Zoe Phillimore on digital photo frames to display your snaps
Around 2.3 billion photos are taken daily and we are still keen on displaying them for prosperity. Well, maybe not the screengrabs of recipes and never-ending selfies, but good photos? We want them in pride of place in our home. Up to 89 per cent of millennials said they print their photos. But there is another, fuss-free way to display them, and it’s in the form of a digital
photo frame. These devices display your photo on a screen, which looks like a photo frame, and can flick through chosen images slowly – meaning you get to display hundreds if not thousands of your favourite photos.
Some digital photo frames provide even more functionality. There’s Amazon’s Echo Show range, and Google’s Hubs, which are voice assistants, entertainment systems and smart-home devices too. And then when they’re not actively being used, they display your photo selection like a regular frame. Aside from aesthetics though, there’s much to consider when buying a digital photo frame. For a start, you might want to think about data storage. Some frames store photos locally – you plug in a USB stick, say – while others will store your photos on a cloud – meaning you upload photos via an app. There are pros and cons to both, of course so you’ll need to figure out which method is best for you.
Other than that, look for a high-resolution screen and a decent screen size. Resolution basically tells you how sharp an image is going to be. This should help your photos stand out even in a dark room. A backlit screen will also help with that. But we’d also give some thought to energy – some frames can run on timers, or activate when it senses people close by, and some will switch off when it senses no light to save electricity.
How we tested
When testing digital photo frames we looked for ease of use as a number one priority, along with decent screen quality and aesthetics. While we were just testing digital frames, we do acknowledge having a multi-use screen is handy so we factored that in too. We spent well over a month trailing photo frames in our house to find ones worthy of a place in yours. Here are the ones that were picture-perfect.
Aura carver smart HD digital picture frame: £129, Aura Frames
We were wowed by how easy this frame was to set up. In fact, if you’re giving it as a gift you can even pre-load it with images for maximum thoughtful points. Everything is done through Aura’s super sleek app, which lets you see what’s being displayed, all of the photos uploaded and also you can add photos remotely.
This is especially lovely for those with loved ones far away, as more than one person can access the frame’s app and then upload photos to their heart’s content. After testing, we gifted this frame to our parents, who have family living on the other side of the world, and it brought so much joy to them to see their far-away family pop up on a screen in their living room. The screen quality is incredible, with eye-popping detail. The screen also initiatively pairs portrait photos together to appear side by side, and this feature is extremely intelligent.
Hyjoy digital picture frame: £71.99, Amazon
We were impressed by the resolution on this mid-priced frame. It brought our pictures to life beautifully, and everything looked pin sharp on the touchscreen display. Uploading images is done via an app, which compresses your photos and then, as we understand it, diverts them back to your 8GB local memory. If you’re a real stickler for sharp images and feel your image quality is of paramount importance, you might find this compression affects your photos but hand on heart, we didn’t notice (and we consider ourselves quite fussy).
You can even issue friends and family with a code, which lets them upload photos remotely too (if they download the app). The app also lets you add captions to your photos, displays the time and weather in the corner too. As you can have this portrait or landscape, it’s a good flexible choice. The frame will autorotate any photos that are in the other orientation.
Amazon Echo show 15 smart display: £269.99, Amazon
The granddaddy of photo frames, this is actually so much more than that. And we have fallen hook, line and sinker for it. You can mount it on the wall in either portrait or landscape orientations, or have it in a stand (sold separately). It’s big – hence our calling it the “granddaddy” – but interestingly the resolution isn’t as impressive as some of the others on this roundup. However, set-up is a total breeze via the Alexa app and you can then upload photos via the app onto the screen.
What really blew us away with this frame though, is how quickly it integrated into our lives and enhanced it. As well as displaying our photos, we customised our home screen with Alexa’s “widgets” to display a post-it note, an optimistic to-do list, the weather, our calendar, our Spotify playlist and our shopping list. It’s big enough that you can clearly see everything from across the room.
We also use it to play our music, listen to the radio and control our smart home. You can sync it with some home security cameras and video doorbells too, to check up on what’s going on across your house. Basically, we’d be lost without it – and everyone admires it who visits our home.
Nixplay 10-inch touch screen photo frame, classic mat: £89.99, Nixplay
This is a great frame if you’re quite scattered in your photo storage. As well as offering 8MB onboard memory, you have unlimited space on Nixplay’s encrypted cloud via its app. You can also pull them from Facebook, Insta, Google Drive and email. And even if you have a super-streamlined photosystem, the Nixplay is a great option.
The app allows friends and family to beam their photos to your frame, which we enjoyed a lot. There’s also AI in the frame that senses where people’s faces are in the photo and tries to centre the face in the frame as best it can. If you take lots of arty, offcentre shots this might not be ideal but it’s great for family snaps. This frame also senses when no one is around and switches off, coming to life again when it senses movement, saving your electricity bill a tad.
