The best digital picture frames don’t just let you show off your favorite photos in stunning high resolution. The best digital photo frames also give you much more flexibility than a traditional frame, letting you run slideshows, play videos, and even use their built-in calendar and clock functionality.
If you’re anything like us, you’ll have hundreds of photos sitting on your smartphone, camera or a cloud storage service somewhere. A digital photo frame makes it easy to liberate your snaps, showcasing them on bright, colourful screens via a memory card slot, USB, Wi-Fi or cloud connectivity.
The best digital photo frames cost between $40 and $200 - the larger you go, and more extra features you choose, the higher the price. Make sure you choose the right aspect ratio: some digital picture frames come in a 16:9 or 16:10 ratio rather than 4:3, which is good for landscape photos but not always for portraits.
Also, consider the connection options: Wi-Fi is more expensive than a simple SD, micro SD or USB slot, but makes it incredibly quick to transfer your photos.
We tested a wide range of digital picture frames for over 50 hours. Here’s our pick of the best digital photo frames for all budgets…
1. NIX Advance: Best overall
The NIX Advance has the best picture quality of any digital photo frame we've tested. Our images were displayed in vibrant color, with no distracting blurriness. This device doesn’t offer any internal storage, but it does have both an SD card and USB slot. That means you don't have to connect it to a computer to download more images, which can be a real hassle. You can simply send an SD card loaded with new pictures in the mail to your parents, grandparents or friends, and all they’ll need to do is plug it in. This also makes it a great choice for anyone who isn’t super comfortable with technology as you don't have to do anything tricky for images to appear.
Bear in mind that this digital picture frame can't be hung on a wall: it's meant to stand on a table, desk or other flat surface. Our testers thought it was the sleekest-looking digital photo frame of any we tested. We were also happy to find that the included remote is small and straightforward to use, while the frame’s interface is super easy to navigate. You can select specific photos or view videos with just a couple of button clicks. We were able to upload videos taken from an Android cellphone without any problems. The sound quality was excellent and the video itself played beautifully. Just remember that the NIX Advance digital photo frame doesn't connect to Wi-Fi like some others do, so you won't be able to access Facebook or YouTube – but that's reflected in the price of this excellent digital picture frame.
- Read the review: NIX Advance
2. Aluratek ADMPF108F: Best value
The Aluratek ADMPF108F is an excellent cheaper digital picture frame for anyone on a budget. It only offers 512MB of internal storage – which isn’t much compared to other devices we tested – but it has USB and SD card slots, so you can add as much storage space as you want. Uploading images to this digital photo frame involves plugging the device into both a power source and a computer using a USB cable. We found this to be a little tricky as the power cord isn’t very long. However, if you’re simply using a memory card and USB slots, it will be easier to use.
Our testers said that this digital photo frame produced decent colors, but that the photos sometimes appeared dimmer than other frames. You wouldn’t notice this unless you were comparing two side by side, though. Otherwise, the images appeared clear with no pixelation. There's also hardly any reflection on the screen so you won’t have to worry about positioning it a certain way to avoid glare.
In addition to photos, we were able to upload videos and music files without any problems. The videos played well, with no pixelation, and the sound quality was good. The remote only has a few buttons on it and is intuitive to use, so you likely won’t get confused. We liked that there's a hole on the back of this digital picture frame, so you can choose to either hang it on your wall or prop it up on a table using the stand. Setup is super easy; all you need to do is attach the cord and plug the frame in. You don't get the bells and whistles of some other devices, but all-in-all this is one of the best digital photo frames you can buy at this price point.
- Read the review: Aluratek ADMPF108F
3. Nixplay Iris: Best wireless
The Nixplay Iris W08E is designed to look like a traditional photo frame. It comes in silver, burnished bronze or peach copper, so you can find a style that looks best in your home (although there's no hole on the back for hanging it on the wall – it's meant to be placed on a flat surface). The best part about this brilliant digital picture frame is its convenience. The Nixplay Iris uses Wi-Fi to receive your favorite photos. It has 8GB of internal storage, but since it doesn't have SD or USB slots, you can't add more storage space.
To use the Nixplay Iris, you’ll need to download the Nixplay app on your smartphone and create an account. Once that’s done, you can share your photos with any family members or friends who own an Iris. Simply take pictures, upload them to the Nixplay Cloud and select the Nixplay devices you want them to show on. Every Nixplay account has10GB of free cloud space and can connect with up to five frames. This way, Grandma doesn’t need to fiddle with the frame to get new images to appear. You can simply send new pictures whenever you want.
