Nothing beats showing and sharing your photos on a digital photo frame – and they make a perfect present
The biggest complaint some people have about digital photos is that you never get to see them. Some make it to a photo printer, others to a sharing site or social media feed, but many end up sitting on a cloud storage service or a hard drive, unappreciated and never seen.
Digital photo frames have fallen out of popularity, but they’re a great way to bring your shots out of storage and into the home. What’s more, the best models are a vast improvement on the dull, awkward to use early frames of a decade ago.
With brighter screens, smarter power-saving features, better interfaces, and even Wi-Fi and cloud connectivity, so you can publish photos direct from a PC or smartphone to your frame.
Get a digital photo frame, and you can put those holiday and family photos you never see back on the mantelpiece – where they belong!
1. Kenuo Digital Photo Frame 8-inch: The best of the low-budget photo frames
Although the brand might not be familiar, the same frame can be found from many resellers, with all running the same software with the same full HD screen.
The user interface is a bit on the raw side, while the rear-mounted controls could be easier to use, though at least a small remote is bundled. All that aside, this isn’t bad for such a cheap frame.
The 1080p IPS panel gets bright enough for all but the most sunlit mantelpiece, and shots look more detailed than on some of the older, low-resolution budget frames.
Slide shows have some nice multi-window effects, and it has an auto-rotate function that actually works most of the time.
What’s more, it’ll happily read stills in JPEG, PNG, and TIFF formats from an SD card or USB memory stick, or MKV, MOV, and MP4 video files (but don’t expect much from the built-in speakers).
This frame isn’t as slick or feature-packed as the more expensive options, but if you want a cheap way to show and share your photos in style, this one does the job.
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- Resolution: 1,920 x 1080
- Screen technology: IPS
- Storage: none
- Connections: SD card, micro-USB, USB 2
- Features: MP3, AAC, WMA audio playback, AVI, MP4, MOV, MKV video playback, remote control
- Dimensions: 197 x 20 x 135mm
2. Nixplay Advance 10in: The best 10in digital photo frame for under $100
The Nixplay Advance range goes all the way from 8 to 18.5in models. Still, the 10in version is a particularly brilliant value, giving you a 4:3 ratio IPS display with a 1,024 x 768 resolution.
It’s a simple, well-built frame, standing on a bulging section at the rear where the power, USB, and SD card sockets sit, along with a headphone/audio line out.
The latter might be useful because the Advance’s party piece is 720p MPEG-4 video playback. It’s complete with tinny sound from the built-in speakers, and you can cleverly mix video and stills within the same slideshow.
While it hasn’t got the wireless connectivity or cloud capabilities of Nixplay’s pricier Seed series, the clean interface makes it easy to set up slideshows once you’ve transferred your shots to the bundled 8GB USB thumb drive.
There’s even a nice clock and calendar function if you’d like both overlaid.
Most importantly, the Advance makes your photos look good, with natural colors, impressive depth of tone, and cool transitions. If you’re just after a great way to present your favorite shots, this is the frame to buy.
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- Resolution: 1,024 x 768
- Screen technology: IPS
- Storage: Bundled 8GB USB drive
- Connections: SD card, USB 2, micro-USB
- Features: MP4/AVI video playback, motion sensor, time and calendar function, remote control
- Dimensions: 245 x 33 x 300mm
4. Nixplay Iris: The best traditional-style digital frame
If you want a showcase for your digital photos but prefer the look of a more traditional frame, the Nixplay Iris has you covered.
It looks like an old-school frame from the front but has the innards of the Nixplay Seed, available in bronze, silver, and copper finishes.
It gives you the same impressive image quality and natural colors plus identical wireless features for transferring photos.
You can still sync the frame with your social media and cloud accounts to make sure you have your latest shots on full display, and Nixplay even throws in 10GB of cloud storage space for you to use.
Meanwhile, the sound sensor turns the frame off when nobody’s in the room. Otherwise, those with Alexa devices can turn it on and off with voice.
