Time needed: 5 minutes.
Learning how to buy a digital picture frame that’s just right for you, your family, and your home is the first step to truly connecting with your loved ones. With so many models and brands on the market, and so many places to buy a frame from, choosing the right one for you can be tough.
It’s important to find features that cater to your unique and specific needs if you want to get the best value for money possible. Here you’ll learn the practical steps to finding the perfect digital picture frame; including where to shop, what to look for, and some helpful tips and tricks to help you get it right the first time!
By the time we’re done here, you’ll be ready to start your search. Our tips and tricks will help you get better value for money and a frame that meets you where you’re at. Let’s dive in!
- Set Your Budget
For the vast majority of people learning how to buy a digital picture frame, the budget will be the most limiting and defining trait. After all, nobody likes wasting money, which is why you need to be very clear about how much you’re willing to spend on a digital picture frame that gives you what you need.
If you’re looking for a cheap digital picture frame, you’ll need to spend around $20 to $70. You might need to stretch this figure a little if you find a budget frame with unique features usually found on higher-end frames (like Wi-Fi or more internal storage).
For the mid-range, you’re looking at around $70 to $150. While you might find some high-end frames at the upper end of this range, they often compromise on some premium functions, which is why we’ve included them in the mid-range. This part of the market offers arguably the most versatile selection. You can find mid-range frames that seem a world apart but within the same budget. That’s why you need to combine all the steps here to thin down the herd and make choosing the right digital picture frame easier.
The premium digital picture frame budget starts at around $150 and can reach close to $1,000. That being said, most of the top-selling premium frames sit in the $150 to $300 range. The outliers are specialist frames with very high-resolution screens for artists and photographers.
Now that we have our budget set, let’s take a look at where to shop to get the best value for money.
- Decide Where You Want to Shop
A big part of learning how to buy a digital picture frame is knowing what you want to do with it. We’re going to assume you’re shopping online as that’s almost always the case with digital picture frames. This isn’t a bad thing either as sites like Amazon have thousands of reviews and answers to almost any question you’d have about a product.
On that note, Amazon is arguably the best place to shop for a digital picture frame. You have the widest selection (far more than Walmart, Bed Bath & Beyond, Target, etc.) and there tend to be more thorough descriptions and product information.
You can read through hundreds of “verified purchase” reviews from people that have used the frame. There are 5 different star ratings to give you a more complete picture of how the frameworks in the real world. You can also read through tons of questions & answers about the frame or even ask a question that you haven’t seen asked yet.
Amazon has a generous return and refund policy, taking a lot of the risk off of you. Through the combination of a broad digital picture frame selection, in-depth information & reviews, and good customer service – it’s a great place to shop for your next digital picture frame.
- Choose Where You’ll Place the Frame
The main choice here is between a wall-mounting and a surface-rested digital picture frame. It’s worth noting ahead of time where the frame will go as it influences which frames you can and can’t choose.
Wall-mounted digital picture frames need a standard VESA mount (preferred) or hanging holes. This is much more common with mid-high-end frames but isn’t commonly found in the budget range. Wall-mounted digital picture frames typically need to have bigger screens (8” and up) and are usually Wi-Fi capable.
Tabletop digital picture frames usually have an attachable stand. In some cases (as with the Pix-Star), the frame can be both wall-mounted and rested on a flat surface. These frames typically need a broader viewing angle and don’t always need Wi-Fi or cloud capabilities – though they usually do at the mid-high-end.
- Write Down Important Features You’d Need
Knowing exactly what you need is arguably the most important step in learning how to buy a digital picture frame. Take a few minutes to write down 5-10 important features and functions you’d want from a digital picture frame. Bear in mind you might not be able to find all of them, but it’s a great metric to help thin out the herd and find the frames that best match your needs.
Here are some common features to choose from:
• Wi-Fi & cloud vs offline frames
• Mobile app and/or web interface
• Size of internal storage
• Video and audio playback & support
• View photos from social media and photo-sharing sites (web albums from Facebook, Instagram, etc.)
• Touchscreen vs handheld remote controller
• Grandparent friendly
• Controlling the frame remotely from anywhere in the world
• Display size, resolution, aspect ratio, viewing distance, and viewing angle
• Aesthetics & Design
• Wall-mounting vs tabletop frames
• Additional features like viewing the weather and listing to the radio
This is just a list to get you started. You should think about features that suit your home, your family, and your needs. If you’re completely new to the digital picture frame market, the above list is a great place to start.
- Think About Cloud Storage and Wi-Fi Connectivity
This is a feature that’s usually only found in the upper-mid-range and high-end digital picture frame market. Frame like the Pix-Star feature both extensive Wi-Fi capabilities and free-for-life cloud storage. Other top frames offer cloud storage but require an active subscription (recurring fee).
Wi-Fi and cloud capabilities let you send photos and other media to your frame from anywhere in the world. They enable mobile apps and web interface, and handy features like sending pictures to the frame via email.
Cloud storage lets you link your frame to your social media and photo-sharing accounts to view selected photo albums. This isn’t a very common feature but can make sharing photos with everybody in the family smooth and effortless.
It’s worth noting that these Wi-Fi and cloud-capable digital picture frames are more expensive – but they offer a lot more versatility and functionality than you’re paying extra for.
- Read the Reviews and Q&As
Once you’ve found a couple of digital picture frames that caught your attention – do your research. If you’re shopping on Amazon, make sure to read through as many reviews and Q&As as you can handle. This will help you paint an accurate picture of the frame’s real-world performance.
Read reviews from different star ratings, paying special attention to 2,3, and 4-star ratings as they tend to be more balanced. Lower ratings can point out major issues and quality control problems – and give you a good idea of how efficient customer support is.
Take some time to go through the Q&A section. Here you’ll find practical information about performance, usage, features, quality, and more.
- Check the Return Policy
This is essential when buying a digital picture frame online. Make sure you read the fine print about the refund and return policy. Amazon generally has gracious policies, but it’s still worth checking the individual frame’s manufacturer’s policy just to be sure. When the frame arrives, try to preserve the original packaging and accessories in case you need to return it.
- Testing, Testing, and More Testing
Test all the features of the digital picture frame when it arrives. Make sure everything is in working order. Try using all the sending and receiving methods, test the mobile app/web interface, etc. Leave nothing untested while you’re still within the 30-day (depending on the return policy) return period.
Some issues might come up over time, so make sure to keep the warranty information handy. This is another reason why reading through as many reviews as possible is essential.
- Enjoy a Lifetime Full of Memories!
Now that you’ve chosen the best digital picture frame for your home, you can enjoy an effortless and efficient way to share memories with your loved ones. Take some time to get used to the frame’s features and to find what works best for you. Join the community and forums to learn more about coming updates, tips & tricks, and to get to know your frame better!