Best Digital Photo Frames
It may seem a little odd that I'm writing a review of the best digital photo frames on a site like this. Shotkit's all about photography and photography gear, so why would I spend a month researching what digital picture frames you should buy?!
To tell the truth, with this post I'm actually scratching my own itch. I simply wanted to find the best way to display my favourite photos at home.
I've got thousands of photos gathering virtual dust on hard drives. I don't own a photo printer, and I prefer to use my TV to watch Netflix than to display slideshows…
A month ago I realised that the best way for me to display my photos in the house was with a digital picture frame. I also discovered that these devices make excellent gifts for grandparents!
Here's what I found when reviewing the best frames available this year.
Best Digital Photo Frames of 2020
|Nixplay W10B Seed||View Price →|
|Pix-Star||View Price →|
|NIX Advance||View Price →|
|Nixplay Original||View Price →|
|Micca Widescreen||View Price →|
Digital photo frames have been around for years. You often see them reduced in bargain bins at superstores, so they've lost a lot of their appeal here in 2020.
Despite this, there's still really no more affordable way to display photos in your house than with a digital photo frame.
Some choose to stream their photos to a TV using a device like the Apple TV, or re-purpose an old iPad to display photos, but both these methods assume you already have these devices, and obviously prevent you using the devices for anything else at the same time.
If you're looking for a simple, affordable way to display an automatic slideshow of your images at home, they're still hard to beat. Using WiFi to transfer photos to the frame, even from other countries, is an incredible feature that makes it easier than ever to share your latest pics with loved ones.
As I mentioned before, they also make excellent gifts, particularly for grandparents or the tech-un-savvy! I'd recommend loading images on a USB stick (or adding them to a Cloud folder if your frame has WiFi) before gifting the device – then all the recipient has to do is plug it in to enjoy the slideshow you've created.
Digital Picture Frames Reviewed
All the best digital picture frames reviewed below have met the criteria of being: 1) affordable; 2) a resolution of at least 1024×768 pixels; 3) 4:3 aspect ratio; 4) Simple to operate.
In the case of the Pix-Star, the 10″ model only supports 800×600 resolution, but since the Pix-Star excels in so many other categories, I chose to include the 15″ model in the review too (which has a 1064×768 resolution).
After a month of testing, these were my favourite digital picture frames:
Best Value for Money Digital Photo Frame
Dimensions: 0.4 x 7.6 x 5.5″ (1 x 193.04 x 139.7 mm)
Weight: 331.69 g (0.73 lb / 11.7 oz)
Available in 6 different sizes (8″, 8″ widescreen, 10″ widescreen, 12″, 15″. 17.3″) with other sizes coming soon, the NIX Advance is our top pick of the best digital picture frames under $100.
Let's get this out of the way straight off the bat – if you're looking for a digital picture frame with Wifi, you should skip this product and move on down to the next one. Part of the reason for the NIX Advance‘s affordable pricing is that it doesn't include the ability to transfer images and video over Wifi – it's a traditional ‘plug-and-play' type digital frame.
Do you need Wifi in your digital picture frame? Well, I'm not actually convinced everyone does. Sure, it's nice to be able to transfer your content wirelessly, (instead of plugging in a USB stick or SD card), but for some people like the elderly or other technophobes, Wifi isn't actually necessary.
My grandma for example doesn't even know how to spell Wifi, let alone use it! For someone like her, I'd much rather I give her something physical to plug into the digital photo frame.
On her birthday, it's easy for me to post her a cheap USB stick filled with new photos of our family, which she can just plug right into the NIX Advance to start viewing them straight away.
With a Wifi frame, transferring images wirelessly to the frame is a great touch, but you still need to log in to your home Wifi network – getting my grandma to do that successfully isn't as easy as it sounds!
Also, for those rare times she uses a digital compact camera, she's able to plug the SD card right into the frame to view the images as a slide show.
So, if you agree with me that Wifi is nice but not essential on a digital photo frame, let's go on to see what's so good about the NIX Advance…
First off, it comes with an 8GB USB stick. If you're giving the NIX Advance as a gift, you'll need to carefully open the box up to be able to load some images onto the free stick, but this isn't too much of an issue.
