HomeGift IdeasIs the Aura Frame at Costco Worth the Steep Payout?

Is the Aura Frame at Costco Worth the Steep Payout?


How does the Aura frame at Costco work?

The Aura frame at Costco is a premium digital frame with no internal storage and no USB/SD card support. To load photos to the Aura frame, you need to use Aura’s mobile app. Unfortunately, Aura’s frames don’t work without Wi-Fi.

Photos are synced to the frame on the go, directly from Aura’s servers. This leaves you little control over the play order and frequency of slideshows. It also means that if your frame loses its Wi-Fi connection (or Aura’s servers go offline for some reason), you won’t be able to use the frame.

Aura’s digital picture frames use high-resolution screens, which take up a lot of the frame’s “budget”. This comes at the cost of losing a lot of features like multi-frame control groups, importing photos directly from social media and photo-sharing sites, remote configuration, access to an intuitive web interface, and more.

When you consider Aura’s high price tag – compare this is the features it offers – there are several better value for money options on the market. Great alternatives include Pix-Star’s frame, the Dragon Touch, and even subscription-based frames like Nixplay and Skylight (though we don’t recommend buying subscription-based frames without careful research).

Can the Aura frame at Costco play video and audio?

The Aura frame at Costco is one of the only premium digital frames that can’t play audio and video files. Most other top frames like the Pix-Star, Dragon Touch, Nixplay, and Skylight offer video and audio playback –both Skylight and Nixplay charge a subscription fee to do so. Considering Aura’s high price tag, you’d expect at least some video & audio support.

Pix-Star’s frames let you play 2-minute video clips (compared to only 30-seconds with Dragon Touch), include them in slideshows, set them to play muted, play music and radio over slideshows, connect to external speakers & headphones, and more.

Videos can be sent to the Pix-Star frame via the Pix-Star mobile app directly from your phone’s gallery, or transferred to the frame by USB/SD card. Audio messages can be sent via the Pix-Star Snap mobile app, and music files need to be played from a connected USB/SD card (don’t copy them to internal storage).

How does the Aura frame at Costco compare with the Pix-Star?

Both the Aura frame from Costco and Pix-Star’s frames are high-end, well-built digital picture frames. In terms of screen resolution and pixel density, Aura’s frame is better than the Pix-Star. Pix-Star minimizes this loss by using a 4:3 aspect ratio (compared to Aura’s 16:9). It’s common to find complaints that pictures from smartphones and cameras are surrounded by black bars on Aura’s frames, but not on the Pix-Star. This is due to the aspect ratio.

In terms of photo-sharing and interconnectedness, Pix-Star’s frames are far better than Aura’s. Pix-Star’s frames offer free-for-life cloud storage, multi-frame control groups with up to 25 connected frames, video & audio playback, a great mobile app that lets you send up to 250 photos at the same time to multiple frames, and much more.

Pix-Star offers a robust feature set that Aura can’t compete with. Much of this is due to how much of the Aura frame’s cost goes into the display – leaving little room for photo-sharing and other features. Pix-Star’s frames offer features that Aura’s frames don’t (USB/SD card, video & audio, working while offline, etc.) while costing a lot less.

Can Costco’s Aura frame work without Wi-Fi?

Costco’s Aura frame is one of the few premium digital frames that cannot work offline. They don’t have internal storage or USB/SD card support, instead of relying on a constant connection to the Aura servers to sync and display photos. We don’t recommend buying frames that operate like this as there is far more risk involved.

If Wi-Fi goes down, or Aura’s servers are taken offline for some reason (we’ve seen this happen with some digital art frames in the past when the company tanked), you won’t be able to use the frame. It also means you need to be a little more tech-savvy and makes it a bit hard to get elderly users involved.

For comparison, Pix-Star’s digital frame – one of the most popular on the market – offers extensive offline functionality. They have 8GB of internal storage, don’t rely on a constant connection with the cloud, and support USB/SD cards. The connected USB/SD card isn’t restricted by maximum size – giving you virtually unlimited storage space. Pix-Star’s plug & play feature lets you play slideshows directly from the USB/SD card without having to copy anything to internal storage first. They’re great for families and elderly users that aren’t constantly connected to Wi-Fi – or that you don’t see too often!

Is the Aura frame at Costco a good choice for families?

While the Aura frame at Costco is a premium frame, this doesn’t mean that it’s automatically great for families or elderly users. There is a lot more that goes into a digital frame beyond screen resolution to make it versatile enough for the modern home & family. Display resolution isn’t even the most important feature to look for as it will often look just like a lower resolution display when viewed from across the room.

Aura’s digital frame (Aura Gallerie in this case) is missing several key family-focused features such as multi-frame control groups, robust remote configuration, they use a 16:9 aspect ratio (as opposed to 4:3), offer no video and audio support, and cannot work without Wi-Fi.

These missing features combine with Aura’s very high price tag to deliver a frame that offers little value for money – especially when compared to what competing frames like the Pix-Star offer (free-for-life cloud storage, importing from social media & photo-sharing sites, remote control functionality, multi-frame control groups, works great offline, and much more).

To summarize, Aura’s frames from Costco are not great choices for family or elderly users. While these frames have great display resolutions, that’s let down by missing key features for families, an awkward aspect ratio, and a frame that doesn’t “play” well with others. There are many other great family-focused digital frames like the Pix-Star, Nixplay, and Dragon Touch that offer better value for money while still delivering an immersive and memorable viewing experience!

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