This smart photo frame could bring people together during social distancing
Easily share pics and videos with Nixplay smart picture frames
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In light of the coronavirus epidemic, we’re all trying to find new ways to reach out and stay in touch with our loved ones. With social media and the internet, staying connected is now easier than ever.
But what do you do if your loved ones don’t have smartphones, avoid social media, or live in an area with limited internet access?
I’ve heard many stories of millennials who want to share pictures of their life achievements and growing families with their older relatives, but are hamstrung by grandma or grandpa’s lack of online presence. This is where Nixplay comes in.
Nixplay makes a series of wi-fi enabled digital picture frames. These are not the digital picture frames of the past that required you to upload photos to the frame itself; by downloading the Nixplay app, you can send pictures and videos to any Nixplay frame, as long as the frame is connected to a wi-fi network or hotspot. This technology represents a real game-changer when it comes to keeping the internet-averse in the loop.
I got the chance to try out the 10.1-inch Nixplay W10F-HD smart photo frame. Even better, an older relative of mine was recently gifted one of these smart picture frames, so I was able to gain some insight into how people actually use these picture frames on a daily basis.
How does Nixplay work?
Like most wireless devices, to get the Nixplay smart photo frame up and running, you have to create a Nixplay account, connect the frame to a wi-fi network, install a couple of updates, and then pair the device to your new Nixplay account.
There are a few different Nixplay pricing options. With the Nixplay Standard package, you get 10 GB (or about 2000 photos) of storage for free. These photos and videos can be shared between up to five different Nixplay frames. If you need more data storage, or want to manage more than five Nixplay frames from your account, you’ll need to upgrade to the Nixplay Plus package, which offers 30 GB of cloud storage for $1.99 per month or $19.90 annually. There are additional options for up to 1 TB of cloud storage.
Once you’ve settled on the amount of storage you need, you can start adding pictures to your Nixplay frame. From your phone, it’s easy to add, remove, and rearrange the pictures and videos uploaded to your Nixplay account. After the photos have been uploaded to the cloud, a little notification pops up in the Nixplay picture frame screen that tells you that some new photos have arrived (which is a nice touch that will definitely get those using the picture frame excited). Beyond uploading or removing photos, it’s pretty much set-it-and-forget-it from there.
The best part, though, is that it’s very easy for other friends and family to upload photos to your Nixplay frames; all they have to do is create their own Nixplay account, send a friend request to your admin account for a given Nixplay frame, and start uploading pics. Pulling in photos from social media is also a breeze—by adding your account information from Facebook, Google, Instagram, Dropbox, Flickr, or Verizon, you can easily import whatever photos you want and add them to the Nixplay’s playlist. If your friends don't want to create a Nixplay account, they can just email photos directly to the Nixplay frame.
These tasks are pretty straightforward to those used to dealing with this kind of gadgetry, but it might be problematic for those who don’t have a lot of tech know-how. If you’re getting the Nixplay with an older relative or tech minimalist in mind, I recommend doing the setup and photo uploads before handing the frame off to its new owner.
What we like about the Nixplay smart picture frame
There is so much to love about the Nixplay frames. It is clear that a lot of thought went into the tech, features, and design of each frame. There are a veritable cornucopia of photo display options and settings that you can adjust, including the time each photo is displayed, the pattern in which the photos play, whether the frame focuses showcasing only the most recently uploaded photos, the type and time duration of the transition from one photo to the next, and so much more. Even better, while the high-quality screen in the picture frame does a great job of showcasing the photos and videos, you can apply different filters to the screen to create a different aesthetic. If you're giving a Nixplay frame to more tech-savvy folks, this smart picture frame can also be controlled via Amazon Alexa.
Some other really helpful features include a remote control, sleep scheduling, the ability to connect via a public wi-fi hotspot, and the motion sensor. In my experience, these features are what really allow the Nixplay to fit into the user’s everyday life. When I was at my relative’s house, the Nixplay was set to continuously cycle through the available photos as long as the frame was plugged in. I wouldn’t recommend this setting for most people for one simple reason: if each picture was displayed for 10 seconds, and you had 600 pictures uploaded to the playlist showing on that Nixplay frame, then you’ll start seeing the same pictures again every 100 minutes. Imagine doing an all-day Netflix binge in that scenario; over the span of 6 hours, you could see the same photo three or four times.
Here’s where sleep scheduling and the motion sensor come into play: if you activate either of these options, the frame shuts off automatically either at a specific time or if the motion sensor isn’t triggered, allowing the user to sample the photos in bits and pieces, rather than getting sick to death of a given photo in a few days. Furthermore, this will save you from the heart palpitations I experienced when I heard videos playing on the Nixplay at odd hours of the day and night, which convinced me we were about to be robbed or haunted by ghosts.
If you’re considering a Nixplay for an older relative who doesn’t have a wi-fi network in their home, then the ability to set up and run the Nixplay via a public wi-fi hotspot (if one is available nearby) is a real boon. There are also security features that you can engage in this setting that will make this option as private as possible.
The Nixplay frames are very cleverly designed. Some of the frames can be wall-mounted or freestanding, while others are only freestanding. However, the bendable post at the back of the picture frame, which doubles as the charging port, means that it can sit stably on a variety of surfaces.
What we don’t like about the Nixplay smart picture frame
During my time with the Nixplay frame, I ran into a few issues. Originally, I experienced some confusion when photos I uploaded to a given album did not show up on the Nixplay frame. As it turns out, albums are where you store the photos you upload, but the Nixplay frame only displays photos that are in the playlists. You can either upload photos directly to a playlist or to an album, or you can move photos from an album to a playlist. This makes sense in retrospect; with multiple people funneling photos into a single smart picture frame, this gives people the option to share and download photos amongst themselves without tweaking the Nixplay’s current playlist.
One minor complaint I have is that, from your smartphone, there’s no easy way to add photos to a Nixplay playlist or album in bulk. On my iPhone, I had to tap each photo one-by-one to select it and add it to Nixplay’s cloud storage. On a computer, it’s very easy to add an entire folder of photos to your Nixplay account, but in my experience, it couldn’t be done on a smartphone. If you’re going to be adding photos piecemeal, then the smartphone app is fine, but for bigger photo projects, I’d recommend logging in online from a computer and doing it there.
For iPhone users, just a heads up: some of the photos on my iPhone are .HEIC files that had filters applied or that had been otherwise altered. It took a couple of tries for me to actually upload the .HEIC files (they had to be uploaded separately in smaller batches with other .HEIC files, and not mixed with the other JPEG or PNG files I was batch uploading). While I’ve had success with other photo formats, Nixplay says that the uploaded photos should be JPEGs.
Lastly, if you can, do your best to ensure that most of the photos you upload to the Nixplay cloud storage are in either landscape or portrait orientation, and then position the Nixplay frame in the same orientation. The Nixplay frame can easily display both portrait and landscape photos, but depending on how the frame is positioned, it shrinks the photos in the opposite orientation to make them fit on the screen.
Again, these are small problems that do little to diminish the overall amazing experience of having a Nixplay smart photo frame.
Should you get a Nixplay smart photo frame?
Yes, especially if you have friends and relatives that don’t want to engage with social media or the internet, or if you’re just trying to connect with people in the age of social distancing. With a couple hours of setup, you can easily share new photos with loved ones, even when you can’t be there in person.
Prices were accurate at the time this article was published but may change over time.