Hands On: Sungale Desk Lamp Photo Frame

Mari Silbey —  September 16, 2009 — 5 Comments

Sungale desk lamp

In my continuing quest to find meaningful evolution in the digital photo frame space, I stumbled upon the Sungale desk lamp with photo and video display. Not long ago I reviewed a Sungale touch-screen frame, and came away hoping for more. But the desk lamp is a different story. The photos are sharp on the 3.5″ screen, video is surprisingly crisp and easy to upload, and the device even plays any MP3 files you’ve got. My one hesitation here is that the lamp retails for $100 ($90 at Amazon). It’s probably not an unreasonable price, but I still find it hard to justify in my own budget as someone who would normally spend about $15 for a desk light. If your price range is higher, however, you should definitely give the Sungale lamp a whirl. It’s a lot of fun and would be a good gadget gift for the office worker.

First off, this desk lamp doesn’t disappoint in its primary function. The light is bright, soft, and easily flexes in any direction. It’s also energy efficient, consuming only 5W of power.

Getting beyond the lighting function, the lamp has a little pop-up LCD screen that resides in the base. As a photo frame, it’s a bit small, but remarkably clear. The screen gets 320×240 resolution, and the lamp has 512 MB of built-in memory. You can also plug in your camera’s memory card (SD, MMC, MS), or connect to a computer via USB. Transporting photos was easy. My PC opened up a dialog box asking if I wanted to connect using the “program provided on the device.” The software isn’t flashy, but it’s perfectly serviceable, and settings on the lamp allowed me to control the slide-show display.

Sungale desk lamp main menu

Video on the small screen is also surprisingly good. Really. Any gadgety type would be proud to show off kid clips or inspiring videos of Homer Simpson praising beer during a mid-afternoon office lull. Again, transferring videos to the device is not difficult, and one click of the “video” button on the base will start up your mini movies. (You also select any specific clip by going into the on-screen menu.)

Finally, the Sungale desk lamp lets you play any MP3s you like. Since it’s not primarily a music player, this feature isn’t terrifically useful, but you can upload favorite songs or audio clips and enjoy them at will. Music will run with or without your photo display.

All in all, the desk lamp photo frame from Sungale is high quality, simple to use, and lots of fun. It’s available for purchase now within the US.

Click to enlarge:

5 responses to Hands On: Sungale Desk Lamp Photo Frame

  1. I like the look of it’s design. $90 isn’t that bad if you’re looking for a digital photo frame, but would be high if you were looking for a lamp. I could see the video function coming in real helpful. If they created a way to connect it to the net, you could stream March Madness on it and hide the screen when the boss was around. Do you know which codecs it supports?

  2. Davis- It doesn’t do any type of streaming at the moment, though that would be awesome. Codecs supported: MJPEG / AVI / MPEG4

    I was seriously surprised at the quality of the video, but it’s really only good for a few clips you might want to pull up on a regular basis. Goad an office mate with a particular sports clip, show off your kid, have a funny clip on hand for long afternoons, etc.

    Of course, in theory, a sports entity like ESPN could brand something like this with an Internet connection and provide sports streams. But if you’ve got a streaming connection, why limit yourself to only sports? And then again, why do this on a small screen if your computer is nearby. There is some appeal, but I’m not sure there would be enough of an audience unless it was really cheap. And it wouldn’t be.

    Anyway, yes, and Internet connection would be the right next step. I was hoping the Sungale IP-connected photo frame (not desk lamp) I reviewed a while back would work well. Not so much. Can’t believe no one seems to have done this effectively yet.

  3. It’s possibly a more interesting form factor than the first gen Chumby, which does have those network-connected widgets we want. $90 isn’t horrible and it looks pretty nice as a desk accessory.

  4. It’s interesting that they use WMA for the audio support, but then leave off WMV support. I guess it’s like you said not really meant for power video. I do like the idea of a tuck away screen though and even if it wasn’t built into a lamp, it’d be cool to have something like this for places that you don’t normally keep a computer.

  5. I too was thinking of marrying a Chumby-type device to the lamp.

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