Aura mason luxe smart digital picture frame: £249, Aura Frames
Aura claims this frame is “best in class” for screen resolution, and when you look at those figures we can’t argue. The 2K resolution is so sharp it feels like you can reach into the photo. And the backlit feature helps with this too – all the colours look almost iridescent. Plus, the chunky frame is modern and looks really nice on our shelves – like a standard photo frame rather than a bit of tech.
Set up is easy with Aura’s easy-to-use app, and we were able to quickly ping photos into the frame. Aura even provides everyone with unlimited storage on its secure server, though you can also use the app to adjust the slideshow speed, and shuffle the order of photos. Amazingly this frame also has a built-in speaker so you can hear audio on any videos you upload. If you really love your photos, or have some seriously good photos to display, this frame is going to do you proud.
Google Nest hub max: £219, Google
The Google Nest hub max is wildly easy to set up. The touchscreen interacts with a Google Home app on your phone, guiding you through the process without you really needing to do much. Having said that, we found getting it to display photos a bit of a head-scratcher at first...
Firstly you need to ensure you have some photo albums set up in the Google Photos app, then you let Google Home know which of those albums to display on your screen. Once this is done, it sends the photos to be the background on your Google Nest hub max screen. Got it?
The screen itself is HD and is capable of true-to-life colours and our images looked pin sharp. We were very impressed. This screen also offers voice assistance, you can watch Netflix and YouTube on it, control your smart home and more. You might enjoy that the screen also recognises your face, and displays things it thinks you’ll be interested in – creepy or amazing? You decide.
If you’re already integrated into the Google ecosystem, this will fit neatly into your life and make the most of the services you’re already using.
Amazon Echo show 10: £259.99, Amazon
The unique selling point of this show is that it follows you around the room. The screen tracks you as you move, and spins on its base so you always get a good view. We placed ours on the kitchen island, and liked that, no matter where we moved around in our kitchen, we could still see the screen. It will display a selection of your photos, which you nominate via the Alex app, on your home screen – but it does have the tendency to add recipes and news alerts into the mix too. Fine if you don’t mind that, but if you only want photos we struggled to work out how to stop the other stuff pinging up.
When images were displayed, they looked decent on the screen. The colours were perhaps not as vibrant as others we’d tested, but it still delivered that “aww” feeling as they popped up. As well as photos, yes, you can pull up recipes, Netflix, listen to the radio (the speakers are excellent) and, of course, watch Amazon Prime Video. We got very attached to this screen during testing, and think it’s perfect for busy families who need a Swiss army knife of a screen.
Nixplay 10.1-inch touch screen photo frame: £107.99, Nixplay
Nixplay has tweaked its 10in-screen with this version. The difference is this one has modifications to improve its video display. You can upload 5GB of videos to the cloud and have them play on your frame – with improved sound thanks to the upgraded speakers in this frame. In a world of TikTokkers and YouTubers, where video is king, this is a great option. That’s why we’ve declared it best for Gen Z.
Even if you think you’re a touch too old for TikTok (you’re really not though, give it a whirl!), then this is still a great frame packed with some high-spec features. You can pull in photos from Google Photos as well as social media and your phone’s camera roll via the app. You can also have friends and family add their photos and videos too. The Nixplay was easy to set up and has a screen capable of sharp pictures and eye-popping colour.
Aeezo wifi digital picture frame: £109.99, Amazon
This touchscreen display is so easy to set up – the screen does all the work for you, connecting the frame to your wifi via an app on your phone. You can also invite friends and family to send their photos using a code the screen gives you. The HD screen means clear, crisp images (depending on your photography skills) with every detail shown.
The frame itself is perhaps not as high-spec as others in this round-up and doesn’t exude style, but it’s still good enough quality to make the cut. As well as an impressive 16GB of internal memory (that’s going to give you around 40,000 photos), you can boost that using an SD card, which you can plug into a dedicated slot on the frame.
Amazon Echo show 8: £119.99, Amazon
The Show 8 is Amazon’s smallest digital display, which makes it a great option if you’re limited on space or don’t want a huge litup screen dominating your room. Ideal for a bedside table, we’d say. As with all Echoes, it’s easy to set up via the Alexa app and we were quickly sorted, sending photos to the screen.
The screen is landscape, and the majority of our photos are phone-snapped portrait orientation, but the Show flips them around so it wasn’t too much of an issue but is still something to bear in mind. The resolution competes well against any other on this round-up, and it has loads of other features too: Netflix, Ring, Spotify, BBC Good Food – the list goes on. It will even tell you a bedtime story via Audible.
Aura has nailed it for the third year in a row – this brand makes incredible digital photo frames. Our photos seemed to come to life when displayed in Aura’s carver smart HD digital picture frame, and we loved that it paired complementary photos together (you can switch this off if you find it invasive). If you’re
looking for something that’s not just a straight-up photo frame, then the Amazon Echo show 10 offers a huge range of functions.
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