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Cheap Digital Photo Frames Buying Guide

The array of choices on cheap digital photo frames can seem daunting, with sizes ranging from 1.5 inches (for keychain models) to TV-size frames measuring 25 inches or more. Some frames come with clock and calendar functions, remote controls, and built-in speakers.

But take note: These special features can bump up the price. Once you start shopping, don't be shocked to see digital photo frames going for $200 or more.

But if you've set your sights on a cheap digital photo frame, there's reason to smile: You can find digital frames for prices as low as $30 to $80 that offer some of the same sought-after features and high-quality performance as pricier models. Plus, you'll also find digital photo keychains -- a popular novelty gift for those hard-to-buy-for people on your list -- going for $20 or less.

The most important features to look for in cheap digital photo frames are the resolution (anything above 640x480 is best for a 7-inch frame), a 4:3 aspect ratio to avoid picture distortion, compatibility with numerous file formats, internal memory of 128MB or higher, the option to add external memory, and a lengthy warranty. Of course, extras like remote control, slide show capability, and clock/alarm or clock/calendar functions are also impressive, but they aren't necessary and may boost the price tag.

Our top choices for cheap digital photo frames include three models: the Pandigital PAN7000DW 7-Inch Digital Photo Frame (starting at $60), which supports image, video, and music formats; the highly rated and easy-to-use Sony 7" Digital Photo Frame DPF-D710 (starting at $67); and the Kodak EasyShare P750 7-inch Digital Picture Frame (starting at $77), a simple frame with loads of memory. One model that doesn't meet users' expectations is the Aluratek ADMPF108F 8-Inch Hi-Res Digital Photo Frame (starting at $49), which has generated numerous complaints about its difficult software, impossible-to-follow instructions, and, in some cases, a lifespan of just a few months.

We also researched cheap digital keychain photo frames whose prices are far lower than full-size digital photo frames -- think $10 to $20 at the cheap end and $50 at the high end. The only real difference we found between the cheap digital keychain photo frames and the more expensive ones is the memory capacity. These are novelty items and aren't known for their superior technical specs or picture quality. In fact, after scouring numerous user reviews, we determined that there are only two important features: the internal memory and the battery run time.

We also found that manufacturers of digital keychain photo frames refer to resolution as "high" or "low" instead of assigning numbers, that aspect ratio isn't discussed at all, and that there's no option for external memory. Of the cheap models we looked at, we found the Tao Digital Keychain, model numbers 80009 to 80016, (starting at $10) to be the most appealing choice, largely due to its 16MB memory and three to four hours of continuous run time. On the other hand, the Shift3 Digital Photo Keychain (starting at $15) has an onboard memory of just 8MB and garners numerous complaints from users about a battery that doesn't hold a charge and other operating issues.

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If a cheap digital photo frame fits your budget, keep in mind that you may not be able to score a well-known brand name or a model with all the high-tech options. Never mind. A cheap digital photo frame will showcase good-looking photos over a long period of time.

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