Today’s Digital Photo Frames Offer Connectivity, Versatility & Style

Today’s Digital Photo Frames Offer Connectivity, Versatility & Style

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Digital photo frames tap into the dynamic nature of digital imaging; they offer a convenient and satisfying way to display, store and share pictures. They can even add a fashion accent to home décor. It’s also worth mentioning that digital frames make great gifts for friends, family and business associates.

Deriving their physical form from the traditional, static framed photographs adorning the walls of grandma’s house, current Wi-Fi-enabled models take the picture frame concept to a new level.

They utilize Internet connectivity, storage media as well as social media to create a multifaceted visual interface. This enables consumers to create slideshows of pictures that are transferred from a smartphone or memory card, as well as loaded directly from the web. Moreover, they can change out the photos as often as they like. Digital photo frames with sound capability even let users watch videos on their handy mid-size screens.

Netgear-Meural-Canvas-II-w-photo
Netgear Meural Canvas II

Some have opined that the gen Z crowd and even some millennials see digital photo frames as passé; however, the market appears poised for a resurgence among all demographics. Indeed, some sales trend analysts have forecast a substantial increase in worldwide digital photo frame revenues for 2022, compared to the low point in 2017.

Could this expansive category become the latest example of retro cool? Only time will tell. For now, it’s a smart idea for retailers to stay well informed on what could be a significant revenue stream. We’ve picked a selection of frames from the scores of units currently on the market to provide a clearer picture of the latest features motivating consumers.

The Scoop on Digital Photo Frames

Digital photo frames are basically dedicated screens with framed borders that display images, slideshows, etc. They all rely on a standard complement of components.

These include an operating system, such as the pSOS used in personal digital assistants (PDAs); a CPU for downloading images from a website or server; controls for the unit (the bare minimum are an on/off switch and a screen brightness control); memory (typically ROM for the OS and flash for storing settings and images); and a modem, which enables the Wi-Fi that allows photos to be uploaded to the provider’s server or website and then downloaded onto the frame.

Aura-Carver-white
Aura Carver Frame

The frames themselves, which come in a wide ranging variety of size and finishes, are usually thin, lightweight and portable. They are also easy to position or hang.

Choosing the Right Digital Photo Frame

To make sure your customers pick the best frame for their needs, here are some of the characteristics and features worth considering.

Size Matters

Most frame screens fall into the 7- to 10-inch range measured diagonally. However, bigger ones measure 16 inches or larger. Moreover, the size of the frame sets limits on the aspect ratio and the visibility of the photos. All things considered, bigger is better. However smaller digital frames work quite well in smaller spaces and are more discreet.

Pick a User-Friendly Interface

In general, the easier the user interface the greater the satisfaction. Most screens provide buttons on the back that allow users to maneuver through the menus easily and save settings. Some pricier models offer touch-screen control at the front of the screen.

Simple plug-and-play frames with basic features often work better than full-featured ones for kids, seniors and technophobes. And if customers want to create the illusion of displaying a traditional photo frame, make sure they pick a model with a realistic frame look and concealed control buttons.

High Res Works Best

The resolution a digital frame can handle is crucial for crisply displayed, detailed images free of artifacts. A low-res 600×900-pixel frame can result in pixelated images lacking in clarity. Consequently, it’s better to select a high-res frame that handles resolutions of 1080p and higher.

Moreover, these frames not only display sharper, more satisfying pictures but they’re also easier to work with and to set up. While high-res frames cost more, they’re worth the difference. It’s always best to have customers test the quality of the display with their own images.

Aspect Ratios Make a Difference

The aspect ratio determines how shots taken with a particular digital format look on the screen and how much non-image space appears above and below the picture. The most common aspect ratios are 4:3, 16:9 and 3:2; further, the best compromise for a series of images in unspecified mixed formats is 4:3.

Generally, consumers will need to crop photos shot in the 16:9 aspect ratio to fit within a typical digital frame. However, many cameras offer in-camera cropping options that will match the images to a frame’s aspect ratio during capture, so consumers don’t have to crop them afterwards. Most cameras and many photo frames also provide portrait and landscape options.

Connectivity Rules

The connectivity of a digital frame has a significant effect on how consumers use it and how they source images. Many find connecting the frame to a PC via a USB port inconvenient; others don’t mind. Nevertheless, frames with Wi-Fi connectivity are today’s hot ticket because they make it so much easier to move images from one device to another.

They also enable consumers to share photos easily with others across different platforms. Simple frames with USB connections are okay for displaying set slideshows; they’re also less expensive than those with multi-platform Wi-Fi options.

Make a Fashion Statement

A well-made digital photo frame that looks good and complements home décor is always in style. Picking a frame that enhances a color scheme is quite easy today given the impressive range of choices. What’s more, a well-chosen unit can serve as the centerpiece of a room.

