f GizGadg: eStarling

Thursday, December 21, 2006

eStarling



(For the next few days, this eStarling frame will be showing pics from openestarling@gmail.com - feel free to send me something!)

Well, after much waiting (over a year!) the eStarling frame FINALLY got here! I originally saw it over here on Gizmodo, a year ago. It finally became available on ThinkGeek for pre-order a couple of months ago. I was really doubting it would actually get here by Christmas, but they shipped it overnight DHL last night, and it arrived at 2 PM EST today!

My reaction so far has been very good - it's a solid piece of equipment, the setup was easy, and the photos look great!


It came in decent box - even though the kids on the front look slightly scared to me...



Inside the box I found the frame, a USB wireless dongle (so the wireless is built in - which is interesting, if you can replace the USB dongle with something else..), power supply, USB cable for the computer connection, and a (very small) manual.




The top of the frame is where the USB network interface goes, along with the basic controls for the frame.



The side has the power connector, the USB port to hook the computer in (so you can have wireless and a computer connection at the same time - or JUST wireless), and a card port (I assume to add photos - if it it can also be used to expand the memory, then great - otherwise I'll be sticking with wireless).



The stand snaps into the back (I put it in the wrong way the first time -be careful, it looks like if twist too hard in the wrong direction, the pins that connect it will snap fairly easy).

I (of course!) didn't bother with the instructions, so just plugged the USB network and power in and turned it on (button on the far left on the top).



It booted up, and then told me it couldn't connect... of course, as my network is encrypted - so I hooked the frame up my computer and installed the software (on a included mini CD)





Setup was a snap - it supports WEP64 and WEP128, and on the advanced tab, proxy support and DHCP/static IP configuration.

Once you get it all set up, it tells you to disconnect the frame and power on/off - once I did that, it hooked right up to my network



One thing I didn't expect is that all setup is done through the eStarling.com web site. It gives a code (pictured above), and you log into the web site and set up your frame via that. All photos uploaded (including from your machine) are used that. It can also hook into a rss, flickr, a estartling.com email that you get, and gmail. I did notice the frame was accessible as a drive, when hooked to the computer, so I assume you can copy files to it (have not tried yet).



I uploaded the above from their web site, for my frame. It took a couple of minutes to show up.. I've also set up openestarling@gmail.com, if you'd like to send me a pic.

So, I am over all very happy with the frame. The main reason I bought this one, and didn't even think of getting another, was that I wanted the wireless piece. No cards to stick in, no hooking up to the computer! This is going to be a Christmas gift for my parents - my sister had triplets two years ago, so this will let her take pics and send them to the frame - my parents won't have to do anything, they'll just get fresh pics on a regular basis.

The only think I really don't like is you appear to be restricted to either a estarling.com or gmail e-mail account. I'd like to be able to just use ANY e-mail (maybe in the the next update?). I also rather not have to use their web site for anything - allowing configuration on just the frame, or the frame hooked to the computer, would have been better.

I'll post a update after Christmas, when I'll have a better feel for the eStarling - but so far, I love it!

Product Features

  • Connects to Wireless 802.11 Network
  • Displays Photos E-Mailed to the Picture Frame
  • Displays Photos from Flickr RSS Feeds
  • Displays Photos on a MMC/SD/MS/CF card

Specifications

  • 7" color LCD Display
  • Wi-Fi 802.11b/g with Support for WEP encryption
  • MMC/SD/MS/CF 4in1 card slot
  • On-board Storage for Approximately 200 photos
  • Views JPEG files
  • External 120V/240V AC Adapter


51 Comments:

Blogger Wesley said...

Just sent you a photo...thanks for letting me paly along with the new toy! :) Love to know if you thik it is a good value. THanks for the review!

7:20 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

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7:29 AM  
Blogger rob said...

Cool, this would be perfect for my dad! Questions:

You mentioned a USB wireless dongle, but not much about it. Can you explain it's intended purpose with the frame?

What is the resolution of the display? It would be good to know the optimum photo size to send.

How does it handle vertical (portrait) photos?

Any major problems so far?

7:35 AM  
Anonymous Jered said...

Is there any authentication, or does it just show any picture emailed to the frame's address?

I see a serious problem with image spam, if so!

7:51 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Does the USB dongle always hang out of the top of it? Looks a little odd if so but I guess you could hide it with an extension cable. Mine should be here today.

8:14 AM  
Blogger PC said...

*This* is the one DPF that I am really interested in. Thank you for the post! Also wanted to know how it addresses flickr images. Do you tell the frame your flickr account and tags that it should be reading (kinda like slickr)? Thanks in advance.

