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Digital Photo Frames

Updated on August 22, 2014

Finding the Best Digital Photo Frames

Digital photo frames have become common place. Their prices have dropped and the features they offer have grown in number. These devices offer a way of displaying your favorite photos and video in the best possible way. They are vibrant and colorful, clear and crisp. They never wilt, wither, or fade away.

On this page you will find some tips for selecting the best digital photo frames, see some of the ones that consumers rate most highly, and get a few tips on caring for them to assure their longevity.

Photo by SeanToyer.

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Buying Tips

There are a number of things consumers should consider when buying digital photo frames. Here are a few important things to think about:

1. The screen

To be satisfied with your purchase, you need to be satisfied with the way that your photos are displayed. For good clarity, you want good resolution. The larger the screen, the more pixels you need. A 7" or 8" screen needs a minimum of 640 x 480 pixel resolution. More is better. Some higher resolution screens, and certainly the larger screens, may offer resolution as high as 1024 x 768.

Color and contrast ratio can matter too. A contrast ratio of 400:1 is good, 500:1 is better.

The aspect ratio also matters. A screen with a 4:3 aspect ratio is perfect for most still images. However, if you shoot a lot of panoramic images or shoot widescreen video to display on your frame, a widescreen panel (15:9/16:9) might be a good choice.

Screen size also matters. A 7" or 8" screen is ideal for many people, and they are affordable. However, larger screens are good in larger rooms, in public displays, and so forth.

2. Features

Some people just want a frame to display a few dozen of their favorite images. For others however, there are a host of other features to consider. In all cases, consumers probably should not opt for many features that they won't want or use. It's an unnecessary expense and it adds to the complexity of the device. Some of the common features include:

Ease of Control Features: Some of these devices offer a remote control while others may have a touch screen interface.Wireless: Some frames offer wireless connectivity via Wi-Fi, Bluetooth, or a cellular network. This can make transferring images easier and sharing almost instantaneous in some instances. Energy Saving Features: Some digital photo frames have an auto on/off feature that allows you to have it power on or off at certain times or intervals. Others may have a motion sensor to allow it to operate only when someone is present. Others are Energy Star Qualitifed and some use an LED backlight for more energy conscious operation.Creative Options: Some of these devices allow the user to resize images, to create slideshows, to add transition effects, to vary presentation speed, to add music, and so forth.

Other functions: Some digital photo frames display more than still images. Some will display video. Some will also play music/audio files. There even offered added features like a clock, alarm, calendar, FM radio, iPod dock, and more that are sometimes available on these devices.3. Automated functionsHaving a frame with automatic on/off is good, but it's only a start. A device that auto rotates images assures they will display appropriately at all times. Some will auto re-size images to fit the display panel. Some wireless models allow you to set them up to automatically receive photos from friends or family when they are posted to photo sharing sites.4.Technical SpecificationsYou will want to know how much storage the frame offers. This memory may be in the form of internal or built-in storage and/or removable memory; such as memory card slots. For users with the typical 8 -12 megapixel camera, 1 GB of storage is probably a good minimum for storing plenty photos and some music files. Video will take up more space than audio files or JPEG images.If you use less common image file types like TIFF or BMP you'll want to be sure the frame will be compatible with these file types. So too, with video. If you aren't using MPEG-4, double check the type of video files the frame accepts.Most modern digital photo frames accept the typical types of memory cards, USB and mini USB. But, it always pays to check to be sure you'll be able to transfer images easily. If you'll be using wireless, you'll need to be sure of compatibility there as well. (Wi-Fi, Bluetooth)

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Digital Photo Frames with a Touch Screen

Touch screens are preferred by many people. They provide a sleek look, are more intuitive, and are simply very modern. The buttons on many of these devices are quite small, therefore having a touch screen can be preferrable because fewer errors are made.

There are just a few digital photo frames that offer touch screen control and one of the most popular one with consumers is below.

