The Amazon Echo digital picture frame isn’t designed primarily as a digital frame. It’s designed as a smart hub that links with Alexa and the Amazon smart speaker. The digital picture frame functionality is a bonus added specifically to the Amazon Echo Show models. They come in 3-sizes; 5.5-inch, 8-inch, and a 10.1-inch model (probably the better choice for using as a digital picture frame).
It uses a 1240×800 resolution display with a rather awkward 16:9 or 16:10 aspect ratio. The biggest issue here is photo cropping. If you choose to set all photos to fill the screen, it leads to images being cropped. If they aren’t set to fill the screen, there are usually black pillar boxes around the side of each photo. This is because most photos we take with our phones and camera use a 4:3 aspect ratio.
Slideshows are very limited in terms of their customizability. Slideshows move according to 3-speed settings (2s, 6s, and 10s). You don’t have much control over the play order of the photos and can only load them to Amazon Photos to view them on the Amazon Echo.
You can’t directly link to social media and photo-sharing platforms as you can with many of the top digital picture frames. There is also no option to load photos via USB/SD card as everything works through the Amazon cloud.
The Amazon Echo frame also uses a touchscreen – something not usually recommended for digital frames. This, combined with the glossy screen, makes fingerprints obvious. You’ll find that they reflect light differently and make the screen difficult to view at an angle. A touchscreen is more expensive and less durable; they’re more prone to scratching and taking damage from small knocks and falls.
In terms of usability and elderly-friendliness, the Amazon Echo digital picture frame doesn’t do great. The menus are a little confusing and the settings that let you use the Echo like a digital picture frame are spread across several locations and screen. Elderly users will struggle to start slideshows and features like multi-frame control and remote control are tricky to get used to.
The Amazon Echo Show in particular can be used as a digital picture frame. That being said, there are quite a few limitations on what they can display and how it appears. There are 2 ways to use an Amazon Echo as a digital picture frame.
The first is to use the “Wallpaper” mode. This lets you choose which pictures you’d like to display as the background wallpaper. You can load photos that are chosen via Amazon Photos – though you need to be an Amazon Prime member to have free access. You are limited to 1-minute intervals between pictures and this wallpaper mode can only be started via voice commands. Note that the wallpaper mode often has a clock, time, and Alexa tips overlayed on the photo.
The second way is through the “Slideshow” option. This option lets you start a slideshow with selected folders and albums from your Amazon Photos collection. You only have 3-speed settings to choose from (2, 6, and 10-second intervals) which is very fast compared to most digital picture frames.
While these methods are very limited in terms of how they can receive and display selected photos, it does offer basic digital picture frame functionality along with everything else the Amazon Echo digital picture frame offers.
The Pix-Star frame is one of the best dedicated digital picture frames on the market. The first and most notable improvement over the Amazon Echo digital picture frame is the 4:3 aspect ratio. Your photos won’t be cropped nearly as often and you won’t need to worry about them being surrounded by black pillar bars.
It’s far easier to send photos to the Pix-Star frame, and you aren’t limited to cloud-only methods as with the Amazon Echo. You can send photos directly to the frame via email, mobile app, web interface, and can even link the frame directly to social media and photo-sharing accounts. Additionally, you can load photos to the frame’s internal storage from USB/SD cards.
Slideshows are much easier to start on the Pix-Star frame than with the Amazon Echo digital picture frame. You can start a slideshow that includes all photos on the frame with just one click from the main menu. You have far more control over what to include in slideshows and have greater control over the playback order, transition speeds, and slideshow styles.
Pix-Star’s frames also offer multimedia support that lets you play videos with/without their accompanying sound. The menus are intuitive and easy to navigate with the remote control, and you can change almost any setting remotely via the web interface. You can adjust the display’s color and brightness settings easily and all the slideshow-related settings are easy to find and adjust.
If you need a digital picture frame, the Pix-Star is hard to beat. It’s great for a large family and is very elderly-friendly. These frames quickly become an important part of how you connect with your loved ones and your family life.
You can’t include video clips into photo slideshows, but the Amazon Echo frame lets you make video calls and play shows from selected streaming platforms. That being said, the resolution isn’t very high and you’ll often find that video calls are much clearer with WhatsApp and other related apps. The camera is also a little offset from the center, putting you on the side of the frame during video calls, and forcing you to view the screen from an angle (can be annoying as the screen is glossy and quite reflective).
This is one of the biggest issues with using the Amazon Echo as a digital frame. The only way to receive photos of the frames is via the cloud through Amazon Photos. Since there is no USB/SD card support, there is no way to load photos to the Amazon Echo without a decent Wi-Fi connection.
Many premium frames like the Pix-Star have extensive offline capabilities that let you start and view slideshows while offline. They use a combination of internal storage (8GB in the Pix-Star) and USB/SD card support to let you transfer and view photos without being connected to an active Wi-Fi network.