Time needed: 5 minutes.
In this guide, we break down how to find the best digital picture frame for your home, family, needs, or unique setup. We cover 6 steps that help you make the right choice and find the frame that performs best where you need it most.
You’ll learn about how to set the right budget for your needs, how to find a frame that suits your preferred photo-sharing habits, and cover concerns like video & audio playback, Wi-Fi & cloud connectivity, and where to place your frame. Let’s get started!
Set your budget
The first step in learning how to find the best digital picture frame for you or your family/home is to set the right budget. Here you need to decide whether you’re going to get a cheap, mid-range, or premium digital frame. We recommend getting a premium digital frame as the jump in performance, reliability, durability, and functionality is far more significant than the jump in price – especially if you go for frames like the Pix-Star that offer excellent value for money.
That being said, there’s no one-size-fits-all solution here. Cheap digital frames are generally offline frames and can only receive photos via USB/SD card. They don’t get updates and they’re usually plagued by the build quality and reliability issues. They usually have very small displays with low resolutions and aren’t suited to family use.
The mid-range of the market offers Wi-Fi connectivity in some cases, though the vast majority are offline. You get a bigger display (usually around 8-inches) with resolutions around 800×600. These frames offer more slideshows controls and adjustable settings, but sending/receiving photos is often lackluster. They seldom offer video support, cloud storage, mobile apps, web album support, etc. The main issue with mid-range frames is that they struggle to find their place on the market. They’re price close enough to premium frames that saving up a little longer for a better frame is almost a mindless transition.
Premium frames are where most of the value lies. You get Wi-Fi, cloud storage & synchronicity, video & audio support, ease of use, mobile apps & web interfaces, remote control functionality, and much more. Premium frames like the Pix-Star come as either a 10-inch or larger 15-inch version and are some of the most versatile frames on today’s market.
Premium frames are the best choices for families & elderly users as they can send & receive photos, videos, and audio messages from anywhere in the world. In some cases (as with the Pix-Star frame), you can remotely control & manage up to 25 connected frames via the web interface. Photos can be emailed; entire photo albums can be linked from social media, photo-sharing, and online storage platforms like Facebook, Google Drive & Google Photos, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr, and more.
Cheap digital frames usually range from US$30 up to around $70. Mid-range digital picture frames usually cost between $70 to $140. Premium digital picture frames start from around $150 (which is where Pix-Star’s most popular 10-inch frames in priced for optimal value for money) and go up from there. Some digital art frames with 20 to 30-inch displays can cost close to $1,000.
Note your photo-sharing preferences
The second essential step in learning how to find the best digital picture frame is to match your photo-sharing preferences with what the digital picture frame excels at. For example, if you never use USB/SD cards to send photos to your loved ones, getting a digital picture frame that’s offline (that only offers USB/SD card support) is less than ideal.
On the other hand, if you’re a big social media or photo-sharing platform user, finding a digital picture frame that lets you sync photos from Facebook, Google Photos, and Instagram can be a massive help in automating photo sharing for the whole family.
Low-end digital frames usually only accept USB/SD cards when receiving photos. They only support a small range of file formats and seldom offer much internal storage space for your photos. They also don’t allow you to play videos & audio files on the frame.
Some mid-range digital picture frames let you email photos to your frame, and some even offer computer software that lets you sync photos to your frame. There are almost always issues with their usability, so be wary when the claims made as too good for the price. Outdated software and slow interfaces can make these frames a nightmare to use.
Premium frames are where most of the magic happens. Here you can send photos, videos, and audio through a variety of methods. The best of these include email, sending through supported mobile apps, importing albums from social media, and via USB/SD card. You can send media to several frames at the same time from anywhere in the world.
For example, the Pix-Star Snap mobile app lets you send up to 250 photos to multiple frames at the same time from anywhere. You don’t need to create an account to use the app and photos can even be set to show in slideshows automatically as they’re received.
Find the right platform to shop for frames
Choosing the right platform to start your digital picture frame on can be a headache – especially when learning how to find the best digital picture frame. With many options like Amazon, Walmart, Bed Bath and Beyond, Target, Best Buy, etc., it’s hard to know which is the best for digital frames.
From our experience and countless reviews, Amazon is – by far – the best platform to shop at when looking for digital picture frames. They offer the largest selection of digital frames at various price points on the market. This is important because you want to get the best value for money – especially if you’re looking for a premium digital picture frame.
Amazon offers in-depth product descriptions and you can read through hundreds of Q&As about the frame’s features, real-world performance, durability, and more. You can even ask a new or unique question and have it answered by someone that knows the frame well or has experience using it.
Amazon is the most popular shopping platform for digital frames, and as a result, you have more reviews to read through. You can sort reviews by their star rating and whether they are “verified purchases” or not. This helps you to paint an accurate picture of how these frames truly perform and if they’re the right match for you.
