A funny thing about picture frames is that as we get older, we tend to accumulate more of them. Seriously, look around your house and count how many framed pictures you have—chances are it's more than you had 10 years ago.
The good news is that modern technology can alleviate the clutter. Digital picture frames—like the best we tested, the Nixplay 10.1” Digital Picture Frame(available at Amazon for $174.00)—can replace their tactile cousins with ease, storing thousands of images in just one frame. The best part is that unlike a regular picture frame, the electronic versions can also play videos, so not only can you think back fondly on your memories, you can literally see them being played out on screen.
We spent two months researching and testing the best-selling digital picture frames on the market. If our top choice is out of your budget, the Bsimb 10" Wi-Fi Digital Picture Frame (available at Amazon) earned our Best Value award for serving up high quality images at a lower price point.
Here are the best digital pictures frames we tested, ranked in order:
Nixplay 10.1” Digital Picture Frame
Bsimb 10" Wi-Fi Digital Picture Frame
Aeezo 10" Digital Picture Frame
Aura Mason 9" Digital Picture Frame
Feelcare 10.1" Wi-Fi Digital Picture Frame
Aluratek 10" Digital Photo Frame
Brookstone PhotoShare 10” Digital Picture Frame
Pix-Star 10" Digital Photo Frame
Nixplay 10.1" Digital Picture Frame
The Nixplay digital picture frame is a dream to use. Images and videos appear sharp, vibrant, and realistic, while the interface is intuitive and certain design features are ingenious.
It sits with a bendable extension of the power cord instead of a stiff rod or stand, which means the frame’s viewing angle can be customized. Plus, that also means it’s effortless to adjust if you want to take advantage of the frame’s auto-rotate function between landscape and portrait mode.
Another design feature we like is the slick, compact remote. It has just enough buttons to not be overwhelming, it’s responsive from a good distance away, and it’s magnetic, so you can keep it tucked behind the frame and not worry about losing it. Yes, that means the frame isn’t touchscreen, but when you think about it, why would you want to leave fingerprint smudges on your beautiful LED screen anyway?
The frame also features a motion sensor to keep the frame from displaying to an empty room, and it integrates with Amazon or Google smart speakers.
Images are quick to load onto the frame, and once the slideshow turns on, those images are crisp and vibrant on screen. That’s no small task for a frame that solely depends on Wi-Fi to work; there is no way to physically upload content. Unlike most other frames, Nixplay users can also upload and display .HEIC files, aka iPhone photos. As for videos, we think movement comes across a little choppy and the audio is a tiny bit tinny, but the images themselves are still impressively clear.
Finally, the app and the frame are both user-friendly. It’s not an issue to upload photos through the app (or email, for that matter). The Nixplay app even includes integration with Google Photos, which is crucial for those who have more in the cloud than on their phone. Videos uploaded through the app are trimmed down to 15 seconds, unless you subscribe for Nixplay Plus (around $50 a year), which gives you a full minute, along with other ancillary bonuses like 50GB cloud storage and discounts on prints.
In all, the Nixplay digital photo frame is sharply designed, easy to use, and most importantly, it’ll make the images and videos you choose to display look great.
Out of the box, the most impressive thing about the Bsimb digital picture frame is its design. With a faux white matte surrounding the display, it actually looks like a classic picture frame. That’s symbolic of the product itself, because while it costs less than many electronic frames on the market, its features allow it to stand up to the big boys.
Images have surprising depth and vibrancy, on par with a frame that costs twice as much. And that isn’t even the best part of the display. Videos are incredibly sharp and sound clear, even when uploaded via email. The Bsimb video playback performed the best of all the frames we tested.
Users can upload content via microSD, the app, email, or social media. The app was simplistic and sparse, but that’s also not the worst thing, especially if you (or the people you’re giving it to) are not too into technology.
However, we are uneasy about its “binding” process. In order to transfer content over the internet, a guest has to “bind” themselves to the frame. That’s done by sending the frame’s ID to the frame’s email account with an email message, Facebook message, or Twitter message. After a minute or so, the user will have to accept the binding request on the frame, which will send a confirmation message back to the guest.
