by Eric Ravenscraft on
If you rent your home, you could feel left out of the current smart home renaissance. Fear not, though. There are still quite a few gadgets you can get to smarten up your rental.
Digital picture frames have exploded in popularity over the last few years, but the market is glutted with really low quality products. Don’t waste your money on a frame with a cruddy screen and missing features, we’ve rounded up 6 great models for you to consider.
Not all digital picture frames are equal. Cheap models have cheap display panels which means poor color reproduction, poor visibility, and a limited viewing angle. Others are bulky and ugly, which no one wants living on their wall or living room side table. Then there’s the issue of complicated controls and bad user interfaces. In particular, digital picture frames are great gifts for older relatives as you can easily share your photos with them that way, but it’s a useless gadget if they can’t figure it out. Here’s our look at the pick of the bunch that offer features like sharp screens, internet connectivity, and more.
Besides offering a high quality screen that ensures your images look clean and crisp on screen, its connectivity options are extensive. You can send your photos via email, utilizing the frame’s 4gb onboard memory, as well as the device’s dedicated email address. Alternatively, you can slot in an USB stick, SDHC or SDXC card. UPnP support is also an option, so you can stream content across from your networked PC or compatible NAS server. Over 20 online providers are available to use through the frame, allowing you to easily view pictures from web based albums. These include Picasa, Facebook, Flickr, PhotoBucket, and Instagram.
To complete the package, there’s always the choice of listening to web radio stations or plugging in your USB stick or SD card and listening to music directly through the frame. In each case, it’s simple to set up lending itself to the older user market perfectly.
The NIX Advance isn’t quite as feature rich as the Pix-Star but it does have one killer feature – a motion sensor. Through this facility, the frame will switch on every time you enter the room, switching back off the moment you leave. It’s a neat touch and that’s not all that works well for the NIX Advance.
Besides that, you can use it to view 720p HD video as well as photos, mixing the two together in slideshow form. There’s no dedicated email function, leaving you to use the frame’s USB or SD/SDHC ports, but it’s plug and play so it’s minimal hassle to get set up. There’s the addition of a clock and calendar function, enabling you to set your frame up to work during set hours, conserving power as well as the backlight lifespan. It also offers great viewing angles so you should enjoy high quality imagery, regardless of where you’re sitting.
If you’re willing to spend a little extra then the Nixplay Seed is a fantastic digital picture frame. It offers a 10 inch screen and has a features list that’s a sprinkling of a little bit of everything.
There’s a motion sensor ensuring it switches on and off when needed. 8GB of internal memory storage means you’ve got lots of room for content when offline, but it pairs that with 10GB of free and secure online cloud storage so there’s a plethora of space available for your images.
It’s quick and easy to access your favorite photos via Facebook, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr, and Google Photos, with smartphone app support streamlining the process further. Also, you can create dedicated playlists as well as get friends and family to share content, regardless of where they are. It’s pretty great at helping you feel connected at all times, although (given the price) it’s odd there’s no NAS/network file support.
One particularly great feature Nixplay has going for it is company longevity. The online features of internet-enabled picture frames usually rely on the host company keeping the lights on. If the company folds or stops offering support, you’re often left out in the cold. Nixplay has been making connected high quality frames for years (we reviewed and set up one of their frames way back in 2014 on How-To Geek).
A budget offering, the TENKER 7-inch HD Digital Photo Frame doesn’t offer every feature you might want, but it’s a great starting point at a good price.
It supports a 1024×600 screen along with 720p and partial 1080p HD video playback and while the screen quality isn’t perfect, it’s pretty respectable. Similarly, there’s no random slideshow feature which is an unusual omission, but auto-rotate at least makes it practical for those that want to change the orientation of their frame frequently.
Where the TENKER’s real strength lies is its ease of use. Just slot in an USB drive or SD card, and it diplays your photos or video files instantly. Just don’t expect any onboard storage, or Wi-Fi connectivity. This frame keeps things to the basics.
Another inexpensive choice, the Micca 8-inch Digital Photo Frame is similarly easy to use, like the TENKER frame. Being slightly bigger at 8-inches, you get a little more room to view your images which come via USB or SD card. Again, there’s no set up to speak of with plug n play paramount.
Besides playing photos, the Micca frame also utilizes any music on your storage media, playing it as background music while rotating through the images. A timer setting allows you to choose exactly when you want the frame to be active during the day. It’s a little more stylish than other budget frames too, and looks much more like a conventional picture frame rather than a budget tablet.
The Andoer 15 Inch TFT LED Digital Photo Frame is distinctly different from the others here, not least because it’s white rather than black. There’s also the pivotal fact that this frame is pretty big at 15 inches—putting it on par with a large laptop screen.
It doesn’t sport as high quality a screen as more expensive premium models (it’s only a TFT screen which is the kind of panel you’d expect in a budget computer monitor) and its remote looks pretty cheap, but it has a lot going for it. 1280×800 HD resolution gives it a fighting chance, and you can easily display photos or video files, as well as listen to music through the frame. In many ways, it’s almost like a mounted tablet, providing you with ebook, clock and calendar support too.
Crucially though, you’re buying this for its photo frame qualities. There’s no onboard media but it supports every physical storage media you could think of, and it’s very quick to set up. If you want to get straight to the point and simply have a picture frame, the Andoer does the job. If nothing else, the sheer size of it makes it a great pick for relatives with less-than-sharp vision.
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