Photo and Video Gift Ideas [2010 Cool Yule Tools]

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Finally, this scanner has to be fed photos one at a time, and it’s not the fastest. Maybe it would be useful if you only had a few pictures that you wanted to scan, especially if they are old photos, but if you have shoeboxes or albums filled with photos that you want to scan, this is not the scanner for you.

Cool Yule rating: 2 starsPrice: About $150Company Web siteReviewed by Jen Finn

Vizit 10.4-inch photo frame with mobile updatesThe Vizit photo frame is a digital picture frame that includes a SIM card slot in the base of the unit. The SIM allows for new photos to be received across the mobile cellular network. In order to receive the updates, you have to subscribe to a service plan – the basic plan costs $5.99 per month and lets you receive 100 photos per month. The premium plan, at $79.99 per year ($6.67 per month), gives you up to 1,450 photos per year (about 120 per month).

Authorized users (you send out invites to friends, family) can send new photos to the frame by sending an e-mail with a photo attachment to the frame’s address (when you get the frame you get a special e-mail address for the frame). About a minute or two after you send the photos, they should start appearing on the frame. The Vizit frame can store up to 150 photos on the device, after that it starts deleting the oldest photos. But don’t worry – older photos are still saved in the cloud, and you can select photos as “Favorites” that won’t be deleted. You can also stream photos from Photobucket, and Life Magazine has a “photo of the day” that you can sign up to receive.

The display doesn’t have a remote control (boo!), but the display does have a very rudimentary touch-screen interface that didn’t work half the time. Each selection required a very hard finger push, hopefully new versions will include a better sensitive touch screen, plus a remote. So there are still a few rough edges to the device.

However, I love the concept behind the Vizit – have a continually updated stream of photos that can come to the machine via phone or e-mail. Some hardware improvements and control options would make the next version even more impressive.

Cool Yule rating: 2.5 starsPrice: $280 for the frame, plus subscription service for mobile network uploads.Company Web siteReviewed by Keith Shaw

Dropcam Echo Wi-Fi Security camera, by 88volts Inc.Over the years I’ve seen a bunch of network video cameras (both wired and wireless) that let you view activity over the Internet, so receiving a Dropcam camera (branded by Axis) was no big deal. However, installing the camera was probably the easiest install I’ve done with one of these cameras in a long time.

Setting the camera up involved connecting to a wired network (the instructions say router, but fortunately I had a powerline adapter and Ethernet cable that also worked), and then going to the Dropcam Web site to enter an access code. After a few seconds, the camera started showing me images from the camera, and it also quickly detected my Wi-Fi network. I typed in the security code through the Web site, and the camera was now Wi-Fi enabled, in case I wanted to move the camera away from a wired location. The process was very, very simple.

The camera allows for live viewing via Web browser, or you can download a free iPhone app to let you view the video feed from the iPhone. Premium plans include the ability to store video footage on Dropcam’s secure servers (for either 7 or 30 days, depending on the plan you choose), and you can get motion or audio-detection alerts via e-mail or mobile text message.

The iPhone app was also easy to use, I just logged in with my Dropcam account and was able to view the events (motion-detection saves) and the life feed. I then realized that nothing really interesting happens outside my house, so I need to figure out some good things to watch.

Obviously, this is aimed at people who want to keep an eye on things from a different location, whether it’s monitoring a home from their office (or a vacation home), or watch pets or kids when they’re away. The security angle is nice, but probably geared more towards small businesses who want an inexpensive video monitoring system.

Cool Yule rating: 4 starsPrice: $279 for the camera and basic plan (free live viewing, iPhone app). Service plans allow for cloud storage of video files for 7 or 30 days, and e-mail and mobile alerts of video activity.Company Web siteReviewed by Keith Shaw

Read more about data center in Network World's Data Center section.

This story, "Photo and Video Gift Ideas [2010 Cool Yule Tools]" was originally published by Network World.

Copyright © 2010 IDG Communications, Inc.

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