In the age of smartphones, we’re awash in adorable pictures of kids, pets, friends, and family that will never see the inside of a picture frame. Well, a traditional frame, anyway. And it’s hard to keep photos organized on your phone in one place. That’s where digital picture frames come in. These frames are the perfect sleek, small-footprint way to display those snaps that would otherwise languish on your camera roll.
While digital frames of the past worked via a memory card from a digital camera, many have since adapted to our phone-centric lives. Some models now let you upload images — often an unlimited number — to the frames via an app or website. And because images can be uploaded remotely, they make great gifts for relatives: Grandparents and other doting family members can get a gallery of photos that also keeps them up-to-date on what everyone is up to. Beyond displaying photos, digital frames come with additional features like smart home capabilities, calendars and video play.
Digital picture frames run the gamut from high-end, design-oriented options to good budget models that don’t sacrifice image clarity for price. So whether for gifting a frame or keeping one for your own photo-display purposes, these are our recommended picks for your pics.
1. Aura Digital Photo Frame
Design meets function in one elegant package with Aura’s digital photo frames. Upload an unlimited number of photos via the app to your frame or one you’ve gifted to a family member. Give it to grandparents for a birthday or holiday and keep adding pictures throughout the year — it’s the gift that keeps on giving. The frame plays newer photos first, and photos can be switched with the swipe of a hand. The frame is also designed to auto-adjust brightness to time of day, and “sleep” at night. The frames also are designed to look like a traditional picture frame, helping them blend seamlessly into your home.
2. Pix-Star Digital Photo Frame
In addition to displaying an unlimited number of photographs, this frame can display the date and time as well as reminders, stream music and even play games. Photos and albums can be managed through a web-based account, as well as added via email. The account can also sync photos from places like Flickr, Instagram and Facebook. Photos can be organized into albums, and the frame can be programmed to play all photos or just from one album.
It’s extremely customizable, and can play music via USB or internet radio, unlimited photo storage. However, some users have noticed a time lag in photo syncing, and the online account isn’t as intuitive as some app-based digital frame photo storage options.
3. PhotoSpring Digital Picture Frame
While wifi-enabled devices are more expensive than digital frames that run via memory cards or jump drives, this is a relatively low-priced option that still offers lots of great features. There isn’t unlimited storage, but devices can stream up to 16 GB of photos. An app lets multiple users share photos to multiple frames. Photos play on slideshow, but you can also swipe, like on a smartphone, to see new photographs. It can also be charged and run off of battery with no wires or plugs.
4. NIX Advance Digital Photo Frame
Non-wifi enabled devices are still the best value for digital frames. The NIX Advance frame can display thousands of images via memory card or jump drive. With no apps or accounts, you simply insert a memory card or jump drive pre-loaded with photos and the frame will start playing your photos. Photo storage isn’t unlimited, but you can find memory cards and jump drives that go well over 200 GB for storage thousands and thousands of images, making it functionally nearly unlimited. Using the included remote, you can set the transitions and choose where you want images to shuffle or play by date added. The remote also allows you to access the calendar and clock functions.
5. Camkory Digital Photo Frame
A great value-driven option, it comes with two memory cards so all you’ll need to do is add them to a memory card reader to load them with up to 32 GB of photos and videos. A USB port also allows you to stream images and even music via a jump drive. A remote control also allows you to switch to a calendar display and set alarms. An image preview function also allows you to quickly select wich images you want to display.