Go for Value

As with most things, the size, features as well as quality of a digital frame are usually commensurate with its price. It’s seldom a good idea to compromise on value. Furthermore, it’s almost always better to spend a little extra to obtain a unit that really showcases pictures, even if it lacks a few of the latest bells and whistles.

Savor the Irony

The ironic thing about digital photo frames is that having favorite images on more-or-less permanent display in a living space motivates folks to finally print out their best shots and hang them on the wall the old-fashioned way. Or they may dust off their shoeboxes and have their analog prints, negatives and slides scanned so they can show them off digitally.

Perhaps it’s not too surprising that a digital device with deep analog roots would have these unintended consequences. It sure is a gratifying paradox, and savvy dealers should do their best to encourage it.

A Medley of Digital Photo Frames

Pix-Star 15-inch Wi-Fi Cloud Frame

This top-rated, Pix-Star minimalist frame delivers high-res, big screen viewing of photos and videos at 1,024×768 pixels. It also has a flexible 4:3 aspect ratio. What’s more, users can connect 25 frames from a single free online account with free cloud storage for life. It’s easy and fast to set up via a 2.4GHz (but not 5GHz) Wi-Fi network. It offers 8GB of internal memory (which corresponds to about 30K images) as well as supports USB sticks and SDHC/SDXC cards. The frame also receives images via a dedicated e-mail address.

Pix-Star-15-inch
Pix-Star 15-inch Wi-Fi Cloud Frame

In addition, a built-in motion sensor automatically turns the screen on/off when someone enters or exits the room. Consumers can share images, videos as well as audio messages by downloading the free Pix-Star app on an iOS/Android smartphone. They can also remotely view and manage them using the Pix-Star website. Further, users can display their social media photos by accessing them online from Facebook, Instagram, Google Drive, etc. As a bonus, the frame receives weather forecasts from selected locations. In black, $199.99.

Aluratek Interchangeable 13.3-inch Frame

Aluratek offers digital photo frames with differing sizes, features and styles. This one is perfect for fashion-forward consumers. The attractive unit comes with a distressed wood frame that consumers can swapped out with the included mahogany or walnut frames to coordinate with décor.

Featuring a 13.3-inch LCD with a 16:9 aspect ratio, it displays images in high resolution at 1,920×1,080 pixels. It provides 8GB of built-in storage and a slot for SDHC cards up to 32GB. In addition, users can upload content from a computer or a hard drive connected via the frame’s Mini-USB 2.0 port. However, this model does not offer Wi-Fi or Bluetooth connectivity.

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Aluratek Interchangeable 13.3-inch Frame

It will automatically display photos as a slideshow; but users cannot configure it to play a variety of display and transition modes. Other features include integrated stereo speakers for music and audio/video; a built-in clock and calendar; a VESA mount; as well as a wall mountable design that works as a signage solution. $129.99.

Kodak RWF-108 10-inch Frame 

This attractive Wi-Fi-enabled Kodak unit has a pivoting wood textured stand. Its 10-inch IPS touch-screen display achieves 1,280×800-pixel resolution and a 16:10 aspect ratio. The frame has 16GB of internal memory storage, which is available via its USB port or by using its integrated SD/SDHC slot (up to 32GB cards). Moreover, users can upload content from the cloud or a smartphone using the free Kodak Photo Frame app. Also, 5GB of free cloud storage is included for two years.

Kodak-RWF-108-rosegold
Kodak RWF-108 10-inch Frame

Built-in speakers let consumers add music and narration to their slideshows, which they can configure with play and transition modes. Power is provided by an integrated rechargeable battery that enables five hours of viewing per charge. Moreover, IPC technology creates vivid colors and quick, seamless transitions between horizontal and vertical images and movies.

Other features comprise music playback modes; automatic brightness adjustment; a night mode clock; calendar options; weather report access; as well as an automatic on/off timer with alarm options. In rose gold or blue, $155.

Lenovo Smart Frame

This classically styled frame provides an impressive 21.5-inch anti-glare IPS LCD display with a 16:9 aspect ratio and 1,920×1,080 pixels. Consumers can hang it on a wall, place it on an easel or perch it on a shelf. Using its companion app that connects via Android, it syncs with Google Photos, Google Assistant as well as Amazon Alexa to provide voice navigation of albums. Users can also scroll through pictures by swiping, which activates the gesture sensor.

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Lenovo Smart Frame

Lenovo’s 15×24-inch digital canvas provides a brightness of 250 cd/m2 to deliver sharp images. The frame also connects via Wi-Fi 5 (802.11ac) and Bluetooth 5.0. Other features are 2GB of internal memory; dual 2W speakers; an 85º viewing angle; and an ambient light sensor. It comes with a wall mounting kit and DC adapter. The companion app also includes hundreds of famous paintings to display free of charge. In metallic gray, $399.99.