It's nice as a gift-giver to be able to load some images onto the NIX Advance‘s included USB stick, customising the gift for your recipient.
While you're checking out the pricing, you may have noticed that this particular frame has over 3,800 positive reviews – many of which are 5 stars! It's nice to know that so many people share my opinion that this is the best digital photo frame currently available.
The 4:3 aspect ratio is perfect for smart phone photos, micro-four thirds camera photos, and some medium format cameras too. If your images are from a camera with a 3:2 aspect ratio (e.g. DSLR and mirrorless cameras like these ones), the frame will show unobtrusive black borders above and below the images.
Images look bright and vibrant, with good saturation and detail retention. The High Resolution LED back-lit display on the NIX Advance offers a wide viewing angle, meaning you can enjoy your photos from all across your room.
Using something called the HU Motion Sensor, the NIX Advance is able to turn the screen on or off, depending on whether it senses recent movement (between 5-60 mins).
Whether or not this would save much on your electricity bills is arguable, but I kind of like the fact that the screen isn't constantly on, rotating photos to an empty room, which seems a little odd to me! It also means you don't need to think about turning the frame off when you go on holiday.
If you're looking for a digital photo frame with super-simple operation, the NIX Advance is perfect – you just plug in the power cable, then insert a USB stick or SD card and the images/videos start displaying in a looping slideshow immediately.
If you want to display the date/time, alter the brightness/contrast/saturation/hue, rotate the screen, change slideshow transitions/intervals/orders, or the screen mode, you can use the buttons on the back of the frame, or the included remote control.
If you want to display the date/time as a small overlay next to your photos, you'll need to set this up after plugging in the NIX Advance, but otherwise, there's no real need to dig into the settings at all.
The calendar function is actually a really nice touch, making the digital photo frame more than just something to show off your holiday snaps. If you flip the frame into portrait mode, the screen automatically adjusts the content to suit.
One great feature not necessarily unique to the NIX Advance, but still very well implemented, is the ability to view HD videos and photos in the same slide show. Videos need to be in MPEG-4, the format that most cameras and smart phones record in natively.
The build quality of the NIX Advance is very good, and the buttons on the frame and on the remote feel good to touch. There's also a 1 year parts and labour warranty, should anything go wrong.
Obviously, since the digital photo frames are usually kept in one place all the time, they don't need to be particularly robust, but the NIX Advance does feel like it'd survive an accidental fall or two.
When viewing videos, you can choose to have the sound on or off – the NIX Advance has built in Stereo Speakers, but obviously the sound quality and volume is rather limited. I'm not sure many people would want their digital picture frame to suddenly start playing sounds, but it's nice to know it's there if needed.
All in all, the NIX Advance is a high quality, easy to use digital picture frame at a very competitive price. I love the simplicity in operation, and highly recommend it as a gift, in your own home as a way to display your recent photos if you don't want to deal with WiFi.
Best 10 Inch Digital Photo Frame
Dimensions: 10.2 x 1 x 6.7″ (259.08 x 25.4 x 170.18 mm)
Weight: 480.81 g (1.06 lb / 16.96 oz)
The main difference between the Nixplay Seed and the aforementioned NIX Advance is the inclusion of WiFi, giving you the ability to update its contents from anywhere in the world.
If you're the kind of person who needs the very latest gadgetry, or you're buying a gift for someone who knows how to use tech like Amazon Alexa, smart phone apps and Cloud Storage, the Nixplay Seed is the digital photo frame for you!
Even though I recommend the NIX Advance for those who don't care for, or understand Wifi, the Nixplay Seed is actually my pick of the best digital photo frame for everyone else.
It's worth noting that there are a couple of other products in the Nix range that offer all the same Wifi functionality of the Seed – one called the Nixplay Edge which also offers SD/USB input, but in my opinion it's not as good looking as the Seed.
Then there's the Nixplay Iris, which features a rather tacky ‘faux-frame' which in my opinion looks awful, and also has a higher price than the Seed.
