Best Digital Photo Frame:
Complete Buyer’s Guide 2018

By Steve Murano
Last updated: April 2018

digital picture frame
A digital picture frame (also called a digital photo frame or a wireless/electronic picture frame) is an electronic device that contains an LCD screen and a microcomputer inside. It looks similar to a traditional picture frame and is used to display digital pictures without the need for a computer or a printer.

You can can set up a frame to only show one picture all the time, similar to an ordinary picture frame, or, more common, to run many pictures in a slideshow. Many modern frames also offer support for video files, GIFs and audio files. Some even come equipped with a motion sensor, which turns the frame off to save electricity when there’s nobody home to see the pictures.

This article will teach you how to choose the best digital photo frame, what to pay attention to when shopping for the frame and also list our top picks.

Friendly warning!
This is a really long article (3,500+ words on the last count!). To make it easier to navigate, you will find a handy Table of Contents below.

In a hurry? Here are the models we discuss below:
(Click each one to see the current price on Amazon)

Best Digital Photo Frame – NIXPLAY SEED 10 INCH
Best Non-WiFi Digital Picture Frame – NIX ADVANCE 10 INCH
Best Large Digital Photo Frame – NIXPLAY 18.5 INCH WIFI CLOUD

image of a digital photo frameDigital picture frames are finally becoming cool. Manufacturers have addressed most of the issues early products suffered from. Technology has also enabled some cool new features that make using the frame a much more enjoyable experience.

If you’ve been thinking of purchasing a digital photo frame, now is a good time to do that. Most of the early quirks have finally been worked out and the price is currently at it’s lowest.

From the technology standpoint, even the very best digital picture frame is quite a simple product to manufacture. As a result, you will find there are literally hundreds of seemingly similar products on the market. How do you know which one to choose? Which one will provide the best bang for your buck and won’t turn out to be a disappointment in just a few days?

Fear not, our Ultimate Guide to Digital Picture Frames will teach you how to choose a digital photo frame in just a few simple steps. You’ll learn which features to look for and which ones are more of a marketing gimmick. We’ll help you decide whether you need any additional functionality or you will be fine with a simpler, more affordable model. Finally, we’ll answer the most frequently asked questions about the digital frames.

Doing your research and have a few frames in mind, but can’t decide which one is best? Luckily for you, we’ve compiled an extensive comparison table where we compare some of the most popular digital picture frames on the market. With all the details you might need, it’s easy to make an educated choice. Go to Digital Picture Frames Comparison Table

First digital frames appeared on the market around the mid-2000s. They quickly gained popularity, especially as a gift for parents or grandparents. Many young couples would give their parents a digital frame and then would regularly upload new pictures of a baby – this way the grandparents get to see their grandchildren grow even if they live hundreds or thousands miles away. A digital photo frame loaded with gorgeous pictures from your last vacation could also work as a beautiful piece of decor. And a frame loaded with family photos sitting on an office desk or in the corner of a living room makes you relive those special moments every time you glance at the frame.

The digital picture frames, however, never became a huge commercial success. There were some issues with the first generation of the product, that prevented it from becoming a hit.

Problems of the early digital frames:
  • display quality was sub-par, since manufacturers often used cheaper LCD panels
  • screen resolution was very low, which, combined with point 1, meant the pictures never looked good on the screen
  • the frame had to be turned on and off manually, if you wanted to save electricity
  • nobody could be bothered with updating the pictures, once they were loaded into the frame
  • frames were expensive, with the price of even a smaller frame often exceeding several hundred dollars

Add to that the fact that many frames looked cheap and cheesy, and it becomes clear that digital picture frames are a perfect example of a brilliant idea and poor execution.

Manufacturers did not seem to pick up on this for quite a few years, though… There have been no major updates in the industry for many years with most competition happening on the price alone. Several major players (e.g. Kodak) have either went out of business or stopped producing digital frames altogether.

In the past few years, though, there has been some development in the digital frames world. Several new companies started producing digital frames. And it seems they’ve finally addressed some of the issues that plagued the product for years.

