RealEase Shogo

The Rolls Royce of digital photo frames

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RealEase Shogo
  • RealEase Shogo
  • RealEase Shogo
  • RealEase Shogo

Pros

  • Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity, touch screen, 1GB of memory, battery, accelerometer, ShogoLive

Cons

  • Slow operation with memory cards, slightly chunky, no video support, some Wi-Fi problems

Bottom Line

The Shogo offers more features than you can poke a stick at. It has its shortcomings, but it has no rival at the moment in terms of features.

Would you buy this?

We're not sure if there was ever a king of digital photo frames, but if there was it has now been dethroned by the Shogo. With a dual-axis accelerometer, Ethernet, battery, touch screen, 1GB of internal memory and Wi-Fi, RealEase's new device seems more like an iPhone than your run-of-the-mill photo frame!

Digital photo frames have a tendency to stand out rather than blend in with living room decor, and the Shogo is no different. Unlike Echologic's elegant 11in Digital Photo Frame with its wooden frame, the Shogo is black, plastic and bulky. It definitely won't mesh with your average living room. However, if you live in a studio apartment populated by nothing but IKEA furniture, the Shogo may do the trick. It isn't ugly, but it stands out, resembling a rugged laptop rather than a simple photo frame.

The chunky frame is accompanied by an equally chunky remote, but we actually liked using it. The majority of the frame's functions can be accessed through the remote, with quick access buttons available for home, settings and back. All these can also be accessed from the frame's onboard buttons or its touch screen.

For connectivity the Shogo has Ethernet, Wi-Fi, two USB ports and a multi-card reader that supports SD, Memory Stick, MMS and xD. There's no support for CompactFlash, but given that it's a professional photography format it isn't an essential inclusion. There's also a built-in accelerometer that determines the frame's position. The feature works on two axes, allowing users to display pictures in both landscape and portrait modes.

Format support is limited to MP3s for audio and JPEGs for pictures, but the biggest disappointment is the lack of video format support. Although users are unlikely to treat their Shogo as a secondary television, the ability to quickly and easily view footage taken on a digital camera is a worthwhile function, and something unfortunately missing from the Shogo. Operation is smooth when dealing with internal memory, but things become slightly slow when using memory cards. Using a SanDisk 4GB SDHC Ducati Edition card in Shogo's Preview mode, it took an average of seven seconds for the frame to load an 8-megapixel picture's preview and load the next thumbnail. In full slideshow mode, the frame averaged 2.5 seconds when changing shots. Of course, the frame's 1GB of internal memory is more than enough to display photos at a fast pace, but if you're looking for a particular photo fresh from the camera, expect to wait a while.

Unfortunately, the screen has some flaws. From a metre away pictures look fantastic, but close up things look grainy. The screen's gloss coating is the biggest culprit here, creating noise that distorts the picture at close range. Gradients also suffer, becoming highly subject to a rainbow effect. The screen refused to display any pictures above 10 megapixels in either preview or full slideshow mode.

The Shogo's Wi-Fi and Ethernet connectivity allows access to ShogoLive. Through the Web site, users can create their own network of photo albums, Internet radio stations and weather widgets to sync with their Shogo and share with others. Users can use photo albums from a number of popular Web album directories such as Flickr, Photobucket, Picasa and MobileMe.

The service works well, though we did have some minor issues with the frame's Wi-Fi connection. The Shogo would easily connect to a wireless router within a five metre radius. However, the router refused to connect to the router at any distance greater than this. RealEase has suggested it will fix this issue in an upcoming firmware update, so this should resolve any qualms.

After all these features, the Shogo maintains a very reasonable price, making it an excellent alternative to other frames.

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