This digital photo frame doesn't come with a remote, since you control it with your smartphone. The power cord comes with interchangeable adapters so it can be used in both Europe and America. We found that the display quality was one of the best we tested, with images appearing clear and true to color. In fact, the only aspects that prevented the Nixplay Iris from being crowned the best digital photo frame was its high price – roughly $200 – and the fact that you can't play video. However, you can add photos to it from anywhere instead of toying with an SD card or USB, which makes this digital picture frame more attractive.
- Read the review: Nixplay Iris W08E
4. Pix-Star FotoConnect: Best advanced
The Pix-Star FotoConnect digital photo frame is one of the most advanced units we tested. It operates more like a tablet, in that you can access photo collections directly from Facebook, Instagram, Smugmug, Dropbox, Flickr and more. This digital picture frame uses Wi-Fi and has a dedicated email address that enables you to easily send images from your phone. Additionally, you can send images to others using the frame itself. It offers 8GB of internal storage and you can add more using the SD card slot or a USB stick.
Overall, we found the photo quality of the Pix-Star FotoConnect digital photo frame to be really good. However, our testers did notice that the corners of the screen sometimes displayed white at the edges of the pictures, which was distracting.
This photo frame is expensive, but that's because it offers a huge variety of internet connectivity options. Meanwhile, a motion sensor helps save energy by only turning the frame on when someone is in the room. And you can either mount it to the wall or use the detachable stand to set it up on a hard surface.
It also comes with a large remote that you can attach and store on the back of this quality digital picture frame to prevent losing it and save space. It's nice little touches like this that help make the Pix-Star FotoConnect one of the best digital picture frames you can buy.
- Read the review: Pix-Star FotoConnect
5. NIX Lux: Best image quality
From the moment we plugged the Nix Lux in, it became apparent that this digital photo frame offers the best picture quality and color accuracy of any we tested. It comes in 8-or 10-inch versions, with either a metal or textured faux wood facade.
We were surprised to find that the stand in the back doubles as a connecting cable for the power source. Plug one end of the cable into the wall, and the other into the end of stand. The cable/stand is made of a flexible material so you can bend it to hold your frame up in either a portrait or landscape position. Whenever we rotated the frame, the images rotated automatically to show them the right-side-up. There isn't a nail hole on the back though, so this frame can't be mounted to a wall.
The Nix Lux digital picture frame comes with a small, square-shaped remote control that was less complicated than most of the other ones we tested. The remote responded very quickly in our testing without any lag. The only problem we potentially see with this remote is that it’s so small it might be lost easily.
This digital photo frame doesn't have Wi-Fi, but it comes with an 8 GB USB so you can add images to it right away. There's also an SD card slot so you can hold even more images. Brand new, a Nix Lux digital picture frame costs $150, which is on the high end for non Wi-Fi digital photo frames, but isn’t surprising given the quality of the display.
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How to choose the best digital picture frame
Hopefully we've helped you decide which is the best digital picture frame to buy – but if you're still not sure, fear not: we can help. Here are some key considerations to think about, and the features and functionality you should look out for...
How Much Do Digital Photo Frames Cost?
Digital photo frames usually range between $40 and $200, with more expensive devices boasting larger screens – 10 inches or more – and Wi-Fi connectivity. The most expensive devices will give you additional internet options, and allow you to send and receive images using your smartphone.
Cheaper units tend to have little or no internal storage, so you might need to purchase an SD card or a USB thumb drive in addition to the frame. 16 GB SD cards are often as cheap as $16 and 16 GB USBs can be bought for as little as $6. These storage sizes are equipped to hold hundreds if not thousands of images.
If you’re on a budget, we recommend looking for a non-Wi-Fi device. The price goes up significantly when HD screens and internet come into play. Plus, devices that don’t use Wi-Fi might be easier for people to maintain, especially if they aren’t comfortable with technology.
What to Look for in a Digital Photo Frame
Ease of use: If you are purchasing a digital photo frame for anyone who isn't super comfortable with technology, you'll want to find an option that will be easy enough for them to use. Setting up a digital photo frame and then using it should be relatively simple tasks, and they generally are with the highest-quality models. Some allow you to play images directly from an inserted USB while others require you to upload images from your computer. Many digital photo frames include apps so you can easily send photos from your phone. Some frames, like the Nixplay Lux line, are even integrated with Amazon Alexa, which allows you to control your frames with Echo devices. If you’re purchasing one of these devices for someone who isn’t comfortable with technology, it might just be easier to upload images onto a USB or SD card for them so all they have to do is plug it into the frame instead of wrestling with a computer.
