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Digital-picture frames aren't picture perfect

More digital-picture frames are on store shelves, enticing holiday shoppers. But Consumer Reports found that many of their features keep them from delivering picture-perfect quality.

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More digital-picture frames are hitting store shelves, but Consumer Reports found that some of their features keep them from delivering picture-perfect quality.

Digital frames entice buyers because they can display more than one picture. Some show short video clips.

Consumer Reports tested nearly two dozen digital frames in both 7- and 8-inch sizes, priced from $120 to $250.

"A couple of the frames have some new features. The GE specifically doubles as a cordless phone," Consumer Reports staffer Rich Fisco said.

That digital-picture frame can even display who is calling on its screen.

But, "for the money, you could probably buy yourself a good quality cordless phone and a good quality digital frame," Fisco said.

A couple of the frames tested, including a Samsung model, offer wireless connectivity – a plus for uploading pictures.

However, testers said the wireless option on an e-Starling frame is too limited. It can get pictures e-mailed from a computer or cell phone, but can't directly access photos on a computer.

A new Smartpants frame lets you print out photos. Testers, though, found that the prints are expensive and don't have the best quality.

"The most important feature in digital frames is, of course, the picture," Fisco said.

Many manufacturers, though, haven't fixed the sideways problem, in which a picture fades when viewed from an angle.

Consumer Reports recommended avoiding digital frames less than $100. They usually aren't large enough or don't have high enough resolution to adequately display photos from new digital cameras.

When all tests were done, staffers recommended a $120, 8-inch Westinghouse digital frame.