How to Choose Best Digital Photo Frames in 2017 | Guide & Reviews
Today, everybody can capture those memorable beautiful moments of their life in digital form. But those pictures, while saved to computer hard drives or flash drives, usually have no more everyday use than an old dusty grandmothers photo album. Yes, you come back to it, from time to time. But as a matter of fact, those memories are spending most of their life in bookshelves or among old stuff in the attic. So it’s no wonder that we might lose them in that mess or even forget about their existence at all. Same things happen to pictures we store in digital form. The main point of joy, that you get when looking at those pleasurable memories, is totally lost. Except it can be fixed. Easily, for that matter. Picture frames! I know, right? It’s an old invention. It is even older than photography itself. They have been used for a few thousand years actually. But you don’t need to go about printing every one and each great photo you have made to then put them in hundreds of photo frames. That would be highly inconvenient. The only solution to keep memories from constantly fading away, and highly practical one, is buying a digital picture frame. Obviously, you know that already. But which one to choose? The best digital photo frames, obviously! But you know that too, right? But seriously, large diversity of brands, technical specifications, sizes etc. makes it a hard task. Almost as challenging as picking a new smartphone or a television. Further I’ll show you what exactly you need to be looking at, in order to pick the perfect one for your needs. But, if you are in a hurry, or simply want to see the best choices out there, here is the list of best digital photo frames in 2017 :
In-depth Review of Best Digital Photo Frames
Pix-Star 10.4 Inch digital photo frame is one of the best models on the market. Actually, Pix-Star is an established brand, and they offer different sizes and some of the most modern techological achievements in the industry. This model is offered in two sizes – 10.4 and 15-inches. The 4:3 aspect ratio 800×600 LCD screen provides outstanding image quality. Beside usual image formats you can also play GIFs on Pix-Star. They will be comfortably put in the 4GB built-in memory storage. Furthermore, this device has USB port and supports various popular card formats. Even more, it uses Wifi connection.
Key features are the best part – Pix-Star digital frames get their own email adress for free, and manufacturer claims it to have Unlimited Storage capacity. So what that means? Simply, you can send mails to your digital frame with pictures attached and played immediately. It is easily configurable. And my favourite is the ability to sync and load photos from almost any image networks out there: Google+, Facebook, Dropbox, FlickR etc. This digital frame can be totally automated, and as a bonus you can listen to radio stations, display weather forecasts or even play games.
Price is quite high, but if you want quality and established frames brand, it’s reasonable. Moreover, i can’t stress enough how easily configured and automated it is, besides ability to sync all of the personal media through your accounts.
Micca 10-Inch Natural View photo frame is more of as style choice. This stylish black frame is very thin – just 7mm. The 10″ 1024×768 LCD Display contributes to immense detail and quality. Good news that you also can play MPEG4-encoded AVI/MP4 video files and MP3 music on Micca Natural View. It has built-in speakers and a headphone jack. Comes with a 8GB memory card, but you can buy memory card of bigger capacity if you want. Also, an option for via-USB PC connection for easy data transfer.
This one is easy to use, highly configurable. And even more – it plays video+music, and a display is quite good with decent resolution and specifications. Personally, I think it’s good choice for a fair price, especially if it meets your needs.
Philips 10.4 comes with 3 sizes: 7-, 8- and 10,4 inch. Wooden frames color is brown. LCD Display with 4:3 aspect ratio has 800×600 pixel resolution. 128MB of preinstalled memory. USB port for easy data transfer. For external data storage devices, there is memory card slot. On top of that, there are some usual features, like slideshow, autorotation and possibility to tag pictures right on digital frame. This model IS wall-mountable.
Although Philips is huge trusted company and this model has quite good characteristics and overall is not bad, there are numerous customer complaints. Personally, I can’t comment on that, because it didn’t break on me, but for some people this frame breaks after few months altogether or just doesn’t work properly. One more thing, philips frame has quite low internal storage capacity, 128MB is not much and for some people buying memory cards is just too much hassle, especially if it’s going to be a gift.
This is one of my personal best digital photo frames. Now i’m going to explain why. First of all, tasteful design – nothing excessive, small neat outer frame. Nixplay Seed comes in 4 different colors: Black, Blue, Mango, Mulberry. Colors are not too bright, with enjoyable smooth tones.
Techical specifications – 9.7 Inch Hi-Res 1024×768 IPS Display offers high quality images with great depth and colors. Moreover, Nixplay digital frame is equipped with Motion Sensor, so it’s less power consuming and very convenient. Due to WiFi connectivity and free Nixplay cloud account, you can transfer data with ease and store as much as 10GB. More on automation and setup: there is Nixplay Mobile App to send photos directly to frame from your smartphone. Also, options to sync and upload to most social media platforms(Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, Picasa etc). You can setup the frame from distance, add playlists and some other key features like shuffle, photo transitions, captions, clock and more.
Overall, Nixplay is a modern stylish choice, on of the best digital photo frames on the market, with alot of useful convenient functions for everyday life. And it would be a great gift for parents, especially if they’re not tech savvy, since you can setup and upload from distance, even through your smartphone.