Many of the newer digital photo frames come with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth so you can upload images directly from your phone. Some models even come with simple video games and apps making them a little more tablet-like. It isn’t uncommon for them to even be equipped with a remote control, which can be quite helpful for anyone who has mobility issues or if the frame is displayed high on a wall where it's awkward to reach. The best digital photo frames should make it easy to add new photos.
Photo clarity: The very purpose of a digital photo frame is to constantly show pictures of people, places and things you love, so you naturally will want the sharpest, clearest images possible. Even lower-priced digital photo frames can offer impressive images if they are well designed. It's best to look for a frame with a high resolution, since this will provide the best photo display. Most smartphones and simple digital cameras have the ability to take pictures that have the perfect resolution for 5 x 7 photo frames. Even the images you can pull from social media sites like Facebook should be high enough resolution to look good on one of these screens so you shouldn't worry about needing an expensive camera.
Memory: These devices are perfectly suited for “everyone who wants to share their special moments with their loved ones, especially those who live far away from their families.” It can be delightful to watch the faces of your loved ones or beloved vacation spots on your digital photo frame, but you need the right amount of space to view your images.
With robust memory built into the device, you can store lots of images and other materials. Some devices have no built-in memory and instead include USB and SD card slots. With these frames, you can decide how many images display based on the size of the storage device you use. A 4GB to 8GB SD card or USB thumb drive is a good starting point for showing off a large number of photos. Images typically don’t take up much space, while videos and music files take up a bit more.
If you plan to store image files directly on your frame, you’ll likely run out of room pretty quickly. Most digital photo frames have buttons on the back that allow you to delete images, which is convenient in certain instances – for example, if your son breaks up with his girlfriend and you think it would be better if her face didn’t show up on the slideshow any more. However, the process of erasing photos differs from one device to the next. You must plug some frames into a computer to do so, while others let you select photos in the menu. If you solely use a USB drive or SD card, you need to plug it into a computer and erase the photos there.
Can you connect to the internet? For the most part, digital photo frames are pretty similar, with the biggest difference being whether or not they allow you to connect to the internet. Not all Wi-Fi frames are the same, however. Usually, the more expensive models resemble tablets, and let you access online games or allow you to pull images from Facebook and other social media sites. Some can even be used to play YouTube videos. The best part is most Wi-Fi frames come with an app you can use to send and delete photos remotely, without using a USB drive or SD card. This means you can send a group of new photos to Grandma’s digital photo frame, even if she is a few states away. Just make sure to set up Grandma’s device with her home Wi-Fi first. If she needs to make space for more photos, she can use her own phone or the physical buttons on the device to delete any of the images currently on the frame.
The Perfect Christmas Present
It can be hard to find the perfect gift for your parents, grandparents or other family members. Luckily, digital photo frames are thoughtful and easy gifts. With a digital frame, your loved one can see pictures of you and your family, even if they live in a different state. Start the gift off right by including either an SD card or small USB loaded with hundreds of carefully chosen photos. If you purchase a Wi-Fi enabled frame, connecting it to your loved one’s network is a must. This is a great gift to go in on with a family member. For instance, you and your siblings can purchase one together for your parents and pull together images from each person's family.
Why Not Just Buy a Tablet?
Tablets and digital frames are similar in size and shape, but they certainly differ in price and purpose. Clearly, tablets have more functionality, like the ability to play games, watch streaming services and surf the net. But keep in mind that most people purchase digital photo frames for their parents or grandparents. If Grandma is comfortable with a tablet or small computer, definitely go that route. She'll get plenty of use out of it. However, if you’re purchasing for someone who isn’t tech savvy, a tablet will be difficult to learn and frustrating to use. A digital photo frame is more straightforward and doesn’t include as many confusing features. Plus, they usually come with a remote, so Grandma can control it from a distance without needing to get fingerprints all over the screen. When it's time to update images, just send her a new USB or SD card. She can plug it in and have access to the most recent photos.
Skylight Frame: Touchscreen Digital Photo Frame
The Skylight Frame is one of the only digital frames with a touchscreen display – you adjust and swipe through settings by interacting with the screen's surface. Its 10-inch screen is the perfect size for showcasing family photos. The frame comes with a stand and is designed to sit on a flat surface, such as a desk or table, rather than be mounted to a wall.
At 1024 x 600 pixels, this frame has good resolution. It’s not as nice as an HD screen but shows your images off to their best advantage. The Skylight Frame also connects to Wi-Fi, and you can add more images by emailing them from your phone or computer. It has 8GB of space, which is enough room to hold thousands of photos.
