Our strange new-ish reality of socially distanced lives, remote work and school, and virtual reunions has become rather normal. And though Zoom is far inferior to time spent together in person, finding ways to spend time with family is more important than ever — for our relationships as well as our mental health — and digital picture frames can be a great way to stay (virtually) present in one another’s lives. Digital photo frames, if nothing else, can remind your family what you and your kids look like outside your Zoom screen. And the best digital picture frames out now have the clarity and resolution that their more unwieldy predecessors lacked.
Technology has advanced impressively since digital photo frames’ advent in the early aughts: The frames are much better-looking, and it’s much easier to upload hundreds of hi-res photos to a single frame. And perhaps most importantly, companies have become more transparent and secure with their tech to ensure that your private moments are kept safe. Here are the prettiest, and most user-friendly, frames we found.
Honestly, they thought of everything when they designed this digital frame, which is a standout for many reasons. First off, it doubles as a work of art, giving you access to a curated art library so you can be fancy when you have people over. But if you want to use it to showcase pictures from that long-awaited family reunion, you can create custom playlists to show the photos you want, in whichever order you want. You simply customize settings by waving your hand, or via Amazon's Alexa. Vertical or horizontal? No problem. The frame automatically detects the current orientation. Because this thing is a showstopper, you choose from two frame styles and three colors. As for lighting, it has a built-in ambient light sensor, so those pictures of your kid scoring his first-ever soccer goal look crisp and perfect. Let's say you want to see your dog when you wake up: Set the Meural to show specific photos or pictures at particular times of day. You can even have artwork rotate. Seriously. And it comes with 8GB of built-in memory.
Aura's Carver frame is ideal for sharing because it allows you to preload photos and invite family to see personalized albums. Plus, using the app, you can share photos between multiple Aura frames. The display size is a nice 10.1 inches and the resolution is a respectable 1920 x 1200.
Easy to set up and even easier to use, this frame lets you create a photo sharing network that's secure and limited to specific family members or friends. The nice-looking frame is wall-mountable, has a sweet 1280x800 HD IPS display, and auto-adjusts to portrait or landscape placement. It even works with Alexa.
Mason by Aura is the perfect picture frame for those looking for a minimalist design. Whether you go for the darker Graphite color, or the brighter White Quartz, the ridged edges of this 9-inch frame add a subtle decorative touch to any photo. Its relatively higher price tag may be due to its impressive sensory technology: Ambient light sensors automatically adjust its display brightness, while presence sensors help pick 'the right photo at the right time.'
With a more functional design, Nixplay’s frames may be some of the most popular digital picture frames around. You can preload the Seed with your favorite photos, or connect it to Dropbox, Google Photos, Facebook, or Instagram to create an automatic slideshow from your albums. In addition to a motion sensor, which detects when people are nearby, it has an Alexa-style voice control allowing you to request specific pictures at any time.
A leader in home wi-fi and digital canvas frames, Meural has long been a photographer favorite. It recently launched its first photo frame, which allows you to instantly connect your favorite memories from your smartphones to a larger display. You can also access the date and location of any photo by utilizing their unique 'wave up' gesture-control feature on the screen. In addition to photos, Meural also has its own extensive art library (an 18,000+ archive) to pick from.
The Skylight may have one of the easiest interfaces around, which makes it the perfect gift for family members who are less tech-savvy. It does have a fairly restrictive email-only option, which might make it not ideal for those who have photos spread out on multiple platforms, or who want to use other handy wi-fi features such as weather reports or smart home connectivity. But since it’s less reliant on a wi-fi connection, it’s a safer choice for those who may not have great connectivity in their house. Its cutest function is its heart icon that allows you to 'love' a photo, which automatically sends an email to whoever sent you the photo to let them know you’re thinking of them.
Even not on sale, the Pix-Star is a deal: a generous 10-inch display is only $155, with the added benefit of being wireless. Like the Aura and Nixplay frames, you can connect the device to your social media accounts to have easy access to any of your photos, or can use their simpler email functionality to send yourself any photos to instantly display. In looks, it’s closer to a tablet on the tablet-to-photo-frame spectrum, which means it can’t be easily mounted on the wall. But it does come with a kickstand to prop up the frame next to any other photos you have on your mantel.
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