NIX Advance is another popular great device from a trusted digital frames manufacturer. Modern IPS (4:3) LED Backlit Display with 1024×768 High Resolution, which means great image quality. Ability to playback 720p HD Video is outstanding bonus, moreover you can mix photos and video in the same slideshow which is a cool addition. On top of that Nix Advance features Motion Sensor, so the frame turns on when you come in and turns off when you leave. Storage capacity consists of included 8GB thumb portable memory, also this digital frame accepts USB + SD/SDHC memory cards.
Overall, fast processor, power saving techologies, easy intuitive controls and setup, with amazing features like video playback on top of that, makes this digital frame a great addition to any household. It will also be a prefect gift for your loved ones.
How to Choose Digital Picture Frame Guide
And now onto some basic research. Market is full of different types of electronic frames – premium or budget variants, big or small, with different featured technologies. So, what exactly are we looking for?
Well, it depends on what you already have in mind. And by that I mean for you to consider how photo frame will be used (purely decorative or more memorable purpose), where will it be placed, how often you’re going to add new photos and so on.
First of all, consider the style and color of the frame which suits your decor. Be aware, that some frames have to be plugged in, so you need to place it near wall socket and it will have a wire coming from the back. Be sure, that your new frame will fit perfectly in its supposed place. A lot of factors contribute to the best digital photo frames. They are not just an alternative to photo albums and conventional photo frames, they are rather natural evolution.
Digital Photo Frame is made up of a faceplates or frame borders surrounding the screen, which can be replaced, LCD-display, battery, controls, wiring connectors and, in some cases, built-in speakers for listening music. Some photo frames, in order to reduce the number of buttons and switches on the device, equipped with touch screens. However, touch glass degrades image quality, and it will be covered in fingerprints.
The thickness of the frame can range from 1.0 to 15.0 cm, width – from 4.4 to 50 cm, height also can be from 4.9 to 37.5 cm. Last two parameters depend on the size of the display. Photo frame weight can range from 23 to 3210 g. Besides, nowadays you can find even bigger frames on the market.
All digital photo frames come with the USB-port for computer connection or data reading from a flash drive and a headphone jack. Some models of photo frames, as noted above, have built-in speakers to play music, or you can connect your headphones.
The main purpose of this device is to enjoy photos shown on a digital display. Most modern models usually have some built-in storage capacity (up to 1 GB), although there may be none. But in all cases you can view photos from external digital media via USB or flash cards.
There are two most common aspect ratios in which digital frames have ability to display images – 4:3 (also known as 4×3, 1.33:1, or standard) and 16:9 (16×9, 1.78:1, or widescreen). Also, some manufacturers offer “panoramic” viewing (generally considered to be 3:1 aspect ratio) on their frames. Although, it’s possible to encounter models with other aspect ratios, like 15:9, 16:10 but don’t be confused, basically it is 16:9 widescreen format.
Most pictures we take in everyday life have 4:3 ratio. So, in case if your frame displays only 16:9, your 4:3 pictures will be cropped or stretched. You might want to check exactly what types of photos you are going to use and pick accordingly.
Size can go up from just 1 inch keychain displays to large wall-mounted 32 inch displays. Most common everyday frames are in 7 to 15-inch range. It is important to know that you can put almost any digital picture frame on the wall, or position it on desk or table. Pick size according to environment it will be part of, and purpose it will have. Note, that some manufacturers indicate display size by frame itself and not screen. Be sure to check technical details for that matter.
Screen Type and Resolution
Since the picture frame – is, in fact, a small LCD-display, the important parameters for it is the contrast and brightness. Brightness describes the intensity of the display illumination. Measured this option in candelas per square meter (cd / m2). Most photo frames have the display brightness of 200-300 cd / m2.
When choosing a photo frame, pay attention to the resolution of the display. This parameter is responsible for the quality and detail of the image, it is very important. Horizontally it may be in the range from 96 to 1600 pixels, vertically – from 64 to 1200. The larger number of pixels, means they are smaller, which corresponds to the better quality of the image. As a rule of thumb, larger frames should have higher resolution for best image quality.
Contrast is another important parameter to consider when choosing absolutely the best digital photo frames. It is the ratio of lightest area to the darkest. The brighter matrix displays a white color, the richer is black. For photo frames contrast level shouldn’t be lower than 200: 1. Which means that the white areas should be 200 times brighter than black.
Angle – also important parameter regarding the LCD matrix, and thus the digital photo frame. LCD-matrix – a multi-layered surface in which the pixels are optically isolated from each other by polarization filters, and the backlight lamps or LEDs are arranged at a very small, but nevertheless non-zero distance therefrom. The light passing through the cell, gets into a kind of “well”, which limits the scope of its dispersion, so at the slightest deviation from the angle of view, appear distorted, resulting in deterioration of image quality. For comfortable viewing sufficient viewing angle is 160-170 degrees. Better viewing angle usually comes with higher resolution frames.