This frame is on the expensive side because it includes internet uploading and a touchscreen. However, the company covers it with a 100-percent satisfaction guarantee, so you can feel more confident in your purchase.
Digital Smart Art Frames
Companies like Meural have found ways to broaden the scope of digital photo frames beyond sharing family photos. Many digital art frame companies let you pay for a monthly or annual subscription to access billions of art pieces you can display on the screen. This is also a great gift for artists who want to display their own work.
Meural's Canvas frames include swivel mounts that make them easy to hang. Also, the frames' motion activation feature lets you swipe through artwork and photos simply by waving your arm in front of them. We especially like that you can interact with the art on the frames to learn more about each specific piece – this info includes the artist’s name and the date of creation.
Meural’s frames are available in two types of wood and three finishes: black or white poplar and a walnut brown, all very chic. You adjust settings and displayed images using the accompanying app on your phone. Amazon Alexa also works with these frames, which makes them truly modern, smart devices.
Digital art frames are much larger and much more expensive than regular-size frames. In fact, some digital canvas companies require you get a quote. On average, expect to pay about $500 for the least expensive art frames, but prices can go higher than $1,000. EO1 makes a digital art frame you can either place on a shelf or mount to a wall, so you have a few displaying options.
Interactive Magic Mirrors & the World of Tomorrow
Even seemingly non-technical objects, such as pens, can access the internet these days. And whether it’s the device of a bright future or simply a physical manifestation of society’s dystopian destiny, magic mirrors are coming. In many ways, they are the digital photo frames of tomorrow. These smart mirror platforms allow you to access the weather, your calendar and photos, all while gazing at your reflection. Some, like the Loft Mirror, can even play videos.
Beauty and clothing companies are currently making smart mirror devices to help you apply makeup, get beauty and fashion suggestions, and make purchases. One such beauty mirror is the HiMirror Mini, a standing smart mirror with 16GB of storage that helps you keep track of your skin condition. There are also wall-mounted smart mirrors you can install in place of your bathroom vanity or on your living room walls.
Since these are relatively new inventions, their capabilities and features have not been standardized. As such, there is a variety of options on the market. However, their newness means smart mirrors haven’t saturated the market yet, so they are usually very expensive.
DIY Smart Mirror/Digital Photo Frame
If you’re comfortable with technology, you can make one of these devices using a Raspberry Pi 3, a monitor and a two-way glass mirror among other things. Just make sure you figure out how big you want the mirror to be before purchasing any monitors or glass. There are plenty of forums and online groups like Magic Mirror Central that specialize in building smart mirrors. Share ideas with other builders and get tips for how to spice up your own project. The Raspberry Pi 3 allows you to connect your creation to Wi-Fi. That way you can access news updates, weather widgets, your Google Calendar and the time. If you choose, you could make your mirror display family photos as its default. Some people are even making magic mirrors that respond to voice commands via Amazon Alexa and Google Home. As long as you have the idea and the drive, you can make the magic mirror of your dreams.
Why Trust Us?
After checking out the range of digital photo frames that are available and sought after by consumers, we ordered the top performers and most popular models for testing. We set them up side by side, showing the same photos in the same lighting to our four experts. Each tester has an understanding and appreciation for what constitutes a good photograph, and some have had formal photography composition training. To get better digital photo frame insights, we spoke with an employee at a local camera and printing service. We also contacted Beatrice Bisais, Social Media Manager of Nixplay, to ask questions about their products.
We spent over 50 hours researching digital photo frames and had four people test the devices. Each person examined the photo displays and gave ratings for clarity, color and overall aesthetic quality. We averaged those scores to obtain an overall quality score for each frame. We used photos from a mobile phone, images from an SD card, and vintage 1970s paper photos that had been scanned onto a thumb drive to see how well each electronic picture frame displayed each type of photo.
We also looked for such things as the amount of glare from the frame, the overall functionality of each frame, how easily photos can be accessed, and the amount of internal storage in frames that do not use Wi-Fi. We also evaluated how difficult it is to set up the frames right out of the box, how easy they were to use, how long you could display a photo slideshow, and the effectiveness of such things as remote controls, among other metrics.
How We Tested
Testing numerous pictures on nine digital photo frames was a visual treat. Our well-prepared testers all have worked in areas where they had to demonstrate a thorough knowledge of photography and overall image aesthetics. They not only issued numerical scores for various characteristics but also wrote comments and observations about each. The wording of our judges’ comments influenced, to some degree, the written reviews of each frame. The number grades, once averaged and scored, directly affected the ranking of the frames.
Each judge acted and evaluated independently using his or her own judgment and relying on their individual capabilities with a camera and their personal ideas of aesthetics.