Digital photo frames have been on the market for a good few years now, but they've yet to become a hit with consumers. More novelty than necessity, these displays are still comparatively expensive but offer little in the way of added functionality.
Although Genius's PF-A01 sports a price tag that's similar to those of its rivals, it boasts a massive 10.4in of high-density screen space, MP3 music and .avi video playback and some interesting photo slideshow options. Neither do you need a PC to make use of the PF-A01, which supports a variety of media cards and USB memory, and has 128MB of built-in flash memory. This will store up to 700 photos, aided by Genius's built-in image-resizing software.
The Genius PF-A01 doesn't stretch images disproportionately to fit the screen, nor does it have a tendency to play executioner and cut off various body parts. However, stretching images proportionally can leave behind a letterbox-effect display and means that smaller pictures can appear pixellated. Images with a resolution exceeding 20Mp are ignored altogether.
A large part of our criticism for the mighty Genius PF-A01 is related to its teeny weeny remote control. With several poorly labelled buttons operating the same functions and others still gone AWOL - the Genius makes a big fuss with a capital 'B' to signify brightness, but is unconcerned about other display settings - the PF-A01's should-have-been-simple interface can prove difficult to get your head around.
With no hardware buttons other than a power switch on the Genius PF-A01 itself, you can forget about listening to music, watching videos or altering settings should you misplace this remote. The Genius will, however, start up a slideshow if left to its own devices.
We enjoyed the Genius's slideshow capabilities, which alternate images at intervals from five seconds up to four hours. There's a choice of a standard slideshow and MultiShow, which displays various arrangements of up to four images at a time. It's possible to play music during these slideshows, but with no button to even stop the music you can forget about playlists or such luxuries as skipping to the next track. (To stop a track playing you'll need to enter the MP3 menu, be careful not to touch anything, then sneak out before the Genius PF-A01 notices.) Amusingly, the motionless opening frames of our videos also appeared in the slideshow. Handy, because they weren't listed in a separate video menu.
The Genius PF-A01's removable stand allows it to be displayed in a portrait or landscape fashion. Use the Rotate buttons to flip an image and, while the Genius will remember this during the normal slideshow, it develops amnesia during MultiShow - and that's despite the unwelcome 'Rotate' folder it leaves behind on your memory stick.
But what really grates is that Genius has taken an option better left hidden in a sub-menu and made it rather too easy to access. The Genius PF-A01's remote control might not have separate buttons for selecting menu options, choosing from a video menu or exiting setup, but visitors can take advantage of its Delete button whenever one of our 'memories' doesn't meet their approval.
Some of the Genius PF-A01's other setup options include Sleep interval, Music repeat, Volume, plus settings for the time and date. With no battery-powered option available, the Genius' Sleep mode is claimed to prolong the backlight's life.