Hands On with the Aluratek 11″ Photo Frame


Photo frames are pretty much commoditized at this point, but the subtle differences among them still make it difficult to choose the right one. I recently tested Aluratek’s 11″ product (MSRP $230), and while it doesn’t offer anything revolutionary (still waiting for a workable frame that receives emailed photos…), it does an elegant job of displaying photos, and it requires virtually zero technical ability. Bottom line: It’s a great photo frame for mom’s living room.

aluratek-frame-accessories.jpgThe Aluratek comes with a power cord, USB cable, remote and 1GB memory card in the box. In my case, I plugged the frame in and then connected a USB flash drive. A library of my photos popped up immediately, and by clicking “enter” on the remote I got the full-screen visual. The remote also has a handy “slideshow” button for one-click slideshow action. No need to drill down into menus. I have to admit I had momentary difficulty getting the remote to work until I realized the need to remove a plastic covering. Chalk that one up to user error.

Manipulating photos on the Aluratek frame is extremely easy. Pressing “enter” a second time zooms in on photos, and pressing “up” or “down” rotates them. For complicated maneuvers you can go into the menu to do things like add photo transitions. You know, if you want to get fancy.

aluratek-frame-image-graininess.jpgMy one beef with the Aluratek is that if you get up close there is some graininess. (Click on the thumbnail right for a close look.) Photos look perfectly fine at a distance of a foot or more away, but if resolution is your thing, the Aluratek is not the best choice. There I’d still go with a Westinghouse. (Similar frame sizes are comparably priced on Amazon under $190)

Other cool features on the Aluratek include video and music modes. I plugged in my Flip video camera and instantly had access to the video stored there. (Some digital photo frames still don’t support video.) Unfortunately I couldn’t hear the sound on the videos, but I’ll give Aluratek the benefit of the doubt on that – perhaps it had something to do with the Flip, rather than the frame. In slideshow mode when the frame was just showing demo images from the Flip the demo music was perfectly audible. Decent quality too.


All in all, I’d recommend the Aluratek frame. It’s stylish (I like the cherry-wood color) and it’s easy, easy, easy to use. Lots more photos after the jump. Full specs available here.

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CradlePoint MBR1000: Best EVDO Router Ever?

I pretty regularly find myself in locations where I just can’t function – there’s no network drop, the connection is poor because it’s being shared with dozens of high bandwidth applications, I’m a guest and the LAN requires a local user account, etc. So, I’ve been keeping my eyes open for the right EVDO router. … Read more

March Will Be Madder than Ever

I love March Madness. But even though I no longer trek to an office, it’s difficult to be near a TV during all of the match-ups I want to see. After all, we are talking middle-of-the-work-day, middle-of-the-work-week broadcasts. Luckily, this year CBSSports.com is expanding their free web streaming service March Madness on Demand (MMOD) to … Read more

Dave Dumps Vonage, Acquires M-Card


I had assumed the lawsuits would ultimately kill Vonage… And while they still might, as part of our moving prep, I made the decision to proactively kill service. My 2.5 years with them has been somewhat rocky, including poor customer service and call quality issues. Complaints from folks on the other end of the line is what finally led me to this decision.

In Vonage’s defense, I’ve really appreciated the voicemail->email feature and their pricing was extremely competitive. However, our multiple cell phones and SkypeOut should be sufficient going forward. If not, for the first time in years, we’ll consider going back to a reliable Verizon landline.

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The Great Port Debate

When Apple announced the MacBook Air I had an immediate reaction to the absence of an Ethernet port. It went something like this, “What, no Ethernet port?” It’s not that I need an Ethernet port often, but when I do, it’s critical. Take CES. I was in the press room with a limited window of … Read more

Green Your Gadgets… Or At Least Recycle Them


The CEA may be claiming a green CES this year, but in reality, there’s very little that’s green about the consumer electronics industry. From manufacturing, to transport, to consumer use, gadgets are less than wonderful for the environment. So what’s a gadget-head to do? Well at the very least we can recycle our old devices. I certainly got my share of electronics for Christmas, and no doubt it will be time to retire some of the other gadgets in my house in the near future. Here are some of the recycling options available.

If you have a gadget that’s still in good shape, consider giving it away to someone who could use the hand-me-down. Freecycle is a Craigslist-type service, except you sign up just for your local region and it’s all free trade. You can list things you want and things you have to give away. Upgrading your laptop? Or your TV? Give away your old one on freecycle.

Corporate Recycling Programs
Several large CE companies have buy-back and recycling programs now, including Apple, Best Buy and Motorola (my employer). The CEA site My Green Electronics lists what different companies collect along with links to more information. (Best Buy collects toner cartridges and rechargeable batteries among other items.)

Recycling Collection Sites
Not recycling a product from a company with a specific recycling program? There are a couple of sites online that let you plug in your zip code to find a recycling collection center. The My Green Electronics site has this feature, as does Earth 911. Unfortunately, you may find that the closest center isn’t that close, or that you have to wait for a recycling event at a particular time of year. If that’s the case, bag your old gadgets up, mark the day on your calendar and plan one trip to drop everything off.

Cell Phone Options

More and more cell phone recycling options are popping up. A recent post on Planet Green lists five novel recycling alternatives including trading cell phones in for carbon offsets and donating cell phones that can be exchanged for prepaid calling cards for soldiers abroad.

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Best Gaming Chair Ever?

I’ve done the bean bag thing. I’ve even done the rocking gaming chair thing. While those were relatively comfortable, I could use something a bit more sophisticated in the living room. Which is why the Jump Seat Ottoman, announced yesterday by Salamander Designs, is quite appealing. When closed, the Jump Seat would allow me to … Read more

The Ghost of Gadgets Past

Now that we’re on to a new year of Christmas gadget giving, I thought it would be a good time to review the gadgets we gave (and received) in 2006. So I went back and looked at last year’s recap. And kinda wish I hadn’t. Of the seven gadget gifts in my household that I … Read more