For digital frames, vertical viewing angle is between 60 and 170 degrees, and horizontally – from 100 to 180 degrees. Accordingly, that the upper values refer to thin and expensive matrix, which invariably affects the price. If the viewing angle is below 160-170 degrees – usually for low-end models – you will have to think where to put a frame in a room, to clearly see image from everywhere. Therefore, I recommend that you pay attention to these important parameters, so you can get the best experience from your digital frame.
Furthermore, beside LCD screens, there are also TFT (which is basically subtype of LCD) and OLED screens. OLED display technology is used in small handful of digital frames. They provide brighter, sharper image and use less power, while being even thinner than LCD screens. Usually OLED displays are more expensive.
Storage and Data Transfer
There are various ways to export images or videos to your digital frame. Depending on device model it can use – memory cards, thumb drives, USB to PC connection, Ethernet, wireless or Bluetooth connection.
Most frames have their own storage. Onboard storage can vary from very low to moderate capacity. But on some frames it can go as high as 80 GB. Consider those models if you don’t want to use external storage devices. It is highly convenient, as you can just transfer all of your images at once and forget about it for some time.
Memory cards are used as external data storage for the device. Storage capacity of memory card can go as high as 128 GB. That means that you can show thousands of pictures on your digital frame.
Make sure that your memory card is compatible with desired frame. Most common external storage devices in use:
- USB Flash.
- Compact Flash. One of the most common formats that are supported by many digital cameras, PDAs, mp3-players and other devices.
- Memory Stick. If you wish to view photos from the Memory Stick, Memory Stick Pro, Memory Stick Duo (smaller version of the Memory Stick) or Memory Stick Pro Duo (a smaller version of Memory Stick Pro), which is only used in a Sony product, then make sure that the Frame support these formats. To use the Memory Stick Duo in the photo frame with a slot for Memory Stick, you need a special adapter. The difference from the Memory Stick Memory Stick Pro is larger capacity, higher data rates and an interface that is backward compatible. For devices with a Memory Stick Pro slot, you can use a Memory Stick, but not vice versa. To use the micro Memory Stick, you need an adapter, which is usually available in the package.
- Secure Digital. One of the most common storage format which main feature is a possibility for the protection of information stored on the card.
- xD-Picture. This card is intended mainly for storing digital movies, and photos, is highly reliable, compact, have the lowest power consumption rates among carriers and good performance in speed and reading.
- Microdrive (MD) card.
In addition, some manufacturers offer web storage option for their devices. If your digital frame has WiFi or Ethernet connection you can load data to website and viceversa.
Digital Photo Frame can support the following formats:
- Graphic. JPEG, GIF, BMP, PPT, PNG, EXIF, TIFF.
- Audio. Photo frame with the function of listening to music, should support MP3 and WMA formats.
- Video. MPEG-4, MPEG-1, AVI, MPEG-2, WMV, MOV, DivX.
Keep that in mind when you are planning to transfer particular images or videos to electronic frame.
All types of devices come with some sort of user interface, through which you can control your frame. They are getting more complex with time, and newer models get more functionality. Frames feature a range of functions, from the simplest – the remote control, alarm clock, clock, timer to special modes. By the way, some photo frames are only using remote control.
The timer can be set up so that it will turn on the frame by the time you get home, so frames lifetime will be considerably longer. The preview function enables 6, 9 or 12 pictures displayed at the same time. Zoom function allows you to magnify the picture by increasing the size of the pixels that make up an image. To some extent various photo frames allow editing functionality, like cropping, rotating etc.
All digital photo frames have a slide-show mode – changing sequence of images, which can be accompanied by different optical effects and animations. The duration of the particular image displayed can be adjusted independently. Maximum time picture will be displayed in the slide show varies from 8 to 86400 seconds; minimal – from 1 to 10 seconds. The rotation function allows the image to be turned on the screen, according to how you turn the frame. You can also select images on the memory card, which will be shown on the photo frame. And the rest of the images recorded on the media won’t be shown.
On the photo frame, you can view not only photos, but also videos, and in some cases even full-length movies. So before you buy, make sure that the photo frame plays required formats.
Straight from the photo frame, you can print photos by connecting directly to the printer via USB interface. Some models also allow using photo frame as a secondary monitor to your PC.
Some photo frames come with a built-in wireless/Bluetooth, which allows you to transfer data from your smartphone to the photo frame’s internal memory directly without using wires.
Usually best digital photo frames should support Wi-Fi – as a result they can be connected to your desktop computer, laptop, smartphone, printer, or connect to an existing Wi-Fi-network. This consequently opens up remote management option, hence you can work with your digital frame from other devices. There is also possibility to share photo via online services. For instance, you can sync with your Flick account. Or you can pick up your favorite RSS feed online.
Finally, as you can see, picking best digital photo frames can be sometimes a challenging task. In this article i provided you with most common questions and variations of frames that are currently on the market. Now you can either pick one of the top 2017 models that are suitable for you, or use gained knowledge to go and find digital frame that will work best for your needs.
In modern digital world, electronic picture frames can be an invaluable place for you memories, stylish part of an interier or great gift for loved ones. They keep constantly evolving, therefore it’s especially relevant to keep yourself up to date and know how to use them to full extent.