Loop Smart Frame

To connect families that live apart, this understated Loop Wi-Fi-enabled frame incorporates a convenient 10.1-inch ICP touch display. It has a respectable 1,280×800-pixel resolution; a 16:10 aspect ratio; and a brightness of 400 cd/m2 for a vibrant, detailed image.

Loop-Smart-Frame-and-side digital photo frames
Loop Smart Frame

Notably, consumers can text message photos to the frame when it’s connected via Wi-Fi.  Moreover, everyone can see the images and video via the free mobile app. The frame also lets users share content via Bluetooth and provides 16GB of internal memory.

Using its iOS/Android smartphone apps, users can also sync and stream from Google Photos, Apple Photos, Instagram, Facebook and Adobe Lightroom. Moreover, they can send pictures with just a tap. They can also organize family photos into separate channels, keeping everyone in the loop. In black, $179.

Nixplay Smart 10.1-inch Touch Frame

Wi-Fi-enabled for both iOS and Android devices using the free Nixplay app, this is a stylishly black matte finished 7.4×10.6×1.2-inch digital photo frame. It displays high-res images at 1,280×800 pixels on its 10.1-inch HD IPS touch screen in the 16:10 aspect ratio.

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Nixplay Smart 10.1-inch Touch Frame

Consumers can share photos and videos at up to 15 per sec. It also connects to Facebook, Instagram and Dropbox, as well as works with Amazon Alexa. This wall-mountable smart frame auto adjusts for portrait or landscape compositions and has a built-in motion sensor that turns it on and off automatically when someone enters or exits the room. Each time users connect to Google Photos, the frame is automatically updated thanks to its Wi-Fi connectivity. In black, white or wood, $209.99.

Aura Carver Frame

This 10.1-inch Aura classic, minimalist smart digital frame measures 10.6×7.5×2.6 inches. Its 10.1-inch screen delivers outstanding WUXGA 1,920×1,200-pixel resolution, among the best in its class. The cloud-connected digital frame is easy to set up and provides free unlimited storage. It also offers Wi-Fi connectivity via its included mobile app that works with iOS and Android devices.

Aura-Carver-white digital photo frames
Aura Carver Frame

What’s more, it automatically crops and positions photos on upload; presents landscapes in full screen; intelligently pairs related portraits and presents them side-by-side; matches the screen brightness to the ambient light; and turns itself off when the lights in the room are turned off. The frame uses Intelligent Photo Pairing software and Aura’s proprietary AI to group similar photos together. In charcoal or chalk white, $199.

Dragon Touch Classic 15

Featuring 15.6-inch Full HD touch-screen display, this Dragon model offers an impressive native resolution of 1,920×1,200 pixels for a crisp, vibrant image. The elegant 2.4GHz Wi-Fi-enabled digital frame includes a convenient remote control unit that lets users adjust settings as well as manage pictures and videos. However, with a quick tap of a finger, they can browse through photos, pause a slideshow and adjust display settings. The built-in speaker supports playback of photos, slideshows and small videos.

_Dragon-Touch-Classic-15-inch digital photo frames
Dragon Touch Classic 15

What’s more, 20 participating friends and family members can share their memories. They can do so wirelessly from a phone or computer via the OurPhoto app, cloud storage or e-mail. Bonus features include the ability to enjoy favorite music; set alarms; access weather forecasts; customize settings; and set slideshow mode, timing intervals, transition effects and automatic screen on/off. In black, $219.99.

Netgear Meural Canvas II

This digital art frame from Netgear comes in three sizes. The 16×24-inch model boasts a 21.5-inch anti-glare AHVA LCD and displays images with a 16:9 aspect ratio in Full HD 1,920×1,080-pixel resolution. Wi-Fi-enabled, it employs TruArt technology to deliver lifelike image quality for photos, art, crypto-art and video. It also includes 42 preloaded images and provides access to 100 fine art images from Meural’s library. An optional Meural full membership provides access to more than 30,000 images.

Netgear-Meural-Canvas-II-w-art digital photo frames
Netgear Meural Canvas II

Of course, consumers can also upload their own work via Meural’s website, using the free iOS/Android app or with an SD card. The Canvas II has 8GB of internal memory and its performance is enhanced with a 1.8 GHz ARM Cortex-A17 Quad-Core processor and 2GB of DDR3 RAM.

Furthermore, it can connect via its Micro-USB port, an Ethernet port and Wi-Fi 5. Sleekly styled, it comes with a wall mount and liquid level, wall anchors, a cleaning cloth and an 8-foot power cord. In black or white, $399.95; in wood, $499.95.

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