The whole process is complicated and, frankly, a little sketchy. We don’t feel comfortable logging into personal accounts to send messages back-and-forth with the frame—which has a Chinese .cn domain, something that may be unfamiliar to users. That email address isn’t customizable, either, so you’ll need to memorize a jumble of letters instead of having it be GrandmaSmith-at-bsimb.cn.
Don’t let that deter you from buying this product, though. The Bsimb is impressive for its price point. The display is top notch, and the app isn’t difficult to navigate. If all else fails, it’s even easier to just physically upload pictures and videos with a microSD card in the back.
Hey there, I’m Nick Bove, a product tester for Reviewed who has evaluated everything from laser levels to pressure washers. I have a lot of picture frames sitting around, which is not entirely surprising because my wife and I travel a lot, and we also have two adorable cats who must be displayed as often as possible.
I don’t own a digital picture frame myself, but last year I did buy one for my parents. Based on the process of buying and setting that up for them, I have a better idea of what to look for with these items.
We pulled out each frame individually, downloading each app, and using frames one at a time. We then set them all out side-by-side to compare the same images and test the same features. Each frame was put on a coffee table and a fireplace mantle to observe how the difference in height affected the viewing angle. We tested each item’s slideshow feature, cycling back-and-forth through photos with the touchscreen or remote, changing the frame’s orientation, and adjusting the screen’s brightness.
Uploads were divided into three waves, if possible. The first was a manual upload by flash drive or microSD with a batch of 50 photos and one 20-second .MP4 video. The second was five photos and a 15-second video sent via the frame’s app. The final wave was emailed to the frame with a final five photos and five-second video. Care was taken to send a mix of .JPG and .HEIC photos taken by phone and DSLR camera, in color and black-and-white, and in landscape and portrait orientations.
This is also a good time to mention that we didn’t include smart speakers that have screens in this test. While the Google Nest Hub, Amazon Echo Show, and Facebook Portal are fantastic at displaying photos, they offer something beyond that of a digital photo frame. You’re not going to ask the products we tested, “What’s the weather?” like you would other smart home technology.
What You Should Know About Digital Picture Frames
Digital photo frames are often gifted to family members, especially older ones who aren’t as tech savvy. One of the frames we tested doesn’t even try to hide that fact—it came preloaded with six sample images, and they were all of grandparents spending time with their grandchildren. So you’ll want to make sure whatever you buy is user-friendly for you and the people you’re giving it to.
Also consider what you want displayed on the frame. Including videos can be engaging, though you may want them muted. (We used a video of fireworks during testing, which was unsettling to hear every few minutes.) If you’re uploading a lot of iPhone photos, make sure the frame will play .HEIC files.
How Many Pictures Can a Digital Photo Frame Hold?
In terms of storage, most baseline digital frames have up to 16 GB of internal storage. That means a frame can store over 2,000 .JPG photos or up to two hours of .MP4 videos.
But not all frames need physical storage. Many consumers opt to play photos and videos from a flash drive or SD card plugged in the back. Advanced frames just stream those same files from the cloud, so make sure whichever one you choose has enough storage capacity for what you want to show.
Do Digital Picture Frames Need to Be Plugged In?
All of the frames we tested needed a power cord. Most, but not all, were plenty long enough, so consider the distance to an outlet in your home. Every frame has its own stand and most are wall-mountable with the addition of a wall mounting kit.
Other Digital Picture Frames We Tested
Aeezo 10" Digital Picture Frame
This frame came close to taking the top spot on this list, with image quality greater than almost every frame we tested. High resolution images look close to lifelike, while maintaining balance and depth, even in black-and-white. Videos show up clear and smooth, though the audio is a bit washed out.
This frame shares the Frameo app with some other competitors, though we don’t mind. The app itself is slick and simple to use, even for a tech novice.