8:24 AM  
Anonymous Dave said...

The fact it only supports WEP encryption is a major negative for this product. Why should I have to make my wireless network easily accessible to hackers just so my digital picture frame can download pictures off the Internet.

I would seriously love to buy this frame, but absolutely refuse to until they come out with a WPA model.

8:34 AM  
Anonymous Andrew said...

I just got mine, and I am disappointed. I was hoping to be able to swap out the frame (to get rid of the big, ugly logo on the current frame), but that does not appear to be a trivial thing to do.

More importantly, however, there is a USB WiFi dongle sticking out of the top of this thing. This is not at all what I was expecting. Where aesthetic considerations simply ignored in designing this???

This could have been so much better. It would have taken only a trivial amount of additional thought by the designer to have addressed both of these issues.

I guess that I just wanted too much . . .

2:50 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

The USB wireless dongle needs to be in place to use the wireless function. Don't know why they just didn't build that in...

You can either let anyone's photos on the frame, or you can choose which e-mails are allowed to send to it.

For flickr, you tell it a RSS feed to read off of.

I agree, the WEP-only thing sucks.

And yeah, it could look a bit better :)

3:10 PM  
Anonymous steve said...

I have to question this review, I just got mine and I'm returning it.
The usb dongle sticking straight up in the air is ridiculous! How could the reviewer not mention this, is he paid???????
The frame looks stupid with the usb dongle attached, and removing and adding it every time I want to change pictures defeats the purpose of it being wireless.
SAVE YOUR MONEY FOLKS, until someone really builds a nice wifi digital frame.

3:55 PM  
Anonymous Extremely Unhappy said...

More importantly than the fact that it doesn't look so aesthetically pleasing is the fact that it doesn't have a wireless range farther than about 5 feet from the WAP. Another very disappointing feature is that with out the wireless working you only get a screen that reminds that the wireless is not working.

For the price of this device it ought to be able to work with memory sticks despite the short fall of wireless disconnectity.

BEWARE!

P.S. I have been monitoring the manufacture's website and there have been several complaints about being unable to reach technical support. There was a forum that was up for one day that was allowing buyer to help other buyer with setup issues, but the manufacture closed down the forum for the holidays. Big Mistake, IMHO.

7:54 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I use mac address filtering and for the life of me:
a) could not get this stupid thing online, even when turning off mac address filtering
b) emailed customer support, obviously not expecting an answer based on what I've read thus far.

This is a very poor experience. Sadly my trouble is doubled since I bought a frame for my parents and my inlaws. I'm literally at my wit's end since it is a Christmas present and they decided to release it so close to Christmas with non-existent QA. I cannot believe I bougtht this $250 piece of junk.

I haven't even started on the astethic issue....jeez.

12:39 PM  
Anonymous Toby Benjamin said...

You guys are bitches.
Agreed - it's not GORGEOUS.
The logo is a little tacky and the WiFi fob is kinda awkward,
But overall it's a great product.
It took me 5, FIVE, cinco, cinque, V minutes to set up and connect to the internet, not much effort either.
The eStarling.com uploading takes about 5 minutes to reach the frame and the flickr feed takes about 20 minutes.
Fast as hell? No
Fast enough? Yes
If you need the pix faster, upload to the internal memory via My Computer.
My favorite part, however, is this:
My mom is not a computer programmer or computer tech specialist, she knows the basics, but something like this would be hard for her to configure.
With the eStarling, I can just send her pictures and she sees them.
period.
End of story.
No flash cards, no bluetooth transfer, no confusing software.
I upload to flickr or email pictures - she sees them.
Everybody's happy.

If you don't like it, get a Ceiva, It's only $150 for a frame!!!!
Though the $100/yr activation fee might be a deal breaker.
Who knows?

10:44 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Toby you are a little bitch. Here's what customer service had to say (surprisingly, they responded). I'll let it speak for itself:

"...I don't believe you can get to the MAC address until the frame has been able to connect to the internet atleast once so that it displays to you the 6-digit code and successfully registered it on the website. Once that has been done, if you connect it via the USB cable it will add several Removable Drive and one of them is a "system" folder and in there is a file called " estarling.dat". This will contains the MAC address for the frame."

Comment: That's brilliant. Soooo...you would like me to disable mac address filtering for the purpose of setting up said device?



