If you are a smartphone user with children who is looking for a gift for your technology-phobic parents, I have just the thing for you: the T-Mobile cameo.
I’m sure this situation is familiar to many of you: Your parents complain that you don’t send them enough pictures of their grandkids, but either they don’t have email or they don’t know how to get images off their computer to print them out.
Your parents don’t have to do anything, which means they won’t be on the phone asking you to fix whatever crazy thing they have done to mess it up.
The cameo is a digital picture frame with its own dedicated phone number. You send photos to it by attaching them to emails or MMS messages.
Because it’s connected to T-Mobile’s network, it can be used almost anywhere. Whoever is using it (like your parents) doesn’t have to have a wireless network or even dial-up.
You use your smartphone to take a picture — say of your son’s Little League game — and email it to the cameo. And it appears. That’s it.
There’s a very small bit of initial setup, which I suggest you do yourself if you’re planning on giving this device to someone who doesn’t like gadgets. It’s easy, though. Just send an image to the frame from an email account you’re going to use later to send pictures, and tell the cameo to accept it and all future images from this account. There, you’re done.
You can also load pictures on this digital frame with it SD card slot or USB port, which is a handy way to put some images on it before you make a present out of it.
The T-Mobile cameo has 7-inch, 720-by-480-pixel display surrounded by a leather frame. You’re probably thinking “That’s not very big”, and you’re right. But I think it’s large enough. It’s certainly bigger than the prints most people make of their pictures.
The cameo can be set up in a horizontal or portrait orientation, and it will automatically rotate and resize images on the fly so that they look as good as possible.
This isn’t necessary, but I suggest you pick an orientation for the images you’re going to send to the cameo and stick with it. For example, take all your pictures in landscape mode, and then tell your parents to set the frame up that way, too. That will make your pictures look their best. The cameo can reduce the size of a landscape-oriented picture so it shows up on a portrait-oriented screen, but it’s not going to look very good.
This frame has limits when it comes to resizing pictures. It happily took images from the 3.2 MPx camera on my T-Mobile G1, but when I tried to email it an image taken with a high-resolution digital camera, the message bounced back because it was too large. (I can’t really blame it; the file was about 4 MB.) So you’re mostly limited to pictures taken with a smartphone or low-resolution camera.
Also, you can send pictures in an MMS message, but this format limits the size/resolution of images. They’ll show up on the cameo, but won’t fill up the screen.
As I said earlier, when the cameo receives a message with an image attached from a new sender, it asks you if you want to approve it. If you give this device to techno-phobic parents, I strongly recommend you warn them to deny messages from anyone whose number or address they don’t recognize.
I doubt your elderly mother would be amused if some spammer’s porn showed up on her photo frame.
The T-Mobile cameo costs $100 and requires a $10 monthly service charge. That’s not cheap, but please keep the special advantages of this device in mind.
Let me explain by example. I went to visit my in-laws for Thanksgiving. While I was there, I found a digital picture frame on a shelf gathering dust. This was a nice one, but my wife’s parents had gotten tired of the images on it and turned it off. Of course, they didn’t have a clue how it worked, so they couldn’t put fresh pictures on it. And they don’t have email, so the only way to put new pictures on it was for one of their kids to drive over and load them manually.
Now imagine in they had a cameo, and all their kids and grandkids could load images on it from wherever they are. There’s no way it would wind up gathering dust in a closet.
Think about it: your parents would enjoy seeing what’s going on in the family without tangling with a bunch of technical stuff that they don’t understand, which means fewer tech-support calls to you. It’s a gift for them and a gift for you, too.
The cameo can be found now at many of T-Mobile’s retail stores.