Digital photo frames have come a long way in the last two-three years… but now that there are so many to choose from, how do you pick the right one? Here with a handy guide on how to pick the right digital photo frame is our regular contributor Selin Tagmat! Enjoy!
Change is Never Easy
I remember the days when I wasn’t quite convinced about digital photo frames. This sudden switch from nicely printed photos to a digital display didn’t feel quite right. The first digital photo frames weren’t very visually appealing either, but times change, and digital photo frame design and technology has progressed rapidly in the last few years.
Today, having a digital photo frame at home is one of the best ways to enjoy your memories. They also make perfect gifts for our loved ones. Considering the large variety of digital photo frames available on the market, the question becomes: how do pick the right one? We’ll attempt to answer that question with this post.
Digital Photo Frame Checklist
Before jumping into a long list of the available digital photo frames on the market, it’s always helpful to have a general idea about your needs and expectations. Below is a quick checklist to help you figure this out – write down your answers and match them up to find the correct frame!
Display sizes for digital photo frames for home use generally range from 7 to 21 inches. The size is measured diagonally, just like with all other digital screens. There are also a few other larger size options up to 65 inches. These are specialized products for hanging on your wall to display special memories, artistic photos, or digital artwork. Expect bigger price tags in the latter category.
The best choice depends on your intended use and available budget. If you need a handy frame to place on your office desk, then you might go for a smaller screen. If you intend to use it as a decorative aspect in your living room to view it from different angles, then it’s best to use a larger one.
# Aspect Ratio
The aspect ratio is the proportional relationship between the width and height of an image on the screen. Digital photo frames use a 4:3 or 16:9 aspect ratio. 4:3 is the ideal aspect ratio for displaying photos taken with smartphones and cameras. If you want to display a good mix of photo and video memories, then 16:9 aspect ratio can be a good compromise for you. Most of the frames automatically stretch images to fit the screen size and that’s why it’s best to choose the right aspect ratio for your needs… you want your photos to look their best!
Having a digital photo frame with high resolution is key to enjoying your memories with a good image quality: You should have at least 480 x 720 resolution for a smaller size frame (like a 7-inch) while for larger frames, 1024 x 768 or above is a must (for 4:3 digital photo frames).
# Display Technology
As we view digital photo frames from different angles, it’s always an added value to choose a digital photo frame with an IPS (in-plane switching) and anti-glare display technology, if possible. These technologies allow viewing images on a digital screen without having angle dependency or reflection problems.
# Image Transfer and Storage
Digital photo frames offer lots of different ways to transfer your photos:
- The most practical way is to use a dedicated app on your smartphone or transfer your photos directly via Wi-Fi or Bluetooth.
- Some of them have USB or SD card slots for those who want to transfer their photos with a cable connection or from external cards and drives.
- More recent models offer integration with social media accounts and cloud-based services, like Google Photos.
- Some allow sending photos by email.
In other words, the photo transfer possibilities of a digital photo frame depends on its connection features: Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, cable, USB and card slots, etc.
Digital photo frames typically have 4GB or 8GB built-in memory storage while with some models it’s possible to have extra storage thanks to an SD card slot or a cloud integration. The only that offer cloud storage often have a subscription-based business model.
# File Formats
It’s important to know that some digital photo frames support only the JPEG file format while others are more flexible and display BMP, GIF, PNG and TIFF files. This is an important criteria to consider; if you buy a digital photo frame which only displays JPEGs and all your photos are in another format, then you’ll need to change the file format of your photos with a graphic software beforehand. That could become very cumbersome.
# User Interface
It’s important to choose a product that offers an easy-to-use interface depending on the technical abilities and preferences of the user, especially for navigation among menu items, use of buttons and touchscreens, connection to internet and other services, using apps, and sharing options.
Today, you can choose from a variety of color and material options as well as matte or glossy screens. Your choice will mostly depend on your home decor preferences as well as light conditions. For example, if you have a lot of light in your room, then you’re better off choosing a matte display to avoid extreme reflections.
Another design aspect is whether you want to place your digital photo frame as a stand alone item or to hang it on the wall. Be sure to imagine beforehand how a digital photo frame would look when placed or hung in your space, especially if there’s a cable connection involved.
# Power Source
All digital photo frames need a power source (at least as of now), but there are some models that offer cordless use for up to four hours. Consider a cordless option if you want some portability. As organizers, we are always in favor of having less cords; that way, there’s less to tangle.