You’re paying 10 to 12in prices for a smallish 8in screen, but this is the best high-tech frame that doesn’t look high-tech. And if you like the looks but not the cloud connectivity, check out the cheaper Nixplay Lux.
It gives you a similar style without the wireless features at a lower cost.
- Resolution: 1,024 x 768
- Screen technology: IPS
- Storage: 8GB internal
- Connections: 802.11n Wi-Fi, USB 3
- Features: Motion sensor, clock function, remote control
- Dimensions: 236 x 23 x 190mm
5. Google Nest Hub: The best smart display for showing photos
Now rebranded as the Nest Hub, Google’s smart display can do a lot more than a photo frame, for less than you’ll pay for most.
It has a 7in 1,024 x 600 screen with rich and accurate colors and a superb automatic brightness control that makes your shots look like prints in a standard frame.
It works in tandem with Google’s existing Photos app and storage service. And, as it’s smart, you can just ask to see photos from your recent holiday in Cornwall or your trip to Scotland, and the Nest Hub will put them on show.
You also get YouTube Video playback, Google Music and Spotify music, and all the benefits of the Google Assistant answering questions, telling you the temperature, and letting you know what you’ve got scheduled for the day.
The screen size is a limitation, but when you throw in half-decent sound and a growing selection of smart home control features, the Home Hub makes many standard photo frames look, well, dumb.
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- Resolution: 1,024 x 600
- Screen technology: IPS
- Storage: Not specified
- Connections: 802.11ac Wi-Fi
- Features: Adaptive screen brightness, full-range speaker, Google Assistant, Google Photos, Google Music, YouTube, Spotify, Google Play Movies, smart home camera, and thermostat controls
- Dimensions: 179 x 67 x 118mm
6. Tenswall 10in Digital Photo Frame: A bigger frame on a budget
There are dozens of budget photo frames selling at around the $50 mark, but the Tenswall 10in is a cut above. Sure, the design is basic, and there’s nothing luxurious about the plastics. And any networking or cloud features are entirely off the menu.
The Tenswall has relatively small bezels free of unsightly logos, and the bundled remote and straightforward software makes it easy to control.
You can set slideshows to display your favorite shots for anywhere between three seconds and an hour at a time, complete with a choice of transitions.
You can also listen to music and watch videos in a wide range of formats. The sound, while thin, isn’t totally unlistenable. Claiming it’s also an ebook reader is a bit of a stretch, though, particularly as it only supports the most basic text files.
The best reason to get this frame is that its image quality is excellent for the price. It’ll read photos from an SD card or USB (although only cards and drives of up to 32GB are supported), and the 1,280 x 800 IPS screen is bright, with decent levels of contrast and punchy colors.
Nixplay’s frames give you more natural-looking images if you have the budget. Still, this is a good, highly affordable way to show and share your snaps.
- Resolution: 1,280 x 800
- Screen technology: IPS
- Storage: None
- Connections: SD card, USB 2, headphone out
- Features: Clock and calendar functions, video player, ebook reader, remote control
- Dimensions: 255 x 165 x 30mm
How to buy the Best Digital Photo Frame for You
Traditionally, the best digital photo frame only allowed you to simply plug in an SD card or USB memory card of your favorite snaps and then snap away.
However, nowadays, there’s a huge revival, as these devices have now become a very good addition to your contemporary, smart home setup. Gone are the days when we had to settle for an ordinary, boring digital picture frame with an old-fashioned LCD panel. Now, you can get wall mountable digital picture frames that can turn your home into a studio – all you need is an imagination.
It’s common nowadays that almost every single household will have at least one digital photo frame, which means that you can get a new look for your walls at absolutely no extra cost.
There are many attractive styles and designs available today, and even if yours doesn’t have any themes, you can always go in for a nice theme or decor. For example, you can go in for a classic and elegant look or go in for an ultra-modern look that will really make your family members’ hearts race! You can also select a high-resolution model, which will allow you to easily upload photos to your digital photo frame easily – definitely a good way of keeping all those precious memories in one place.
