We’ve spent almost a year now in our strange new reality of socially distanced lives, remote work and school, and virtual reunions. 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.
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 safest, frames we found.
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.' Plus, it’s made to be gifted! Aura frames come with a gift box, free of charge, with the option of adding personal messages
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. This 13-inch widescreen frame is currently marked down from $300, which means if you snag it fast, you’ll be getting it at a better price than most other digital frames in this category.
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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