Pandigital 72-PTFF 12-inch Touchscreen Digital Picture Frame (Brown)
Pandigital 72-PTFF 12-inch Touchscreen Digital Picture Frame (Brown)

This Pandigital device offers a wooden frame and 12" touch screen with 800 x 600 resolution and 4:3 format. Users can transfer photos directly from their camera, memory card, or their comoputer via USB. It offers 2 GB of internal memory and a 6 in 1 memory card reader.

Other features include a headphone jack, stereo speakers, brightness control, a remote control, clock calendar, alarm, and Wi-Fi/Bluetooth compatibility when paired with the optional adapter. It is compatible with JPEG, AVI and MP3 digital video and audio. It has slideshow functions as well.

 
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Digital Photo Frames with a Motion Sensor

So what is the attraction of digital photo frames with a motion sensor? Typically, because they turn on and shut off automatically. They aren't just on a clock, they do their job of displaying images/sound/video only when someone is present.

This means that they save energy and eliminate the error of simply forgetting to turn them off. It also means that if someone forgets to turn them on for days at a time, they don't go neglected. Busy professionals, grandmothers, and so forth won't have a blank screen cluttering the room. The cheerful images will catch their eye without taking the time or attention needed to turn the device on.

In commercial applications, they are perfect if you want to display information to customers or employees as they pass by. Below are some of the digital photo frames with a motion sensor that have current customers singing their praises.

NIX Pro Series 12" Digital Frame with Motion Detection Sensor
NIX Pro Series 12" Digital Frame with Motion Detection Sensor

This 12" digital photo frame is the larger version of the one described above. It offers a heftier internal memory, 2GB and two 2W speakers.

 
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Digital Photo Frames for Still Images and Video

The first digital photo frames introduced some years ago were a great way of enjoying a dozen or so of your favorite digital images. Now of course, things have progressed. These devices are now capable of displaying more than that. They can display hundreds of photos, put them in a slide show, add special transition effects, throw in some music, and yes, even allow you to enjoy your video too.

If you shoot video in widescreen, then a frame with a widescreen aspect ratio might be a good choice. If you want more tips on choosing the right device for video, visit our page on video photo frames. Below are some of the digital photo frames currently on the market that rate high with consumers.

NIX 15 Inch Hi-Resolution Digital Picture Frame, 1GB Internal Memory, Photo, Video, Music, Split Screen Option - Plug & Play X15A
NIX 15 Inch Hi-Resolution Digital Picture Frame, 1GB Internal Memory, Photo, Video, Music, Split Screen Option - Plug & Play X15A

This high resolution digital photo frame has a 15" display with 1024x 768 resolution and 500:1 contrast ratio. It is LED backlit for energy efficient operation and vivid images. Users can enjoy JPEG photos and MPEG-4 video, and MP3 music. Thereis an option to set up a split screen, a variable slideshow timer, and features like photo shuffle. This picture frame is wall mountable, has 1 GB of internal memory, and accepts SD, SDHC, xD, Sony MS, Sony Duo Pro flash memory, and USB Flash drives. It comes with an AC power adapter and remote control

 
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Digital Photo Frames with a Remote Control

The majority of newer digital photo frames come with a remote control. Clearly a remote allows the user to control the device from across the room without having to get up. You can turn it on or off, silence the music, switch to a different slide show, and so forth without moving from the spot where you are working, reading, or whatever else. Some consumers even find it easier to use the remote than the tiny buttons on the display itself.

The devices below are just a few of the frames available with this feature, but they are ones that customers have rated highly. Of course not every remote control offers the same level of control, some allow you to turn the frame on and off, others do much more. Checking to be sure what it is capable of doing can be important.

Sony DPF-D95 9-Inch LED Backlit Digital Photo Frame with Remote (Black)
Sony DPF-D95 9-Inch LED Backlit Digital Photo Frame with Remote (Black)

This Sony digital photo frame is available as a 7", 8", 9", or 10.2" display. It is LED backlit and comes with an AC transformer and remote control. It offers 800x600 resolution and allows you to set up slideshows. It offers a clock and calendar function as well. Users can display photos from memory stick Duo, SD memory cards, or a USB flash drive.