Getting a digital frame for families & elderly users
Digital picture frames for individual users are often very different from those made for families or elderly users. Family-focused digital picture frames need to offer Wi-Fi, cloud storage, interconnectivity, multi-frame control groups, ease of use, mobile apps & web interfaces, and remote-control capabilities (to let you adjust settings and start slideshows from anywhere).
There are very few premium digital frames that offer all of these features – and offer them effectively. In some cases (as with Skylight & Nixplay’s digital picture frames), these features are offered – but are locked behind a subscription paywall. You have to pay the annual fee for the Nixplay Plus or Skylight Plus premium plan to gain access to all these features.
With an active subscription, these frames can be considered premium performers, likened to what you’d get for other competitors like Pix-Star. Without the premium plan, they’re nothing more than mid-range digital frames. When you factor in the long-term cost and total price (including the premium plan), these frames quickly lose in terms of value for money.
This is especially true when you consider that premium frames like the Pix-Star offer all the same features to a greater extent, without charging an extra cent of hidden or recurring fees (plus you get free-for-life cloud storage).
Pix-Star’s frames are one of the few premium frames that specifically cater to families & elderly users. This is seen through their robust feature sets, ease of use, remote control capabilities, free-for-life cloud storage, web album support, versatile slideshows, 8GB of internal storage, 4:3 aspect ratio, and immersive viewing experience.
Pix-Star’s frames are available in a bulk order (of 3 or 5 frames) too and are offered at discounted prices. You can manage up to 25 Pix-Star frames from a single user account – the perfect feature for families & elderly users that want to effortlessly connect & share their favorite moments & memories!
Wi-Fi vs offline: Which frame is right for you?
Typically, Wi-Fi frames are only found in the upper-midrange and premium end of the market. They tend to be quite a bit more expensive, though you get a massive jump in functionality for a comparatively small price hike.
These Wi-Fi digital picture frames are ideal for families and make photo-sharing and connecting with your loved ones far more effortless. Wi-Fi frames are the better choice for modern homes & families, and those with remote-control functionality are ideal for elderly users that aren’t very tech-savvy.
Offline frames are typically found in the budget to lower-mid-range of the market. They can only receive photos by USB/SD card. One of their common traits is a plug-and-play feature that lets you play slideshows directly off a connected USB/SD card. They don’t have much internal storage space and require the connected USB/SD card to be inserted at all times to view photos.
Unfortunately, this often means that you have little to no control over the play order & frequency of photos within slideshows – leading to less personalized and customized slideshows. These frames can be remotely controlled and often have very small displays.
They tend to feel very outdated with clunky and unrefined interfaces that aren’t very easy to use. While this isn’t the universal reality, it’s far more common than you’d expect.
They’re not ideal for families and are best used for the single user. That being said, even this niche is being taken over by affordable premium frames that offer more immersive and versatile viewing experiences to the individual – while adding modernity and the functionality you’d expect from a 2021 photo-sharing device.
Choose where you’ll place your frame
The final step when learning how to find the best digital picture frame is to decide where to place the frame. This has a couple of important considerations as it often dictates the size, brightness, and feature set of suitable frames.
For example, let’s say you’re looking for a digital frame for your living room. If it’s a brightly lit room, you need a frame with adjustable brightness and a max brightness of 250-300cd/m2. If it’s a large room, you want a frame that’s at least 10-inches (display size) and a viewing angle of at least 90-degrees that can be seen from across the room.
Another key consideration is whether the digital picture frame will be wall-mounted or not. Wall-mountable digital picture frames need to have a built-in wall-mounting setup such as support for using a standard VESA mount. These give a firm and robust mount with the ability to adjust and rotate the frame.
Some of the best digital picture frames like the Pix-Star offer support for using a standard VESA mount and dedicated hanging holes – along with an attachable stand. Pix-Star’s frames support landscape and portrait orientations too, both in their mounting system and software/features.
One final consideration is the use of touchscreens. We rarely recommend using a touchscreen digital picture frame due to its poor longevity and higher price tag. Touchscreen panels are significantly more expensive for display panels larger than 8-inches, which is why most touchscreen frames are 8-inches or smaller. They’re prone to be damaged by small knocks & falls, and the extra cost of the panel often needs to be recuperated from other areas of the frame’s feature set, build quality, or real-world performance.
The alternative to touchscreens is handheld remote controls. These are typically the better option when they’re well-made. It’s worth noting that the range of the remote should be more than 5-meters and it needs to be tactile and responsive.
Pix-Star’s frames have a fantastic remote that lets you adjust slideshows without having to exit them. Alternatively, you can remotely control any connected Pix-Star frames via the web dashboard from anywhere in the world – and all you need is Wi-Fi and a connected, online Pix-Star frame!
Now that you have a clear roadmap on how to find the best digital picture frame for you, your home, and your family, you’re ready to get searching. It might help to write out a couple of your most important features & needs to get you started.
If this is your first digital picture frame, there’s no need to rush. Take your time, make a shortlist of well-suited digital frames, and use our 6-step guide to weed out any frames that don’t have what it takes! Get started, enjoy your new digital picture frame, and connect & share life’s precious moments with the people you care about most.