After a few days of playing around with the Vizit digital picture frame from Isabella Products, I'm admittedly impressed. I remember hearing about the idea back at CTIA in Las Vegas in April but haven't seen it in market-ready action until now.
Vizit's "wow" factor doesn't lie so much in its novelty as it does in the fact that this kind of photo sharing is only now becoming a reality. Sure, wireless SD cards have been around for some time, but the Vizit represents something different altogether.
The unit itself resembles a number of other digital photo frames out there. It has a beveled stand – the one I received had a kind of tacky faux wood finish on the back – and comes in either silver or charcoal finishes.
Vizit gets its magic via a 2.5G connection from AT&T paired with a GSM/GPRS M2M module from Telit. The frame features a 10.4-inch high resolution (800x600/SVGA), full-touch LCD screen with a carousel menu. The menu allows users to send photos to other Vizits, delete photos from the frame, tag favorite photos or order prints, albums and other photo products.
Users also can manage, upload and delete photos by logging into their account at Vizitme.com. Additionally, the frame includes a USB 2.0 & SD Card slot for manually uploading photos to the frame.
The idea is simple: Upload your photos directly to a digital picture frame from anywhere, using virtually any device. I snapped a few photos using my iPhone and sent them without trouble back to the frame at the house. While my wife said $279 for the unit was a little high, she agreed with me that it might be a great idea for her parents who live 2,300 miles away and don't get to see the grandkids every day.
Given that other non-wireless 10-inch digital picture frames out there go for around $150-$200, I guess it depends on what that wireless connectivity is worth to you. For many, closing the geographical gap between loved ones is worth a lot. Imagine sending your kid off to college with a Vizit and then uploading daily pictures of yourself posed with disapproving expressions on your face. (My apologies to any undergrad who receives a Vizit for Christmas from a parent with just that thought in mind.)
There are a lot of parallel technologies out there. Facebook, MySpace and various Web-based photo sharing services pretty much do the same thing as the Vizit. However, they're much more complex and the outlet for that shared content is either a desktop monitor or a handheld device. The Vizit strips away a lot of unnecessaries, allowing users to share and display photos in a very pure and elegant manner. If the new benchmark for technology is to reduce clicks, then the Vizit takes the cake. There are no clicks.
The ability to invite multiple friends is perhaps the most intriguing aspect for the everyday user who wants to use the Vizit as their main digital photo hub. By its very nature, Vizit will create virtual communities that focus on one thing and one thing only: digital photos. If you have friends and family scattered from New York to San Diego, the Vizit may be the device for you this holiday season.
The Vizit is will be available on Vizitme.com, Amazon and possibly at AT&T stores in the first quarter of 2010.