Benefits of modern digital picture frames:
  • they look much better than the old ones, making them much simpler to fit into your interior
  • the resolution and screen quality got a much-needed bump. In fact, some frames now even feature the IPS screen, well-known for its accurate color reproduction and great viewing angles
  •  a few taps on the phone or a few clicks on your computer is all it takes to update the images on the frame
  • motion sensor makes sure the frame will only turn on when there’s somebody in the room
  • some frames can now play video and audio
  • depending on the model, you might be able to send your latest Instagram, Facebook, Flickr and other pictures to the frame automatically

How can a digital picture frame be used?

Easy-to-use digital photo frames make an awesome gift for parents and grandparents. They are simple, plug-and-play and require hardly any maintenance to operate

Why would someone buy a digital picture frame today?

When we have all those smartphones and tablets?
easy to use

No apps and no software to deal with. Perfect gift for non-technical friends and relatives

Set & Forget

Once it’s set up and loaded with pictures, simply turn it on and it just works

piece of art in your room

A stylish frame can be a part of your interior and nicely complement your home decor

heart-warming memories

It’s always nice to see a good old picture you completely forgot about

free your photos

Most of the pictures we take nowadays are forever trapped in the smartphone and never see the light of day. Here’s their chance

Update Pictures Remotely

With many modern frames you can send new pictures to the frame from anywhere in the world with just a few clicks

As you can see, even in this day and age, there is a space for a digital picture frame. The question is – how do you find a good one among all those that are available?

It’s not that hard, when you know what to look for. Below we take you through each of the features you’re likely to find when  choosing a digital picture frame.

“A digital picture frame acts like a little time-machine, taking you back in time to the moment that picture was taken every time you see it”

How to choose a digital picture frame?

From tiny 2″ keychain frames to 35″ monsters, there’s no shortage of options when it comes to the frame’s screen size. Larger-sized products are usually hung on the walls, while smaller 7-15 inch frames usually look best on a shelve or even on a kitchen table. Most common frame display sizes are 7″, 8″, 10″, 12″ and 15″, but some manufacturers make beautiful large scale frames often hitting 25″ and even 35″.

Once you’ve decided on the size, you need to make sure the screen resolution of the frame is up to par. As with any display, the higher the resolution, the better the picture quality. However, unlike with a tablet or a TV, there’s usually no need for super-high resolution displays in a frame. Aim for something with at least 800 x 600 resolution or higher. Obviously, the higher the screen size, the higher the resolution must be for the picture to remain sharp, so for a frame of 12″ and larger, you might want to look for 1024 x 768 or higher options. If you only want the best, some high-end frames even feature 4K resolution!

Frequently Asked Questions about digital picture frames

It depends on a lot of factors but on average you should be able to fit at least 1,000 pictures into a 4GB USB stick/memory card. So, for an 8GB and 16GB that would be 2,000 and 4,000 pictures respectively.

Our Top Picks

With hundreds of products out there choosing the best digital photo frame one can be a daunting task. We’ve made your life easier by compiling lists of the best digital photo frames for every budget and occasion.

The best digital photo frame

Nixplay Seed 10 inch

 
a photo of the best digital picture frame - Seed 10 inch by Nixplay

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Nixplay Seed is a perfect choice for most people who want to share pictures to the frame wirelessly from a variety of sources. It’s got a beautiful high-resolution IPS screen with the 4:3 aspect ratio, a motion sensor to save electricity and a nice design that helps it fit it into most interiors.

Why did we choose Nixplay Seed?

We chose Nixplay Seed for several reasons:

  • ease of use: Seed is a perfect example of a “set-and-forget” frame, which can be set up in minutes and is easily updated from anywhere in the world via WiFi – perfect present for technologically-challenged relatives, who won’t need to worry about updating the pictures
  • versatility: while simple, Seed also has all the functionality a power-user might need, including integrations with most popular cloud services, a smartphone app and lots of customization options
  • generous internal storage: Seed comes with 8GB of internal storage which should be enough to cover most users’ needs – expect to fit at least several thousand smartphone picture files
  • the manufacturer, Nixplay, is actively supporting customers on online forums, offers detailed instructions on how to set up the product on their website and seems to be investing in the product development

PROS:

  • high-res IPS screen – great clarity and superior viewing angles
  • 4:3 aspect ratio – no black borders on smartphone pictures
  • easy to update pictures on the frame wirelessly

CONS:

  • Seed is a WiFi only frame – you won’t be able to use your USB drive or memory card to update the pictures on the frame
  • That also means that in order to receive new pictures, the frame needs to be connected to a WiFi network

If you don’t need WiFi functionality or don’t have a wireless network where you plan to use the digital frame, you can save quite a bit of money by purchasing a non-WiFi digital photo frame. In that case you would need to use USB sticks or memory cards to upload new pictures to the frame, though.