# Extra Features
- Some digital photo frames automatically detect landscape/portrait photos and orient them accordingly. This is a handy time-saver instead of rotating them manually.
- Motion sensors and timers are very important features to look for in a digital photo frame to avoid continuous power use and reduce your environmental impact.
- Other types of integrated functions, such as a clock, calendar and reminders can be interesting for those who want to use their digital photo frame as a kind of daily organizer as well.
- Some digital photo frames can be used for other functions, such as games, voice calls, audio recordings, and viewing art works and TV channels.
Our Top Selection of Digital Photo Frames
There are plenty of digital photo frame options on the market, but here’s a well-research selection of good products addressing different types of needs, users, and budgets.
The list starts from the simplest products with basic features to more sophisticated products with advanced features. Wherever possible, a budget alternative is also mentioned. So, rather than a ranking, we aim to provide a wide range of digital photo frame examples from different categories.
Digital Photo Frames without Wi-Fi
The following frames have no wifi access, but are still good options based on our other criteria:
NIX by Nixplay
NIX is a digital photo frame series by Nixplay with two main products: NIX Advance and NIX Digital Photo Frames. This series is characterized by simple but good quality digital photo frames, suitable for those who don’t need a Wi-Fi connection. Photos and videos are displayed directly by inserting a USB flash drive or SD card, so they have no internal storage either.
The NIX series make ideal gifts for older family members who don’t have Wi-Fi at home, or who simply prefer to have a plug-and-play device. They offer some extra features like a clock, a calendar and motion sensors as well. They also have built-in speakers for playing video sounds.
The NIX series offer different display sizes (8, 10, 13 and 15 inches), all with high resolution, and some of them with full HD. While NIX Advance is designed as a standup frame to be placed on a surface, NIX Digital Photo Frames can also be mounted on the wall.
# Tenswall Frames
If you’re looking for a budget option without Wi-Fi, take a look at Tenswall’s line of frames. They have more or less the same features as the NIX series and will be a suitable alternative. In addition to that, they offer widescreen high resolution IPS display, support a larger number of photo and video formats, and has quite good customer reviews on Amazon. You can buy Tenswall frames on Amazon; the 7-inch for $39.99 and the 10-inch for $69.99. Good quality for the price.
Digital Photo Frames With Wi-Fi :
The following frames have wifi access, and usually come with some sort of cloud integration.
Nixplay Smart Photo Frames
Want a simple and good quality digital photo frame with Wi-Fi connection? Well, Nixplay is the top brand for digital photo frames with handy features and a variety of size options.
Nixplay’s newest Wifi and cloud-connected digital frames are called Smart Photo Frames. There are 9, 10, 13 and 15-inch options available, all with IPS display technology and 8GB built-in storage. The frame has standard speakers and can be used free-standing or wall mounted. The only limitation of the Nixplay frames is that the maximum duration for a video playback is 15 seconds.
Photos and videos can be uploaded through the Nixplay app from your smartphone, and it’s also compatible with Google Photos, Dropbox, Facebook, and Instagram. You can manage your albums with Amazon Alexa and Google Assistant.
On the Nixplay website, the 10-inch is sold for $179.99 and the 15-inch for $279.99.
# Nixplay Seed Wave
If you want to go one step further and enjoy a few more cool features, check out Nixplay’s Seed Wave line of frames. It has all the features of a standard Nixplay wifi digital photo frame, and also comes with powerful speakers to allow music streaming from your Bluetooth devices. It’s also compatible with Spotify. The 13-inch Nixplay Seed Wave with full HD display is sold for $259.99 on the Nixplay website. It includes 8GB internal storage and 10 GBs worth of cloud storage.
For the Less Tech-Savvy:
This frame is suitable for newbies and those who aren’t into tech.
Digital photo frames are one of the best ways to keep the whole family connected, especially for our older loved ones. The Pix-Star is designed as a digital photo frame with features aimed at making it a companion to seniors. It’s an interesting option for the younger generation as well, especially considering its competitive price.
Pix-Star offers 10-inch and 15-inch high resolution display options with a wide range of connection possibilities: wifi, cloud, SD card, and USB. It works with Google Photos, Facebook, Instagram, OneDrive, Google Drive, Dropbox, Flickr and SmugMug. It comes with 8GB internal storage, as well as free unlimited cloud storage. It’s possible to upload photos by email, though the app, or online.
