Digital Picture Frames

Category: Gadgets

I want to give my mother a digital picture frame, but she's a senior citizen and not so tech savvy. What do you recommend that works well and is easy to use?

digital photo frame

Which Digital Picture Frame Should You Buy?

Digital picture frames are growing fast in popularity, as prices come down and cool new features are added. You can buy one frame and display any number of pictures in it easily. Load digital images into the frame's flash memory. Just touch a button to change the picture. You can even buy a digital picture frame with a WiFi connection and it will display images that are somewhere else, on the Web. Digital picture frames can do even more.

But consider who will use the digital picture frame before you buy a fully tricked out one. Grandma probably just wants to see the grandkids; she doesn't want to surf the Web looking for new pictures to display. So there should be just one button that lets her change photos, not a bunch of menus and submenus to figure out.

Some digital frames have a built-in clock, calendar and alarm. Some can print photos to PictBridge enabled printers, or turn off automatically at night. And a remote control can be a nice feature, too. If you want to get really fancy, streaming Internet radio is a feature found in some high-end digital picture frames. You can hear a symphony while images that complement the music rotate through the frame. There are services like FrameChannel that combine libraries of images matched to tunes, and also let you specify your own pictures from Facebook, Photobucket, Picasa, and other online sources to be displayed when specific music plays.

What About the Specs?

Display resolution is critical in digital picture frames. Nothing below 640 x 480 pixels is acceptable, and realistically you want much more. Also consider the aspect ratio: 4:3 will be best for photos, while 15:9 is widescreen HD format. Displaying a standard 4:3 photo in a 15:9 frame will crop part of the image's top. Incidentally, a good frame should be able to display a photo right side up in either portrait or landscape mode.

If you want to watch videos in addition to viewing static photos, be prepared to pay a bit more for high-performance electronics. Test any picture frame in the store to see how fast it can change from one picture to another; some low-end frames take 9-10 seconds to do this simple task!

Visibility is the essence of a picture frame, so you really should view a digital picture frame's performance in person before buying it. Look at viewing angles; how far to either side can you stand and still see the picture clearly? Check the vertical viewing angles, too, by looking down on the frame and holding it up above your head.

You can expect to pay $69 or more for a basic 8-inch digital frame. Kodak, Phillips, Sony and other well-known electronics companies make good quality models. You might want to stay away from the no-name brands unless you can check it out in person first.

Usability is not an issue with traditional frames but it is when you have buttons to push on a digital frame. Check out the controls around the frame's edge or in its base. Are they easy to identify? Can you press, slide, or tap them easily?

And how easy do they make it to add pictures to the digital photo frame? Some allow you to connect the device to your computer, then transfer images via drag & drop. Others let you insert a USB memory stick or a digital camera memory card. Even easier, eStarling TouchConnect lets you email photos directly to the digital picture frame, which takes all the hassle out of it for the non-techie users.

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Posted by on 5 Jan 2010


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Most recent comments on "Digital Picture Frames"

Posted by:

Bill Sturgeon
06 Jan 2010

We bought a reasonably nice digital picture frame for "Grandma" (my mother-in-law), loaded a thumb drive with family pictures and gave it to her for Christmas.

Unfortunately she doesn't "get it" when it comes to turning it on, putting it on display and leaving it on. Every time I set it up on display on at her house while we were visiting her during the holidays, I would later find it turned off and stashed away.


Posted by:

Frank Woodman Jr.
06 Jan 2010

Also remember any frame you buy will come with a disk containing the drivers necessary to use your frame with your computer. Be sure to SCAN that disk before it using with your anti-virus software. As has been reported some of this software has been found to be infected with various malware programs, Trojans, and even key loggers.

So don't trust that CD that came with the frame to be clean. Check it out and if you find a problem you can usually get clean software at the companies web site. I found this out the hard way with a name brand frame I purchased. It had a key logger program that installed from it's software CD that wasn't discovered until later when I did a scan and found it.