The best non-WIFi digital picture frame

Nix Advance 10 inch

a picture of a non-connected digital photo frame nix Advance 10 inch

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NIX Advance 10 inch has got the same gorgeous IPS screen as it’s more expensive WiFi-enabled relative, along with the motion sensor, remote control and the optimal 4:3 screen aspect ratio. It even plays videos, if that’s what you’re after. Advance comes with an 8GB USB stick, so you won’t have to worry about that either. We’ve chosen the 10-inch model here, but it also comes in 8, 12, 15 and even 18.5 inches.

Why did we choose Nixplay Advance?
  • screen quality: Advance features a high-resolution IPS screen, which means perfect clarity and superior viewing angles
  • power saving: the motion sensor will automatically turn the frame on when you enter the room and turn it off when you leave
  • generous internal storage: Advance comes with an 8GB USB stick which should be enough to cover most users’ needs – expect it to fit at least several thousand smartphone pictures

PROS:

  • high-res IPS screen – great clarity and superior viewing angles
  • 4:3 aspect ratio – no black borders on smartphone pictures
  • easy to update pictures on the frame wirelessly
  • motion sensor

CONS:

  • since it’s a non-WiFi frame, you will need to use either USB stick or a memory card to update the pictures
  • Advance 8-inch model does not come with a USB drive or a memory card – you will need to supply it yourself (make sure you get a low-profile one). 10-inch and above models come with an 8GB stick

Although more expensive, large screen digital picture frames provide a much more immersive experience, are more easily seen from afar and overall are a bit better at bringing your photos to life. While most digital photo frames fall into the 7 to 12 inch range, there are quite a few options in the 15 to 18 inch range and above. We have compared several good options below.

Our overall winner among large-screen digital photo frames is Nixplay 18.5 inch WiFi Cloud Digital Photo Frame

The best large screen digital picture frame

Nixplay 18.5 inch WiFi Cloud

a picture of the best large digital picture frame Nixplay 18.5 inch WiFi Cloud

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Nixplay 18.5 inch has a beautiful large screen, high-resolution screen (although with a 16:9 aspect ratio, which might mean small black borders on the photos taken in a 4:3 aspect ratio), a motion sensor and a WiFi module, which means you will be able to email pictures to the frame, use a smartphone app, as well as connect the farame to a number of online social platforms (Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram, etc.).

Why did we choose Nixplay 18.5 inch WiFi Cloud?
  • screen quality: Nixplay 18.5 inch features a high-resolution anti-glare screen
  • power saving: the motion sensor will automatically turn the frame on when you enter the room and turn it off when you leave
  • WiFi Cloud functionality: Nixplay 18.5 inch W18A is a WiFI enabled Cloud frame, which means you will be able to update the images on the frame remotely

PROS:

  • high-res anti-glare screen: great clarity and superior viewing angles
  • WiFi frame: easy to update pictures remotely via website, smartphone app or email
  • motion sensor: helps save money on your electricity bill by only turning the frame on when there’s someone in the room

CONS:

  • slightly more expensive than other large-screen frames
  • 16:9 aspect ratio might cause small black borders if your pictures were taken in a traditional 4:3 ratio

 

Digital Picture Frames Comparison

Best Digital Photo Frames

  • Model name
  • Display Size
  • Screen Resolution
  • Screen Aspect Ratio
  • Display Technology
  • Connectivity Technology
  • Email pictures to frame
  • Motion Sensor
  • Auto On/Off Timer
  • Video Playback
  • Remote Control
  • Internal Memory
  • Smartphone app
  • Built-in battery
  • Integration with Cloud Services
  • Clock/Calendar
  • Speakers
  • Comments
digital picture frame NIX Advance 10
  • NIX Advance 10 inch
    Model: W07A
  • 7 inches
  • 1024x768
  • 4:3
  • IPS
  • USB, SD/SDHC
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes (MPEG-4)
  • Yes
  • Comes with an 8GB USB stick
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes/Yes
  • No
digital picture frame Nixplay W10A Mulberry
  • Nixplay Seed 10 inch
    Model: W10A
  • 10 inches
  • 1024x768
  • 4:3
  • IPS
  • WiFi only
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
  • 8GB
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes. Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, Google Photos, Flickr and others
  • Yes/Yes
  • No
  • If there's no WiFi connection, the frame will still display the previously uploaded pictures
digital picture frame Nixplay Seed 8 inch Black
  • Nixplay Seed 8 inch
    Model: W08D
  • 8 inches
  • 1024x768
  • 4:3
  • IPS
  • WiFi only
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes
  • 8GB
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes. Facebook, Dropbox, Instagram, Google Photos, Flickr and others
  • Yes/Yes
  • No
  • If there's no WiFi connection, the frame will still display the previously uploaded pictures