Let's start with the bad news – having WiFi functionality comes at a premium – the Nixplay Seed is currently about $100 more than its analogue counterpart (check pricing here)… but for that extra cash, you get SO much more functionality :-)
I won't go into too much detail regarding the basic functionality and operations of the Nixplay Seed, since it's basically the same as the Advance.
All you need to know is that photos and videos look beautiful on the Seed, and the device itself looks and feels great too – I especially like the stand, which transitions into the cable that actually powers the device:
The build quality of the Nixplay Seed is excellent, and actually feels more ‘premium' than the Advance. The buttons on the frame and on the remote feel good to touch, and there's a 1 year parts and labour warranty, should anything go wrong.
Ah, and one more awesome thing about this digital picture frame – every time someone purchases the Nixplay Seed, one seed gets planted by Trees for the Future, in their generous ‘Seed for a Seed' initiative.
By donating trees, their goal is to provide sustainable resources to poor families to help them to feed themselves and restore biodiversity where they live.
Let's concentrate now on what you're getting for that extra investment of your money with this awesome WiFi photo frame.
You'll notice the Nixplay Seed doesn't actually have an slots on the rear to insert physical storage devices like SD cards or USB sticks. Instead, you have a variety of options to get your multimedia content onto the frame:
1. Via the Nixplay App
Using the free iOS/Android Nixplay App, you can share your photos instantly to any frame, anywhere in the world! You can send any photos (and 15 seconds of video) already on your smart phone, or new photos you take everyday.
There's even the ability to add captions to photos, which appear on the photo when it appears on the recipient's frame. You can also invite your friends and family to download the app, then grant them permission to send pictures/videos to the frame.
2. Via Social Media/Cloud Storage
You can access your favourite photos on Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, Picassa, Dropbox and Google Photos, and put them in Playlists to have them display on the frame. The drag and drop interface is easy to use, and actually quite fun – see below:
3. Via email
Next time you email a photo to someone who owns the frame, just enter their unique Nixplay email address to have that same photo appear on the frame. Anyone who has the email address can send new photos to the frame – you need to view, manage and adjust the playlist settings of these photos sent from your friends.
4. Via Nixplay Cloud
You can upload your photos directly to the Nixplay Cloud app for the optimum viewing quality. When they're in albums, you can set up Playlists to be played on the Nixplay Seed. The video below gives a good preview of how this functions:
Whatever method you choose to send new photos and videos to the Nixplay Seed, the recipient will be alerted via the frame's screen, turning light blue and showing a “Hello, you have a new picture!” alert, which dissolves after a few seconds – I'd actually prefer for the notification to stay there until dismissed manually.
One thing I love about the Nixplay Seed is the ability to configure all the options via the Nixplay Cloud, which basically mirrors all the settings within the frame's menu itself.
This means that even if you're giving the frame to someone who's not comfortable with tech goods, you can set everything up for them in advance (they still have to configure the frame initially to connect to their home WiFi though).
If you own multiple frames, or have gifted multiple frames to friends and family, you can choose to control up to 5 of them via your one Nixplay Cloud login. That way you can create various playlists for each respective frame, then drag and drop your photos onto the playlists to be sent to the respective recipients.
Being able to transfer photos to the Nixplay Seed even from other countries is simply amazing, and can take a lot of the friction out of sharing the most recent photos to your loved ones.
Since there's no physical (non WiFi) way of adding new images and videos to the Nixplay Seed , you're given 10GB of free Cloud storage, as well as 8GB of internal memory storage (for when the Seed is offline). Depending on the size of your media, 18GB of combined storage is roughly 50,000 photos.
If you find you're running out of space, there's also the ability to increase storage with one of the Nixplay subscription plans, but I don't think this will be necessary for most.
One unique feature to the Nixplay Seed is the ability to connect it to any Alexa-enabled device, and simply ask Alexa to display any of your playlist to any Nixplay frame, where ever the frame is!
All in all, I absolutely love the Nixplay Seed. Being able to share photos that I take of my kids using my mobile phone, then in a few taps have them load on my parents in laws' frames (in different countries!) in a few seconds is incredible.
The Nixplay web app is great for more granular control when you're at your desktop computer, but I found myself hardly using it after the initial set up.
The beauty of the Nixplay Seed is being able to have your most recent photos appear instantly on a frame, whether that frame's in your living room, or in the living room of your family another country!