Also, we are currently investigating a possible issue regarding the power supply that may be causing significantly reduced wi-fi range, locking up of the frame, or the screen going black if it's too far from the wi-fi router. If we do find this to the cause of these problems then we will be shipping you a new power supply free of charge. Please check the eStarling website for an official message about this tomorrow morning.

Comment: jeeeez. What the hell kind of product do you decide to release with that type of QA?


Yeah, I definitely think I expected too much. Then again, they overpromised. Definitely my bad.

11:47 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thanks for the article. I had a couple questions for those of you who have been able to get this frame to work...

1) How far away is the frame from your wireless router? I could not get the frame to work if it was more than four feet from the router.

2) Have you been able to get the frame to work with 802.11g? I was only able to get the frame to work with 802.11b.

3) Have you been able to get the frame to work with a Picasa album RSS feed? I was only able to get the frame to work with Flickr, but not Picasa.

5:20 AM  
Blogger Mike said...

This guy is astroturfing. I have this and like many others got swindled. It doesn't *just work* (and it needs to be 6 feet from your wifi hub)

Gizmodo's review

My Review

7:14 AM  
Blogger Scott said...

I got not one, but TWO, of these things (one for each set of ‘rents) – both were practically unusable. Have to agree w/ all previously posted crits (ugly, picture reso & aspect problems, barley workable Wifi, frequent crashes requiring power cycling).

Have only one thing to add: unlike many posters, I actually got mine on the network.

Tried using the bundled eStarling utility netconfig.exe – no dice. Never found any Wifi network, no mater what I tried (diff nets, Static/Dyn IP, Ad-hoc, etc.). Just before I unplugged and reboxed it, I poked around on the drives that are mounted when you’ve got the thing plugged into your PC (i.e the card reader feature). Found that one of ‘drives’ contained a folder labeled ‘System’. Inside were several network configuration files. I manually entered the net info (SSID, Static IP, Gateway, Subnet, DNS, etc). Lo – it actually found the wireless network & I was able to activate/register the device on the eStarling site.

Mind you, this was just a technical exercise in hard-headedness. All the other problems are still too much, will deny that I ever thought of cursing a parent w/ such a gift & am returning it ASAP…

9:48 AM  
Blogger Greg said...

I've had some more time to play with it, update here

While I agree the dongle isn't the greatest, it seems to fit ok with the frame - I didn't find it a major issue.

I had to turn off my MAC filtering to set up - once it was on my network, I just went in and found it in the wireless MAC listed and re-added.

Have not tried Picasa as of yet. I have it across the room from the router, no connection problems

11:45 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

REMOVING eStarling Logo
I used a MR Clean magic Eraser Extra Power ( http://www.mrclean.com/sites/en_US/mrclean/products/eraser_extra_power.shtml ) to successfully remove the eStarling Logo. When doing it be carful only to remove the logo. After the logo is removed the outer frame area will looked "buffed" so use the eraser on the entire frame. It is not perfect, but it looks a lot better. Use at your own Risk.

9:21 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Absolutely awful product. Do not buy one of these! They look terrible due to the rediculous usb wifi adaptor. They don't work unless your are connected to wifi. Half the people that have them can't seem to connect to wifi and those that can it has a pathetic wifi range. It does state on the estarling site that the power adaptor is faulty and will be replaced. Even if I could get it to work it looks terrible due to the ugly prominent logo and the stupid aspect ratio of the screen. Quite possibly the worst tech product I have ever bought Hopefully thinkgeek will refund given the product was mis-represented on their site in my opinion (note they have changed the product picture to now show the rediculous wifi adaptor).

11:23 AM  
Blogger Scott Clark said...

Fraudulant Marketing - not just defective products. I wrapped this sucker up for Christmas without opening the box. On the box was a photo of how it SHOULD have looked - complete with little wifi-waves. Pure false advertising folks. Lies. Nothing less. Did they really think they could get away with this kind of fraud? Check out the comparisons:

http://www.sitecreations.com/blog/uploaded_images/estarling-wtf.jpg

3:24 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bought two of these, seriously disappointed. Problems connecting to network along with everything else everyone's mentioned. Logo is butt ugly, couldn't they come up with something better if they're going to plaster it all over the top of the frame? The dongle sticking out of the top is totally ridiculous. What about wired support, I'd like to actually reduce the number of wireless devices I'm running. Any hacks posted yet?

8:35 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Has anybody got their new powersupply yet?

1:18 PM  
Blogger Greg said...

Nope :(

Not a big deal for me as it's within range of my wireless router, but it's supposed to be at my parents, where it will be a big issue.

1:44 PM  
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