Having any of the best digital photo frames in your home is a great way to show off your precious memories. The main advantage of digital frames is that you can cycle through pictures as you like, so you're not restricted to a single photo in a single place. Most of the best digital photo frames today have the capacity to store 1000s of images, and they're often connected to your WiFi network, so you can even display images from cloud storage or from social media networks.
The main downside to digital photo displays is that they're far more expensive than regular photo frames, and unless you get one with a great display, they may not be quite as sharp as a printed photo. That's why we look at value and the quality of the screen as the most important factor when assessing digital frames. While it's nice to have wireless connectivity, voice control, and other fancy features, it's important that the screen be clear, bright and crisp, and that you're not overpaying for the tech.
When you're shopping for digital photo frames, just keep in mind that some have internal storage, whereas others need some kind of SD card or external device to store your photos. There are advantages and disadvantages to both forms, but just be aware of what you're buying. If you'd rather use printed images, we have a guide to the best photo prints online. And if gifting is important, check out our list of the best photo books right now.
1. Aura Mason Frame: Best digital photo frame overall
The Aura Mason is not only a stylish physical frame, it also comes with one of the best displays we've seen in digital photo frames. It's a 1600x1200 display, which is a little higher than than full HD, and thanks to its 224dpi resolution your photos appear razer-sharp. It has a good color display too, which makes images stand out, and you can dim the screen using the light sensor so it suits most kind of lighting set-ups.
The lack of traditional digital photo frame features could be considered both good and bad. There are no slots for USB sticks or SD cards, so you can't transfer media using these methods... but you do get unlimited cloud storage for your photos, which are sent to the frame via an iOS or Android app from your phone. And while there is no touch-screen for easy navigation of pictures or accessing menus, the Aura Mason is Alexa compatible, allowing voice commands that the whole family can use.
It's stylish, easy to hang in either landscape or portrait, and because you don't have to touch the screen at any point, it should stay fingerprint free. Yes, it's quite expensive, but you're getting a gorgeous frame here, with a great display and the capacity for unlimited photos.
2. Nix Advance 8-inch Frame: Best value digital frame
If you're looking to save a little money, the Nix Advance is a great option. It's an 8-inch screen, which manages to display in 1024x768 high definition, and it manages to display decent - if not exceptional - images. It's an LED screen that displays in 4:3, so you're not getting wide images here, but they still look good when displayed in landscape.
There is a motion sensor that helps the frame save energy when no-one is in the room, which is a nice feature to have but not essential, and the frame comes with a remote to help you switch features and settings easily. You can add photos via a USB thumb drive or an SD card, and there's no internal storage to transfer files across, so you will need to spend a little more on this.
You can play video files too, although footage is limited to 720p, which isn't much lower resolution than the photo capacity of the frame. Overall, it's a decent budget frame with the basic features you need to look for in any photo display.
3. Facebook Portal
Facebook Portal is now well established as a 'stand alone' option for making voice and video calls. It also acts as a digital photo frame when you're not using it, and is one of the most versatile devices on this list. It comes with a neat HD touch screen, which you can easily use to access menus, options, and toggle between your photos. You can use Facebook's own voice commands, or - recommended - use Alexa, which is also built in.
We like the screen on here, and it's a good resolution. It makes video and photos look great, although isn't quite as sharp as the top pick on our list. There's no built-in storage, but you can add photos via a USB drive or an SD card. It's also integrated with your Instagram and Facebook accounts, so there's another source of photos to feed your frame.
The video calling feature is good, and we recommend using calls via WhatsApp. You can use filters to add flavor to your calls too, which is a nice touch, if not an essential feature. The downside? It's quite expensive, and you are inviting Facebook deeper into your home, which isn't for everyone.
4. Pix-Star WiFi Cloud Photo Frame: Best for features
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 WiFi 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 display quality of the Pix-Star digital photo frame to be really good, and that's all down to the IPS screen. 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.
5. Aluratek 8-inch digital frame: An ultra-budget pick
The Aluratek 8-inch frame is a no-frills digital photo frame designed to get your pictures on display for as low a cost as possible. It has an 800x600 resolution display, which is fine for showing off photos from your vacation or that you've snapped on a phone or low-end camera. If you're looking to showcase photography, or display professionally created pictures, you probably want a better screen here.
There's no WiFi connection, so you can't display images from cloud-based services or social media. What you can do is plug in a USB drive or an SD card (up to 32GB) and show pictures from these devices. While the lack of features may be a deterrent for some, the simplicity this brings is likely a feature for many others. And it does help cut the cost significantly.
You can display the Aluratek frame in either landscape or portrait mode, and it can cycle through your images as a slideshow, if you want that. Overall, it's a good pick if you want something cheap and simple.
6. MRQ Digital Photo Frame: Best wide-angle frame
If you need a full HD, widescreen digital photo frame (and you don't want to pay the earth for it), the MRQ 14-inch frame is perfect for you. Its IPS screen is clear, wide, and allows you to play video at full HD resolution. What's more, it fits to the edges of the frame nicely, so you're not losing a load of space to the bezel - perfect if you're looking for a digital display that really focuses on the image.
While it doesn't have connectivity features, and therefore can't display photos from social media accounts or cloud drives, it does support USB and SD cards up to 32GB, so you'll get loads of images on there. If you want to display video, the smaller capacity for SD cards does become a slight issue.
There is a remote, a motion sensor for energy saving, and the standard option to cycle through images as a slideshow. It will display in landscape or portrait, sure, but a frame like this is primarily built to be a landscape display.
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 WiFi 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. 16GB SD cards are often as cheap as $16 and 16GB 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-WiFi device. The price goes up significantly when HD screens and internet come into play. Plus, devices that don’t use WiFi 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, 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 WiFi 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.
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.
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.