Are Aura digital frames worth buying in 2021?
Aura digital frames are known to have some of the highest resolution displays on the premium frame market – but this enhancement comes at a price. As with all digital frames, each one has a focus area where they dominate most other frames on the market. When a frame dives too far into one area, it often leads to cuts having to be made in terms of features, ease of use, etc.
In Aura’s case, their displays are high resolution, though they are expensive for what they offer. For example, the Aura Smith boasts a 2K display but costs more than double what most other premium digital frames cost. They don’t offer much more than their sharp display and can be quite frustrating to use in the real world.
Perhaps the biggest drawback to the Aura frame’s high-resolution display is the 16:9 aspect ratio. Most of our smartphones capture pictures in 4:3. Frames like the Pix-Star know this and deliver their frames with a 4:3 display. Some point-and-shoot cameras shoot in 4:3, with many also shooting in 3:2 (even less friendly for 16:9 displays).
Since smartphones and cameras are where we take almost all of our pictures, this leads to a ton of issues for 16:9 displays. Unless you crop or manually edit every single 4:3 photo, they’re going to natively display with black pillar bars around their sides on the 16:9 display. This makes the display appear much smaller and significantly reduces the advantage of having such a high-resolution display.
This issue easily breaks immersion and makes you fully aware that you’re looking at a digital display. With frames that use 4:3 aspect ratio displays, pictures display using all the available screen real estate. It makes you feel like you’re looking at a real photo even though the frame’s resolution isn’t quite as high.
Another major issue with Aura digital frames is that they need to be connected to Wi-Fi at all times to work. Many of their frames don’t have offline capabilities and can only receive photos by connecting to the cloud to download them. It can get quite tricky for elderly users to get the hang of and limits what you can do with the frame.
For example, Pix-Star’s frames let you load photos by USB/SD card and start a slideshow directly from the inserted storage device. This only takes a couple of seconds and is super user-friendly. You also get extensive cloud and Wi-Fi features – but more on that below. In practice, Aura frames can be tricky to use for elderly users and are limited to good Wi-Fi connections and areas.
Not being able to start slideshows while the frame is offline can be a major drawback. Almost all other premium digital frames have offline functionality to make sure you always have a way to view your favorite photos. It’s also worth noting that these frames can’t play videos and don’t have any audio output. There’s also no remote control and you can only manually browse through slideshows by using the frame’s swipe control – meaning you need to be directly in front of the frame.
To sum it up, while Aura frames have very high-resolution displays, it’s rarely worth losing so much versatility and functionality – especially when the advantage of the high-res display is tugged on by the 16:9 aspect ratio. It’s not worth paying such a high price for frames that struggle to keep up with the rest of the premium frames in terms of features and robustness – even with their high-resolution displays. Learn more here about finding the best digital frames for your home & family in 2021.
How do Pix-Star frames compare with Aura digital frames?
Pix-Star’s frames are some of the most versatile and robustly featured frames on today’s market. While they don’t have quite as high-resolution displays as Aura digital frames, they quickly make up for it with their feature, elderly-friendly design, and ease of use.
You can remotely control a Pix-Star frame from anywhere in the world. You can use this feature to start & manage slideshows, manage local & cloud storage, adjust the frame’s settings (including brightness), and even update the firmware. It’s worth noting that Pix-Star’s displays use a 4:3 aspect ratio – making it a natural display for photos taken on cameras and smartphones (unlike the 16:9 displays for Aura digital frames).
Pix-Star’s frames are made to be quick and easy to use for elderly users. This shows in their simple menu design, intuitive mobile app, and easy-to-grasp web dashboard. You can link photos directly from social media and photo-sharing sites to your frame. All received photos from any source are saved to the frame’s internal and can be accessed at any time to start slideshows.
Unlike Aura digital frames, Pix-Star’s frames offer fine control over the play order and frequency of photos. Aura frames only let you play in chronological order or are randomly shuffled. Pix-Star’s frames let you choose specific folders and files to play slideshows from and give you several control options over the slideshow’s play order. You can even select to show newer photos more frequently or set the frame to ignore older photos completely. The frame can also be set to ignore photos that don’t cover a set percentage of the screen to avoid breaking immersion.
Are Aura digital frames too expensive?
Aura frames are some of the most expensive digital frames on the market. This is especially true for the Smith model which sits at around $400 – more than double most other premium digital frames. Not all of Aura’s frames are that expensive, but when you compare what they offer aside from their high-resolution display, it gets hard to find the value for money. Read here to learn about how to get great value from your next digital frame.
How to send pictures to Aura digital frames?
Aura digital frames can receive photos via their mobile app or through the web uploader. You can’t load photos to the frame by USB/SD card as it only works on the cloud. Note that all photos are saved only on the cloud and not directly on the frame. This means that you can’t play slideshows without being connected to Wi-Fi and your Aura cloud.
Do Aura digital frames play videos and audio?
Aura digital frames cannot play videos and have no audio output. Many other premium frames have inbuilt speakers or the ability to connect to external speakers/headphones. It’s a little surprising that the Aura frame with its high-resolution display can’t play videos when almost all other premium frames like the Pix-Star offer both audio and video playback support.