Why Use a Digital Photo Frame?
The top performers in our review are the NIX Hu-Motion Frame, the Gold Award winner; Aluratek Digital Photo Frame, the Silver Award winner; and GiiNii Digital Picture Frame, the Bronze Award winner. Here’s more on choosing a unit to meet your needs, along with detail on how we arrived at our ranking of seven digital photo frames.
How to Choose a Digital Photo Frame
Everything is digital now, even memories, and not everyone is thrilled about it. Even though you can look at photos on your phone, your computer and television, you may still save some room in your life for more tangible mementos, and a digital photo frame is a great option. It is a nice middle ground between traditional photo displays and purely digital picture collections stored in your phone or computer. An electronic photo frame means you can display hundreds of your favorites without the clutter that comes with sharing a large collection of printed photos. It can also be a great way to share photos with a grandparent or anyone who may not see them on social media.
An electronic picture frame is the perfect gift for anyone who is not particularly interested in the latest gadgets. It is accessible technology – digital with a tangible twist. You also do not have to direct everyone to a phone or computer screen to see the latest pictures of the grandkids. They are already on display with minimal initial effort. It also makes a great wedding gift. Your recipients can collect all the images from the special event in one place. It could also become part of the wedding reception, displaying many of the photos the couple has collected. When you are ready to freshen up your photo gallery, you do not have to print and professionally frame everything after you edit photos to your liking. The mantel can be repopulated with hundreds of new photos at a time instead of a gradual rotation every few years.
Wireless digital photo frames that connect to the internet used to be a pricey and premium product. The ones that just play photos from physical storage like SD cards were the starter product. Now you can get a frame that does both well for a relatively low price, but there is still a place for the plug-and-play simplicity of a non-connected frame. We looked at smaller-sized frames that are still economical. Our review focuses on 8- to 10-inch digital photo frames, but you can also find smaller 7-inch digital photo frames. You can get much larger, more expensive versions of the frames we reviewed for a wider resolution or bigger picture. Large digital photo frames can be about 10 to 15 inches wide. For even more about these frames, take a look at our articles about digital photo frames.
Digital Photo Frames: How We Tested, What We Found
Our reviews revealed the best of the best digital picture frames as we lined them up in the same lighting and compared the quality of the picture we saw in each one. We tested each on the same set of photos and scored the frame based on how well it reproduced each one on its screen. We looked for clarity and a screen that cuts down on glare as much as possible so the photo is visible from multiple angles. We found decent photo reproduction on all of the frames, but some offer a little crisper image while others look somewhat grainy or have distorted colors. Our scores reflect that.
We also evaluated the picture on the screen when it was derived from different sources, whether a jump drive or the screen's internal memory. We used different types of photos too, including those taken on a cell phone, digital versions of old slides and a paper photo we scanned in. Our panel of testers included those with expertise in photography as well as those without.
We considered user-friendliness at every stage of our evaluation, recognizing that many people will value the ability to plug in the frame, attach a USB port and see great-looking photos almost instantly. Menus and remote controls should be very easy to navigate, even for someone who has never used a digital photo frame.
What Else to Consider
As we researched digital photo frames, the smallest amount of storage we encountered was 200 photos. If you were to try to print and frame 200 of your favorite photos, that would take a lot of your time and energy, not to mention space on your walls. Most frames in our comparison can store and display many more photos than that – thousands of photos in most cases. You just plug in a memory card and enjoy. Some manufacturers make digital photo frames that play music and videos, along with still images.
One drawback of these frames is their use of electricity. Although relatively small, an electronic frame is just one more device that can expand your power bill. Some frames cut consumption with motion sensors or sleep timers so that the frame is not exhibiting photos to an empty room at all hours of the day and night. You can also find battery operated digital photo frames if you don’t want to use your home’s power.
Since this is something that will become part of your décor, it is worth thinking a little bit about a digital picture frame's appearance. Everyone's styles differ and the range of electronic photo frame looks is not likely to accommodate all styles. There are really just a few types – some that feature plastic and look more like computer monitors, and others that have wooden designs, more like traditional photo frames. It can be difficult to find one that fits your specific tastes but you can zero in on the one that comes the closest. The quality of the photo display is the most important thing, of course, so you may be willing to get a frame that doesn't perfectly match your home's aesthetic if it is excellent in all of the important ways.
Our Verdict and Recommendations
After our battery of tests, we found the NIX Hu-Motion Frame, Aluratek Digital Photo Frame and GiiNii Digital Picture Frame to be the best digital photo frame for storing and displaying photos. All of the frames in our comparison allow you to share hundreds of digital photos in a frame on your wall or table. The top three did an especially good job of that, though, standing out in terms of photo reproduction excellence and convenience for the user.
The NIX Hu-Motion Frame got positive reviews from our experts for the quality of its display. It projects great colors and crisp photo quality, and this is one of only two frames that got perfect scores for ease of use.
The Aluratek Digital Photo Frame offers good quality photo reproductions that are true to color and clear, even if it's not as bright as some photo frames. The plug-and-play simplicity means you can insert memory cards or a jump drive and start enjoying photos.
The frame we tested from GiiNii offers a more traditional look and feel with its wood construction. The lack of a motion sensor could mean a little more energy use than is preferable, but you could always switch it off when you go to bed.
All of the frames in our lineup will help free your photos from the phones and hard drives where they hide without adding the clutter that comes with prints. The right digital photo frame can help you house all of your memories in one organized display.