Users can upload photos, but not videos, through the SD card slot in the back. The Frameo app can upload videos, but they’re limited to 15 seconds. Aeezo also doesn’t support .HEIC files.
Finally, the frame itself is pretty plain looking, and the integrated power plug/frame stand is fairly wobbly. It’s easy to tell it’s an electronic picture frame just by looking at it. These are some minor gripes, but enough to hold the Aeezo back from finishing atop the podium.
Since testing, all Aura frames have become equipped with video capabilities. New models will be ready out of the box and existing models that have already been purchased can perform a software update.
The display on the Aura Mason is drop-dead gorgeous, easily the most photo-realistic of the ones we tested. We’re willing to bet if you were to put it alongside other regular frames, most people wouldn’t even be able to tell it’s digital. Images are acutely detailed and the darks stunningly deep.
The frame almost looks like it’s molded out of clay instead of plastic, and it has some serious heft to it. Even the super long power cord is made of woven cotton instead of the typical PVC.
A nice touch: Gifters have the option of using a “gift mode” so they can upload photos for the recipient before the box is even opened for the first time.
All of that considerate design work is why it’s so heartbreaking that the user interface for this product is just so frustrating. The user is forced to work with the buggy Aura app, and there’s no manual uploading or emailing. The app crashed on me every time I used it, and I even had to restart the frame a couple times because it would lose connection with the app.
The frame doesn’t have a touchscreen, but it has touch bars on the top and side of the frame. To get through the slide show, swipe left or right, which is cumbersome if you want to get to a certain photo. Also, you can only make photo adjustments, like cropping, in the app or a computer browser, if you have the time or patience.
Finally, we think the biggest drawback is that the Aura Mason cannot play videos. While it fulfill’s the company’s goal of creating a “quiet, ambient display,” we think that eliminates half the purpose of a digital picture frame. On the bright side, Aura does incorporate Live Photos into their product, as it does use .HEIC.
This frame falls solidly in the middle of the pack in terms of design and function. Images are surprisingly sharp and colorful, while black-and-white photos have wonderful contrast and clarity. We like the use of the Frameo app, but it’s disappointing that there’s no way to email content to the frame.
Because it depends on the Frameo app, there isn’t really much inside the frame’s UI. Touching the photo on the screen will bring up a few buttons that can bring you back to the main gallery, and that’s about it.
If you want to change the settings, say to adjust the brightness, you’ll have to go digging. The good news is this product has auto-rotation, so if you want to change the orientation for a portrait photo, turn the frame on its side (just make sure to move the stand rod first).
More problematic is how the frame handles videos. Users can’t upload videos manually via the micro USB and microSD slots on the back, something the company says it’s hoping to update at some point. So the only way to get videos onto the frame is through the Frameo app, which limits videos to 15 seconds. But then again, videos appeared a bit choppy on this product, so maybe that’s something to stay away from anyway.
When we turned this frame on, a familiar sound emerged from the opening chime. We realized it is the exact same interface as the Bsimb frame that we named Best Value on this list. But even though it has the same software package, the internals on the Aluratek frame are unfortunately not as impressive.
Colors are well-balanced, but they aren’t too well defined, and dark colors have room for improvement. On the plus side, videos are clean and smooth, even if the audio isn’t.
Interestingly, we couldn’t find a way to change the orientation of the frame between landscape and portrait modes, which was frustrating. Also, videos don’t play within a slideshow—you need to navigate to the videos folder on the main screen.
The Aluratek app was tricky to use. When uploading content, the phone’s camera reel is the default option. If the images you want are in Google Photos, you’ll need to download them to your phone and then try to find the subdirectory for that in the app. On the other hand, it was very easy to upload from a flash drive behind the frame.
To send photos from an email, Facebook message, or Twitter message requires “binding” like the Bsimb, which we’re still uneasy about. At least this frame’s email address can be customized for easier sending.
If there’s one thing we came away with after using the Skylight, it’s that to get full use of the frame, you'll need to spend more money than you initially planned. The product itself has potential, but the user experience is severely lacking, unless you have deep pockets.
