With its photoframe line-up, Philips gingerly walks the tightrope between dodgy budget models with their shocking viewing angles and washed out colours, and digital masterpieces that could double as your telly but have price tags to match.
Its latest 9FF2M4 boosts the screen size from 7in to a more respectable 9in. Not all of it's used for displaying your snaps but the overall effect is of a photo size roughly midway between a 'small' 6x4in print and a 'medium' 7x5in one from down the local processing shop.
Size versus resolution
Despite the bigger screen it's still the same 800x480 pixel resolution as the old version, which means a slight trade-off in sharpness. The viewing angle's also suffered slightly from the excellent 7FF but not enough to see it placed anywhere near the same category as some of the appalling budget frames we've seen.
We wouldn't mind Philips giving the backlight just a teensy bit more power in the next update but overall the picture is very good and colour remains spot on.
Like its predecessor, it comes in two flavours, either the wood surround 9FF2CWO, or the 'Modern Line' 9FF2M4 with interchangeable bezel that we got our hands on.
The 7in model had a complex layout of half a dozen buttons round the back. Now Philips has had a rethink and opted for just two buttons with a neat four-way rocker, making the menus a hell of a lot easier to wade through – though still not perfect.
Software does the hard work
Getting snaps on is as easy as slotting in a memory card or hooking up to a PC via the USB cable and letting the bundled software do the rest. Unlike some of its competitors there’s no full-size USB port for slotting in a flash drive.
There’s also none of the Wi-Fi we’ve seen creeping in elsewhere for lifting snaps of the Internet or beaming them from beach to mantelpiece via email.
Digital frames tend to be one trick ponies, with features, such as audio and video playback, tabbed on to beef up the spec list. Philips has eschewed the multimedia diva model and instead added some genuinely useful new capabilities such as simple editing and cropping and 'Smart Albums' for arranging snaps into groups for custom slideshows.
We're also loving the improved timer which can be adjusted like a thermostat to turn the screen off and on at various times on different days depending on when there'll be people in to view its digital bounty.
At this price we could do with Wi-Fi for beaming pictures from a PC or over the web, or at least Bluetooth. All the same we're happy to have a straight forward frame that does the job well, rather than anything with multiple bells and whistles that fails at the basic task.