momento as an overlay to your photos."

    While I can sympathize with the desire for it to do more, let's keep in mind that this is the first device on the market to provide SideShow support in a stand-alone device. And given everything else this thing does, it's pretty amazing, I think.

    I agree though, that it would be great to see a version that supports full SideShow functionality. Perhaps if you contact the folks at Momento and share your feedback, they'll know its something customers want.

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