With a realistic-looking white matte surrounding the display, the frame is attractive. It’s also the only frame we tested with the option to connect to a 5 GHz Wi-Fi network. Every other frame connects to 2.4 GHz, which is plenty for a digital picture frame, but it’s nice to have the option for something even quicker.
Uploading material through the app or through email is a breeze. But that’s about where the simplicity ends.
We weren’t able to manually upload content through the USB port in the back, and the app had similar issues. Uploading photos isn’t a problem, but if you want to add videos or an entire album, that’ll cost you extra. Almost from the start of using this product, Skylight Plus is pushed on you. It’s $40 a year, or $4 a month, which feels exorbitant for a picture frame.
That membership gives you the ability to upload videos, add photo captions, remotely manage the frame, view the slideshow on your phone, and have unlimited cloud storage. All of those features are free on most of the other frames, so we’re left scratching our heads on why that’s an upcharge on Skylight.
As for the display quality, it’s pretty solid with color photos. Black-and-white photos are a bit duller in comparison.
The design of the frame looks great. It’s another matte-style product that wouldn’t look out of place among other tabletop frames.
It did feel precarious on its stand, however. The stand is L-shaped and the device rests on the bottom lip while leaning against the upright part of the stand. That makes it easier to pick up if you want to look closer at a photo or use the frame’s auto-rotation, but that also makes it easier to fall and get damaged.
The display itself is just OK. Color photos appear fairly balanced and deep, but black-and-white photos seem a bit washed out and blue-hued. It was also tough to get the display to get brighter. Videos are smooth, but not sharp, and the audio sounds distant since the speaker is well behind the fairly large edges of the frame.
We found the user experience to be a big issue. The PhotoShare app is hard to navigate if you’re looking for a specific item to upload (though thankfully emailing things is easy).
The interface on the frame itself is even more baffling. If an image appears pinched or off-center, it’s way too confusing to edit the photo or the display setting on the screen. And we found if you change the setting for one photo, it changes the setting for all the photos. When we were happy with how one picture looked on-screen, the next photo up would be all out of whack. It’s an exhausting experience.
If simplicity is the main thing you’re looking for in a digital picture frame, this is not the frame for you. It’s confusing, the display quality isn’t great, and it just feels like it’s trying to do way too much.
It’s the only frame we tested that doesn’t have an app. That being said, it is fairly easy to email content to the frame, or manage what’s on the frame, through an internet browser. It also accepts manual uploads, though the USB slot is on the side of the frame, so a flash drive will obnoxiously stick out and make portrait orientation impossible.
The device has way more applications than it needs. You can check the weather, listen to the radio, use it as a timer or calendar, and even play games like solitaire or sudoku. This is the biggest issue we have with the Pix-Star: There are way too many submenus. If you just want to watch a slideshow of pictures, you have to go digging through far too many applications and folders to make it happen.
The image quality of the display isn’t great either. Color photos aren’t that clear and black-and-white photos are washed out. Even worse yet, videos are difficult to deal with.
Of the three videos we tried to upload, only one played, and it was thoroughly pixelated with the audio distorted. The other two were the “incorrect dimensions” to play on the frame, which is curious because we didn’t have that issue with any of the other frames we tested.
We found it amusing that the six default photos included on the frame were all grandparents playing with their grandkids. Clearly they have a target audience in mind. Just make sure you go in and delete the default photos. They will play automatically with pictures of your friends and family.
Nick Bove is a journalist and broadcaster based out of Boston. He's currently a public address announcer at Boston University, Harvard, and Northeastern, and is breaking into the voiceover industry. He's also lent his voice as a professional hockey broadcaster and news anchor for NBC News Radio. When he isn't speaking into a microphone, he's probably on a long hike or daydreaming of being the next Bob Costas.
Our team is here for one purpose: to help you buy the best stuff and love what you own. Our writers, editors, and lab technicians obsess over the products we cover to make sure you're confident and satisfied. Have a different opinion about something we recommend? Email us and we'll compare notes.