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Trying to stay connected with family and friends in the age of coronavirus isn’t easy. Stay-at-home orders around the world are forcing families to remain separated and eliminating hangout time with friends.
Luckily, the 21st century offers a plethora of technologies and services for staying in touch while self-quarantining. People around the globe are quickly adapting with virtual happy hour, FaceTime calls with grandparents and Zoom birthday parties. But with COVID-19 measures in place for at least another few weeks (if not months), it might be time to get more serious about staying in touch — and about how we share our day-to-day lives with one another. Digital photo frames offer a great way to do just that.
What Are the Best Digital Picture Frames?
The best digital photo frames are fairly simple: they’re a screen disguised as a photo frame. These frames let you change the image as often as you like, set up a slideshow and even exhibit shared photos sent by loved ones. While we’re stuck at home, this offers a great way to enjoy up-to-date pictures of relatives and friends – no matter how far apart you are.
If, say, your parents live far away, you can connect to their digital frame and immediately upload new pictures of you and your kids to your parents’ frame for them to see. Want to send a virtual birthday card? Send it to your friend’s digital picture frame, so he or she gets it delivered without either of you having to go to the mailbox.
These high-tech frames are also great for displaying digital art in addition to photos. Whether you have a new favorite movie or you found a painting in a museum, you can immediately put up an image in your home with one of these digital frames – no need to hang another poster.
What You Need to Know Before Buying a Digital Frame
Before getting a new digital frame, there are a few key factors to consider. We chose a handful of the best-equipped frames, but you’ll want to pick one that’s best suited to your needs.
Photo Sharing Functionality: How you get photos is the specification that varies the most with digital frames, and subsequently the most important feature to consider. Some frames have an assortment of options for choosing photos, such as connectivity to major photo sharing sites like Facebook, Instagram and Dropbox. Others are more simple with a unique email address that you send images to, and then the images instantly pop up on the screen. If you’re buying a digital frame for less tech-savvy elders, for example, you’ll probably want a less complicated interface.
Display Quality: As with any screen in your device arsenal, the display quality of a digital frame is important. All of our picks have high-quality screens, but some of the more pricey options have screens with full HD or even 2K quality. Which quality you pick depends on how much you (or the frame’s user) care about image quality and where the frame will be displayed. If it’s on a mantle, people might not get as close to the frame as they will in a hallway of family photos.
Size: Digital frame display sizes mostly hover around 10 inches, but you can find options as big as 15 inches. Obviously, the larger the screen, the more expensive. If you plan on putting your frame in a bigger room, consider a bigger frame size.
1. Nixplay Smart Digital Picture Frame
Nixplay is the best-selling digital frame in the States thanks to a range of models for every preference and a dedicated companion app for wide-ranging connectivity. All Nixplay frames connect to your email, social media accounts and cloud services in addition to Nixplay’s remote app (although there is also a physical remote included).
This surplus of photo options is great for people with media that’s spread out over different accounts. But it does have a drawback. Less tech-savvy people (such as grandparents) will likely have a tricky time learning to use the frame’s many features.
Nixplay also has strength in numbers when it comes to model options. You can choose from six different frames that vary in material (wood, metal finish or black) as well as pixel count and size. At the top of Nixplay’s line is their 2K display, which takes the gold medal for the highest quality display on our list.
2. Nest Hub Max with Google Assistant
This device comes from Nest, one of the original smart home brands. Unlike the other options on our list, photo display is just one of the device’s many functions.
The Nest Hub works as a command center for smart home gadgets, allowing you to control any smart thermostats, lights, Chromecasts or Google Home devices. It also boasts a few tablet-like functions such as video calling with a 6.5-megapixel camera as well as streaming from Netflix, HBO NOW, Hulu and more.
The Nest Hub comes in two sizes, but this larger 10-inch Max version is best for use as a digital frame. Because the Nest is integrated with your Google account, any uploaded photos will automatically appear as part of your slideshow.
Then there’s the kicker: voice control with Google Assistant. This is the only digital frame on our list that can be controlled almost entirely with simple voice commands that are picked up by Google’s advanced A.I. assistant.
3. Pix-Star Digital Picture Frame
Pix-Star is another digital frame company with a product worth considering. In terms of bang-for-your-buck, Pix-Star does very well with a 10-inch display for $155 or an impressive 15-inch display for $200. And unlike many digital frames, the Pix-Star is wireless.
But the best thing about Pix-Star’s frames is their varied photo sharing features. They come with a unique email address for simple send-and-display functionality, but they can also connect to social media accounts or the Pix-Star app for more options. This means everyone should be able to partake in sharing photos (in one way or another) without any tech barriers.
However, Pix-Star’s low price tags do come with a couple downsides. Firstly, the device can’t be easily mounted on the wall, but it does come with an easy kickstand for placement on the counter, shelf or mantle. The Pix-Star also suffers a bit in terms of looks with a slightly more techy design.
4. Skylight Frame
At a glance, you might never guess that this Skylight frame is a digital device. The sleek design and high-resolution 1280 x 800 display help the stylish frame blend in on any photo-packed shelf or mantle.
The Skylight has one of the easiest interfaces around, making it ideal for the elderly. Just email photos to the frame and then use the touchscreen to browse, select pictures and create slideshows. This frame also doesn’t need 24/7 WiFi connectivity, so it’ll work just fine in households with spotty or inconsistent WiFi.
Obviously, this limited email-only option can be restrictive if you’re used to more options, or have images spread out in various places. It also means you don’t get any handy added features such as weather reports or smart home connectivity.
Skylight’s frame also has a cute heart function that lets you “love” a photo by tapping a heart icon in the corner. The Skylight will then automatically send an email to whoever sent you that photo to let them know you like it.
5. Aura Digital Picture Frame
Aura is another key player in the digital frame world. They make high-quality devices that look just like a typical picture frame but offer a top-of-the-line display, fairly easy connectivity and even Alexa compatibility.
The Aura frame works via a companion app that connects to your digital library. The app boasts unlimited cloud storage for endless photos and sends pictures to any frame in your Aura network. This means you can have a few frames around the house, or send images to family and friends on the same Aura network in different households for a shared library.
As with Skylight frame above, this companion app functionality may be a little restrictive for some, but great for non-tech aficionados.
Style is really where Aura does well with a chic design and premium materials that upgrade (instead of hinder) your home’s feel. This attractive design is matched with an ultra-high-resolution 2K screen (2048 x 1536 pixels), ensuring an all-around premium look on your mantle.