 
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Digital Photo Frames with a Widescreen

Digital photo frames with a widescreen can be impressive. If you shoot widescreen video or a lot of panoramic shots they can be perfect. The typical 4:3 format of most still images will also display on these widescreen frames. Some will stretch the image and others will just have black bars that take up the extra space.

See some of the consumer favorites below.

Sony DPF-VR100 10.2-Inch WSVGA LCD (16:10) Digital Photo Frame (Black)
Sony DPF-VR100 10.2-Inch WSVGA LCD (16:10) Digital Photo Frame (Black)

This is a 10.2 inch photo frame with a widescreen format and 1024 x 600 resolution. You can enjoy still images, video, and MP3 audio with stereo sound. You can set up slide shows, add creative transition effects, set multiple custom on/off functions, shuffle photos, adjust photo display times, and more. There is a clock and an included remote control. This frame will accept MS, MS Duo, SD, SDHC, and xD memory cards and USB thumb drives.

 
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Wireless Digital Photo Frames

Wireless digital photo frames make transferring photos to the frame easy if you have a camera, camera phone, or other device with wireless. Some offer Wi-Fi and others Bluetooth, and a few use a cellular connection.

Some wireless photo frames have their own e-mail address and give users the capability of e-mailing photos to and from the frame. Some allow this to happen almost instantaneously as you upload photos to a photo sharing site. This is particularly convenient if you have family and friends with whom you share photos. If they have a compatible digital photo frame, your photos will show up automatically.

Those digital photo frames which wirelessly connect via a cellular network don't require Wi-Fi or Bluetooth. The frame allows you to do this using the AT&T network (no service plan required). The Vizit frame is popular with consumers and uses a cellular connection as well, you can see it below.

Vizit 10.4-Inch Digital Photo Frame with Cellular Connectivity (Silver/White)
Vizit 10.4-Inch Digital Photo Frame with Cellular Connectivity (Silver/White)

This 10.4" digital photo frame offers either a gey/black frame or silver/white. It allows 2 way photo sharing via a cellular network. You can easily send photos via e-mail or MMS from your cell phone or computer to this frame. Users also get remote photo storage and can access photos on internet photo sharing sites.

The frame offers 800 x 600 resolution, touch screen controls, and SD and USB slots.

 
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A Few Tips on Caring for Digital Photo Frames

For proper care and maintenance, there is no substitute for reading the manufacturer's instructions. However, in general the following tips should apply.

Digital photo frames are obviously electronic devices. Therefore, this means that they should be protected from moisture. Thus, they are intended for indoor use. It also means they probably are safest when set up away from rooms that may expose them to excessive humidity or moisture, like the kitchen or bathroom, or a non-climate controlled basement. Excessive heat is also destructive and placing them in direct sunlight or near a heat source is inadvisable. (Of course sunlight will also make viewing the screen more difficult as well.)

A digital photo frame will typically have air vents on the back. It's important not to block these by setting them directly against a wall or another object. Only frames designated as wall mountable or which have vents on the top, bottom, or sides, should be mounted on the wall.

To assure longevity and save energy, it's important to turn off the frame when not in use. For this reason, having an automated on/off function is preferrable.

Ideally, these devices should be placed where they are unlikely to be knocked over by pets or small children. Care should be taken when spraying cleaners or deodorizers to avoid getting any on the screen.

The screen is generally an LCD and can be cleaned in much the same way a computer or flat screen TV is cleaned. A microfiber cloth can be used to remove fingerprints. For more stubborn spots, an LCD or computer screen cleaner can be applied to the cloth first (not to the screen itself).

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    • mariaamoroso profile image

      irenemaria 6 years ago from Sweden

      These photo frames are so smart when you have a small apartment! It fits in anywhere.