Knowing Glances: Souped-Up Digital Frames Include Chumby, Sony Dash, Insignia InfoCast

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And the Dash can even put on its own show of sorts. Re-orienting the wedge-shaped device horizontally so that its back is flat on a surface flips the screen so that it is at about a 30-degree viewing angle, which is useful for looking at it while standing.

Sony envisioned the Dash being used in a kitchen, perhaps by someone glancing at a recipe while working on it across the room. Because of the flexible orientation and flexibility, the Dash gets the nod despite its smaller screen and less accessible USB port.

Sony Dash, InfoCast More Useful Than Basic Digital Picture Frames

While the ability to access network content is great in theory, the InfoCast doesn't have the muscle to access big remote libraries.

Both products provide something more useful than your run-of-the-mill picture frame to provide some distraction and utility in the kitchen, on a nightstand, or desk-side, while piping away some streaming tunes.

While both debuted above $150 earlier in the year, they can now be found below that price.

Because of their limited hardware, navigating their controls isn't as smooth as it is on an iPad. The products could also be helped by improved responsiveness and more information that is personally relevant. The Dash, for example, just rolled out a traffic app that can help you plan your daily commute.

That takes us a step closer to the kind of information one wants to know at a glance.

Ross Rubin (@rossrubin on Twitter) is executive director of industry analysis at The NPD Group (@npdtech on Twitter). He blogs at The NPD Group Blog as well as his own blog, Out of the Box.

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