Nixplay Smart Photo Frame

When was the last time you actually printed one of your photos and had it framed? If you’re anything like us, it’s been years – which is why digital photo frames are becoming a popular way to put your smartphone snaps on show.

Some let you upload photos from the cloud, while others are simpler and use USB sticks or SD cards to move files over. Either way, they’re a great way to get your photos off Instagram and up on your walls.

Dedicated digital photo frames have since been joined by smart displays from Google and Amazon that show off your photos but do a lot more besides – here are the best of both.

Best digital photo frame reviews

1. Nixplay Smart Photo Frame

2. Google Nest Hub Max

Google Nest Hub Max

3. Google Nest Hub

Google Nest Hub

4. Nixplay Seed Wave 13in Photo Frame (Wi-Fi)

Nixplay Seed Wave 13in Photo Frame (Wi-Fi)

5. Lenovo Smart Display

Lenovo Smart Display

6. Nix Advance 8-Inch Digital Photo Frame

Nix Advance 8-Inch Digital Photo Frame

7. Amazon Echo Show

Amazon Echo Show (2nd-gen)

8. Netgear Meural Canvas II

Netgear Meural Canvas II

Digital photo frame buying advice

As with any tech, not all digital photo frames are created equal, and there’s a bit of variation in what features you can expect. Here’s what to look out for.

Cloud storage vs. physical media

The first thing to check is how the frame accesses and stores photos. Older or cheaper frames tend to rely on physical storage, with ports for USB sticks or SD cards, which it plays the photos from. Make sure to check if the frame has its own internal storage to transfer the photos to, or if you’ll need to leave the USB stick or SD card connected to access your images.

More recent frames often have Wi-Fi support, which means they can access images directly from the cloud. That might mean emailing photos directly to your frame, or (more conveniently) linking your account up to your Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Google Photos, or similar to play images directly from those accounts. You’ll also want to check if you can manage those services through a dedicated smartphone app, or if you’re limited to a web interface or the frame itself.

If you’re already adding your photos to social media or cloud storage accounts anyway, this means you can add them to your photo frame at the same time, making it pretty painless to keep it updated with your latest snaps. Just make sure that you don’t accidentally send something to the frame that you’d rather keep private…

Activity sensors

The best digital photo frames will include an activity sensor, which detects (usually using a microphone) whether anyone is in the room, only turning on when there’s someone around, which is a great way of saving power. Just bear in mind that if you have pets roaming the house, they may be enough to trigger the sensor, turning the frame on unnecessarily.

The other option is to set a sleep timer, telling your frame to automatically turn off and on at certain times of day – off when you go to bed or leave for the office, on for when you wake up or come home at the end of the day.

Most good frames should include both options, allowing you to combine them to really make sure the frame is only on when you want it to be.

Display quality

One last note: set your expectations accordingly when it comes to display quality. Even though they’re essentially just screens with photo storage, screen quality is only slowly becoming a priority across the digital photo frame market.

Look out for screens that are at least Full HD (as some still aren’t that) and even better 2K, though don’t expect to see 4K yet. Note that the lower resolution screens will typically have fewer pixels than your phone, and in turn lower resolution than your photos were taken at.

Still, for most people that won’t be a problem, and the displays tend to be bright and crisp enough to make photos look good, with decent viewing angles so you can enjoy photos from across the room. It just might frustrate serious photographers hoping to see their photos at their absolute best.

Smart displays

Smart displays are a new product category kicked off by Amazon’s Echo Show: stationary displays that include a virtual assistant. The Echo Show includes Amazon’s Alexa assistant, but you can also buy smart displays powered by the Google Assistant.

We’ve made the decision to include some of these smart displays in this chart because they include support for displaying slideshows of photographs, along with a whole lot of functionality besides, such as watching YouTube, listening to music, looking up travel instructions, or just asking Amazon or Google for information about various things.

Smart displays are currently about the same price as many dedicated digital photo frames, which might make them a no-brainer given they have so much extra functionality. There are a couple of downsides to be aware of though. First up, they can be a little more confusing to navigate, and lack the ultra-simplicity of some of the offline digital frames.

Secondly, they’re tied to specific digital photo services: Google Photos for Google Assistant displays, and Amazon Photos for Echo displays. If you already use one of these (or are happy to start) then they’re fantastic, but if you just want to use photos from a USB stick, or display images from other services such as Flickr or Instagram, then some of the dedicated photo frames in our round-up may be better suited.


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