A Pix-Star digital photo frame allows its user to enjoy music, web stations, games for the brain, time & weather, calendar & reminders and contact lists. It’s sold on Amazon; the 10-inch model goes for around $154.99 and the 15-inch model for $199.99.
For Google Ecosystem Users:
If you love Google, you might as well go with their product!
# Google Nest Hub
Do you use the Google ecosystem at home or store your memories on Google Photos? Perhaps both? Then, maybe you could consider using Google Nest Hub to enjoy your photos, rather than investing in another digital photo frame?
Google Nest Hub is not a digital photo frame as such, but it’s a multi-functional device, and it performs quite well as a digital photo frame too. It works as a personal organizer and has the weather forecast, a calendar, a clock, reminders, and map. What’s more, you can watch YouTube videos, listen to Spotify, and have live video chats with your family and friends.
Without the need for a manual transfer, this digital photo frame displays a selection of photos from your Google Photos albums and it also works with Google Assistant.
Google Nest Hub has a 7-inch touchscreen with 1024 x 600 resolution, while Google Nest Hub Max offers a bit larger touchscreen (10 inches) with 1280 x 800 resolution. Both are sold via the Google Store for $129 and $229 respectively. There are other high quality digital photo frames available for this price on the market, but this option can still be interesting for those who are looking for an integrated Google ecosystem.
Let’s Go Cordless (Frame & Album in One):
The following frames function both as albums and frames in one, which can be quite useful.
# Photo Spring
Photo Spring is one of the new generation products that’s turning digital photo frames into digital family albums. With its built-in battery with four hour battery life and touchscreen interface, indeed you can just pick it up and browse photo and video albums in the comfort of your sofa.
With its wifi connection, it’s possible to receive and send photos among family members and friends with Photo Spring. This can be done by using its app (for smartphones and computers), email, web browser based uploader and cloud integration with Google Photos and Flickr. It’s sold on the Photo Spring website: the 8-inch is $119 and the 10-inch is $159.
Joy is a 10-inch full HD touchscreen that functions as a digital photo frame and family album on its own wireless charging stand. With this one, you can display photos and videos in nice album-like layouts. It’s nice that you can view photos and a video together, for example. Joy also integrates voice notes and story-telling function to bring far away family members closer. It’s sold for $199 on the Joy website. You’ll need a subscription for the cloud storage, so you can create your albums.
Finally, Loop is another 10-inch high resolution digital photo frame with four-hour cordless battery life. It brings in the video chat feature to the scene and has a unique retro design. Loop is super easy to set up and use for sharing options, so it’s an ideal gift for family members with different technical knowledge levels. On the Loop website, it comes with the price tag of $299.
Extra Large Format for Photography & Art Lovers:
Artist? You’ll want something that can highlight your work the right way!
# Meural Canvas
Here, I’d like to go a bit more beyond to digital photo frames and include a fascinating new generation product: Meural Canvas is a 27-inch digital frame with IPS display and anti-glare technology. Combining this with its 1920 X 1080 full HD resolution, it offers a high quality and large format display for photography and works of art. It has 8 GB built-in and 4 GB cloud storage.
Of course, more features and a larger size comes with a higher price tag: On the Meural Canvas website, it costs $595 including a standard hanging system. If you want to upload and display your own photos and works of art, then you can do it for free once you purchase Meural Canvas. If you want to benefit from the database with 30 000 works of art (and 20 GB of additional cloud storage), you’ll need a subscription for $69.95 annually or $8.95 monthly.
# Samsung The Frame
Want to go even further? Then maybe check out Samsung’s The Frame: it’s a 65-inch TV and digital frame at the same time sold for＄2799.99. If you’re the “go big or go home” type of person, you’ll love it.
Have You Made Your Choice Yet?
Indeed there are lots of different digital photo frames on the market to choose from and for sure, there’s a good option for everyone. Now you have a good idea about what kind of features to look for in a digital photo frame, try one out, and let us know in the comments below which one you chose and why!
Take this brand new year as an opportunity to organize your photo and video memories: Get inspired by our top posts for photo organizing beginners. Put your memories in order, and enjoy them to the fullest this year! You won’t regret it!