This can be really useful for people who keep misplacing their old photos but don’t want to keep those old photos in their home – because if they get lost, you wouldn’t want to get heartbroken just because your favorite photos got lost. In the past! Another great thing about these photo frames is that they can be used as canvases for photos instead of just being used for keeping pictures.
If you love to make scrapbooking, then having these photo frames around is definitely a great idea since it would allow you to put up your favorite pictures without much hassle. The best digital photo frame will also allow you to edit your photos and create different themes so that it is possible for you to change the look of your walls at any time.
How much do you want to spend? And how big a frame do you want?
Choosing a digital photo frame is relatively easy: work out your budget, then decide what size you need and whether you’re willing to pay for extra features or Wi-Fi connectivity.
What’s more, the best frames tend to come in a range of sizes, usually starting in the 7in to 8in range and moving up to 10in and beyond, with some models going as big as 18in.
Whether you’re looking for something to place on a shelf or something to hang on the wall, you’ll have a few options.
Just be aware that not all frames have a traditional 4:3 aspect ratio, with some smaller frames opting for a 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio, which is great for landscape shots but not necessarily so good for portraits.
Will my photos look good on any digital photo frame?
You need to think about screen technology and resolution. Some models use the kind of Twisted Nematic LCD screen technology found in budget tablets, laptops, and monitors, often resulting in low levels of brightness and contrast and narrow viewing angles.
Not ideal for something you’ll rarely look at precisely head-on.
Others have moved to IPS technology, giving you much wider viewing angles and a brighter, more colorful image.
More saturated colors isn’t necessarily a good thing. Some frames exhibit the kind of brash, unnatural color balance you’d normally find on a bargain-basement tv. But, ideally, you want something with a little punch.
As far as resolution goes, you could be disappointed. Digital photo frames lag behind tablets and phones when it comes to pixel density. It’s not unusual to find 1,024 x 600 or 1,024 x 768 resolution screens, even on the larger models.
However, this is changing, and we’re starting to see full HD 1080p and even higher resolution panels creeping in. This doesn’t make a huge difference when you’re looking at a 10in display from several feet away, but it means you can see more detail when you get in closer.
How do you get your photos onto it?
This is the next big differentiator. Some have internal memory, and you transfer photos over a USB connection. Most now have an SD or microSD card slot and read photos directly from the card. Others have a USB port for plugging in a USB memory key.
However, a growing number now have built-in Wi-Fi, connecting to your home network or a cloud-based service, where you work through a web-based interface to upload files.
The great thing about this is that you can transfer files from your PC or your smartphone, not to mention popular picture-sharing or social networking services. You can even send photos to your frame while you’re away on your holidays.
These models are adding social features, enabling you to send photos through to friends or relatives while you’re traveling or just making the most of life.
Is there anything else you should look out for?
Many frames have additional features, including clocks, calendars, and video and audio playback.
Most recent models also have motion-sensing and other power-saving features, so the frame doesn’t use energy when there’s nobody to see it. It’s hard to find a frame without slideshow features, and the more flexible these are, the better.
A clear user interface is helpful here, making it easy to get photos on the device, add them to playlists and control how they look.
How much do I need to spend?
Frames start at under $50, with the larger 15in and cloud-enabled models reaching prices between $150 and $250.
Inevitably, you’ll pay for size and extra features, but you can get a great frame for well under £100, as long as you’re prepared to compromise on one of those two.
What about the new smart displays?
Amazon, Google, and Lenovo are all promoting new smart displays that play music, control smart home appliances and answer questions, much like their smart speaker cousins.
The difference is that these displays can show you answers, web pages, and videos – and also double up as a digital photo frame.
Amazon’s Echo Show devices can play a photo slideshow from the Amazon Photos cloud photo-storage service.
In contrast, Google’s Home Hub can play photos direct from Google Photos, which is where your shots tend to end up automatically if you use an Android phone.
For this reason, they make excellent digital photo frames. Although, you’ll pay a fair bit more for them than for a standalone frame.
Last update on 2021-03-13 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API