It took a while to discover where I had picked it up. So be very careful that any CD's coming with such types of devices are checked for rouge software since they may hide unwanted surprises...


Posted by:

Brynjar
06 Jan 2010

Would like a digital picture frame, place it with family in Denmark and be able to control it from my home in Norway.... Create and delete slideshows.


Posted by:

Joe M
07 Jan 2010

What drives me nutz is the HUGE border they put around the actual screen! Kind of like buying a bag of chips that's only half-full!!! :-)

BTW, should the aspect ratio not be 16:9 or is that some other change in ratios (like calling a 14.3" screen 15")?

Thanks for the run-down. Since I bought one of these about 5 years ago for a family member, I hadn't realized they've become so sophistocated.


Posted by:

Anna McCullough
07 Jan 2010

Not all picture frames need to come with drivers or a disc. I bought one that connected with a simple USB cable, has its own firmware and is recognized by the computer as a removable drive.

However, this frame is too complicated in terms of the remote and the procedure to load photos for an elderly person; the woman to whom I gave it won't even turn it on (she's 83 and afraid she'll break it) ... !!


Posted by:

Geoff Pickering
07 Jan 2010

My mother (90) has a habit of unplugging the frame my children gave her at Thanksgiving. At poweron the frame demands date/time/bloodgroup before displaying pictures again so it has been rather disappointing. With hindsight, battery powered might have been more successful, or at least an internal clock.


Posted by:

Steverino
07 Jan 2010

I would have liked you to address the resolution of different sized frames and the minimum res for different sizes and the benefit of higher res of the LCD screen.
I discovered having a higher resolution image size than that recommended by the frame made a big difference on its display on the screen compared to the res that the software generated with its own software which created a soft mushy mess.
I batch processed the images in Faststone, a free editing and viewing program. You also are able to do some minor tweaking of lightening, contrast, color balance and sharpening with that program and it made a substantial improvement when viewing the images.


Posted by:

Helen Isensee
11 Jan 2010

My son gave me (I'm 73) a Pandigital picture frame for a combined Christmas-Birthday gift. It doesn't require a computer to use it, but is a little difficult to get set up. Luckily I just ask my son and my problem is solved.

I'd prefer a printed user's guide to the CD they enclosed with the user's guide on it (in adobe format.)

I love the picture frame and leave it on all the time. My son put 250 pictures on it and I plan to transfer some from my computer soon.


Posted by:

kim
13 Jan 2010

I bought my 81 year old mother a 10" Kodak M1020 and she doesn't have to do a thing to enjoy the photos. It has a timer so it turns on in the morning and off at night (user enters the desired times). It wasn't cheap and I do not like the touch border (I much prefer the small remote that my 15" Smartparts one has but even that would've been too difficult for her to use) but once I had hers set up (which was easy to do) she loves it. I had bought her a Kodak EX1011 a few years ago that died after 18 months so was reluctant to buy another Kodak but after looking at many, the Kodak was the right size and had the timer option I wanted for her.


Posted by:

Jon Robert
13 Jan 2010

You overlooked the CEIVA concept, which allows remote children to upload photos from their computer in California to their parents' frame in Indiana. The parents don't need a computer, just hook the frame to a phone line. Has worked well for us for years.


Posted by:

Per
13 Jan 2010

I love my Philips 4:3 10" frame, which it the size to buy.
I has abuild-in timer, so it is turned on every morning and runs for 4 hours.
There are several transition modes and if the picture do not fit the frame it has a very nice feature to use the colors of the picture to make "a frame".
It does not start with the same picture each time it is turned on and if put on random selection - you will never want another pictureframe. Comes with bluethooth;-))
I have had several smaller ones, but with this Philips it all comes together.


Posted by:

Jack
03 Jun 2012

I love digital frames but one thing bothers me. Why not have a screen that is square and have the photos be the same size whether they are vertical or horizontal?


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