i-Mate : IDisposable

Andrew blogged about receiving an i-Mate Momento digital picture frame awhile back.  Everyone on the team received one -- and it's just so cool to get gifts like this from management every-so-often.  It's one of the reasons I love working for Microsoft.

The frame lets you do lots of cool things, like e-mail pictures to it (or another frame), pull images/data from a wireless LAN, and for the uber cool, implement Windows Side Show.  (There's even a picture of the frame in action on the side show site... cool!)

Sounds great ... if it worked.

I'm sad to say that my frame is little more than a back-lit paperweight.  The i-Mate folks have some pretty abysmal support, despite their site claiming, "Purchase includes 24/7 world-class customer support."   My experience has been far from 24/7 and definitely not world-class.

So here's the scoop.  Got the frame and the initial setup went ok, pulling pictures from one of my computers on the LAN.  After a week or two, I noticed the remote stopped working.  At first it seemed like a dying battery as commands would sometimes get through if the remote was close enough to the frame.  So, I put a new battery (one of those small, CMOS-style batteries) on the shopping list, which inevitably took two months to get.

By this time, the computer I was syncing with was no more, reformatted and now a new machine, so the Momento started showing (what must be) built in sample pictures as, of course, its source was no more.  I popped the new battery in the remote and -- nothing.  I went to the Momento troubleshooting page, and tried to reassociate the remote multiple times, but still no luck.  Since RF is pretty much invisible, I can't tell if the remote or the frame is the issue.

A design flaw of the device is that everything has to be configured via the remote.   Change source?  Need the remote.  Factory reset?  Just use the remote.  I should be able to via USB or a web interface change settings, but I can't.   If your remote dies or is lost (or, if the device just stops responding to remotes), you're hosed.  So, I essentially have a back-lit paper weight.

These things happen but where it gets unfortunate is that I've only received one e-mail from customer service.  In my original request I pretty much explain what I did above (corporate gift, tried new battery/reassociating remote, etc.) and the response I got was essentially, "Just try reassociating your remote, and if that doesn't work, take it back to the store where you bought it." 

Eh?  Obviously my original message wasn't read too carefully.  Oh well.

I've tried to write back several times now over the past few weeks, but have gotten no response.  It's too bad, 'cause I really wanted to get the side show stuff working. 

EDIT 1/10/2008: 2 month follow-up:
Right before the holidays, I was able to get in contact with someone on the management team.  They were really helpful at getting the situation resolved.  They first tried sending a new remote, which unfortunately didn't solve the problem.  Next, they tried sending a new unit.  Here's the cool part: they upgraded me from the 7" unit to a 10" unit!  Cool.

So, I'm back up and running now.  Hopefully I was just one of the few that fell through the cracks, but I appreciated their efforts in taking me seriously!
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