Best non-WiFi Digital Photo Frames

  • Model name
  • Display Size
  • Screen Resolution
  • Screen Aspect Ratio
  • Display Technology
  • Connectivity Technology
  • Email pictures to frame
  • Motion Sensor
  • Auto On/Off Timer
  • Video Playback
  • Remote Control
  • Internal Memory
  • Smartphone app
  • Built-in battery
  • Integration with Cloud Services
  • Clock/Calendar
  • Speakers
  • Comments
NIX X10G photo frame
  • NIX Advance 10 inch
    Model: X10G
  • 10 inches
  • 1024x768
  • 4:3
  • IPS
  • USB, SD/SDHC
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes (MPEG-4)
  • Yes
  • Comes with an 8GB USB stick
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes
picture of Micca 12 inch NEO
  • Micca 12 inch Natural View
    NEO series
  • 12.1 inches
  • 800x600
  • 4:3
  • LCD
  • USB, SD/SDHC
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes (MP4 and MKV)
  • Yes
  • Comes with an 8GB USB stick
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes
NIX X12 digital picture frame
  • NIX Advance 12 inch
    Model: X12D
  • 12 inches
  • 800x600
  • 4:3
  • IPS
  • USB, SD/SDHC
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes (MPEG-4)
  • Yes
  • Comes with an 8GB USB stick
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes

Best Large-Screen Digital Photo Frames

  • Model name
  • Display Size
  • Screen Resolution
  • Screen Aspect Ratio
  • Display Technology
  • Connectivity Technology
  • Email pictures to frame
  • Motion Sensor
  • Auto On/Off Timer
  • Video Playback
  • Remote Control
  • Internal Memory
  • Smartphone app
  • Built-in battery
  • Integration with Cloud Services
  • Clock/Calendar
  • Speakers
  • Comments
Nixplay W18A 18.5 inch digital frame
  • Nixplay W18A 18.5-Inch WiFi Cloud Digital Photo Frame
    Model: W18A
  • 18.5 inches
  • 1366x768
  • 16:9
  • LED LCD
  • USB, SD/SDHC, WiFi
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes (Dropbox, Facebook, Instagram and others)
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes
PixStar 15 inch photo frame
  • Pix-Star 15 Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame
    FotoConnect XD 15
  • 15 inches
  • 1024x768
  • 4:3
  • LCD
  • USB, SD/SDHC, WiFi
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • 4GB
  • Yes
  • No
  • Yes, more than 20
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes
  • PixStar was one of the very first manufacturers who introduced WiFi Cloud frames a few years ago
Micca 15 Natural View digital picture frame
  • Micca 15 inch Natural View
    Neo Series M153A-M
  • 15 inches
  • 1024x768
  • 4:3
  • LCD
  • USB, SD/SDHC
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes (MP4 and MKV)
  • Yes
  • Comes with an 8GB USB stick
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes
Nix 18.5 inch digital photo frame
  • NIX 18.5 inch Hi-Res Digital Photo Frame
    Model: W18B
  • 18.5 inches
  • 1366x768
  • 16:9
  • LED LCD
  • USB, SD/SDHC
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Comes with a 4GB USB stick
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes
  • This is a non-WiFi version of Nixplay W18A WiFi Cloud frame
Nix Advance 15 inch photo frame
  • NIX Advance 15 inch
    Model: X15D
  • 15 inches
  • 1024x768
  • 4:3
  • IPS
  • USB, SD/SDHC
  • No
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Yes
  • Comes with an 8GB USB stick
  • No
  • No
  • No
  • Yes/Yes
  • Yes