Taking a simple idea and wrapping it in a kitschy exterior is one of the surest ways to our hearts. Photo sharing is pretty well-worn ground at this point, but Loop has managed to make an impression at CES 2016 with its charming ’50s-style exterior and the ability to include all member of the family, no matter how technologically proficient.
Loop is a 9″ HD display designed to display pictures — simple enough, but the difference is in Loop’s software. Loop makes it easier to share photos with a small group of friends and family. Those with the Loop app can snap pictures or upload pictures from Dropbox, Instagram, Facebook, Flickr, and the like, then choose whose Loop to share them with. That’s why Loop has special pricing when you buy multiple units — the idea is that every member of a spread out family has one, allowing them to instantly have new pictures from loved ones on display. That’s ideal for grandparents and parents who didn’t get on the tech boat — for them, once a more tech-minded family member has set Loop up, using it is as simple as watching new pictures come in.
This helps to explain Loop’s vintage-looking exterior, too. On the side of the unit, there are two knobs that look like ones you’d find on an old television — the top one moves through pictures in a collection, while the bottom knob changes the channel. Channels are basically albums — this can either be specific sets of vacation pictures or a different photo source (e.g. Instagram, Facebook, etc). Channels are organized on the companion app and shared with individual Loops or all Loops connected to the private network.
There are plenty of other cool features that make Loop a great, well-conceived product. The display automatically dims according to ambient light and shuts off when it detects there’s no one in the room, conserving energy. There’s also a Micro SD card slot to directly transfer or watch pictures or video and a built-in carry strap for portability. The top of the Loop is touch-sensitive, and will Like a picture on Facebook or Instagram with a tap. Loop has both Wi-Fi and Bluetooth connectivity to keep it connected to the network, and there is a built-in speaker, with the production team saying that streaming audio will be a feature in the future.
Loop is scheduled to ship this summer. You can preorder one at a discount for $200 now, or order two for $180 each or three for $150 each.