If you have the budget for the Nixplay Seed, and if you're thinking of gifting it to a recipient who's able to do the initial WiFi network connection themselves, I highly recommend this digital photo frame.
You'll be happier not spending time in front of a computer to send/manage photos, and the recipient will be happier not having to do the same to view their photos.
Available in 10″, 10: widescreen and 13.3″ models, I'd go as far as to say that the Nixplay Seed should be on everyone's gift list this year.
Best 15″ Digital Photo Frame
Dimensions: 14.6 x 11 x 1.2″ (370 x 28 x 30 mm)
Weight: 1.5kg (3.3 lb / 52 oz)
The Pix-Star FotoConnect XD digital photo frame is a direct competitor to the Nixplay Original (up next in my review), featuring similar WiFi functionality as well as the flexibility of plug-and-play USB drive/SD card input.
I would have chosen the Pix-Star as the overall best digital picture frame if not for one small detail – when comparing the best bang-for-your-buck 10″ models, the Pix-Star only offers 800 x 600 resolution, whereas the Nix models offer 1024 x 768.
While this may not be so noticeable for some people, us photographers would prefer to be showcasing our work on screens with maximal resolution. The screen on the Nixplay models did look better to me, with nicer colours and hues straight out the box.
I'd recommend that you opt for this Pix-Star 15″ model which features the 1024 x 768 resolution and consequently, a much nicer screen.
The Pix-Star 15″ is about $10 more expensive than the Nixplay Original (see latest Pix-Star pricing here), but I do believe the Pix-Star is the better product.
Since the basic WiFi functionality and ability to send images and video to the Pix-Star is similar to the Nixplay, I'd like to focus instead on why I think the Pix-Star is actually better than the Nixplay digital picture frames.
I'll be comparing it to the Nixplay Seed and the Nixplay Original, since the two products overlap in many ways.
Pix-Star vs Nixplay
First off, let's take a look at the build. I think that aesthetically speaking, I prefer the Nixplay Seed, with its more modern design, especially when viewed from the back.
If you plan to have a digital photo frame standing on your work desk for example, or anywhere people entering a room may see the rear, the Nixplay Seed will definitely attract more compliments!
The Pix-Star however offers design elements that make it more practical, such as a thin cord which is easier to hide when wall mounting the frame (the rear stand can be removed), and a remote control which can be stored neatly on the back.
The Nixplay frames offer the ability to turn on when a person enters a room, and save power by turning off after a set amount of time if it doesn't detect movement. The Pix-Star doesn't offer this.
When a new image or video is sent to both devices, the Nixplays display a message on the screen, whilst the Pix-Star can display a message and a sound.
I couldn't find a way to configure a sound notification like this on the Nixplay digital photo frames, and much preferred this option, since the recipient would usually miss the visual notification (which disappears after a couple of seconds).
One key area of functionality for more power users where the Pix-Star beats the Nixplay devices is in the syncing of cloud based folders.
With the Nixplays, you're required to manually add the contents of cloud based folders to various playlists, which get synced to the recipient's frame.
With the Pix-Star however, you can set up a Dropbox auto-sync, whereby the frame automatically pulls in new content 2-3 times a day without you needing to touch anything.
Auto-syncing with cloud based folders is great feature of the Pix-Star for truly fuss-free operation, but admittedly it may not be important to all people.
On the topic of sending content to the frames, the Nixplays support up to 5 frames per account, while the Pix-Star offers 25.
The user interface of the Pix-Star is pretty average compared to the Nixplay – you can see that the Nixplay has a team of designers to help them make not only their website look a lot better than Pix-Star's, but also their web interface.
Then there's the topic of cloud-based storage. If you exceed the free 10GB that comes with the Nixplay frames, you'll need to subscribe to a monthly plan. However, the Pix-Star provides unlimited storage for free – if you're going to be sending hundreds of thousands of images to your frames, this is clearly the more cost effective option.
Another area where the Pix-Star is perhaps better than Nixplay is in its offering of other entertainment apps that come pre-loaded.
I say ‘perhaps', since not everyone will need gimmicky things like radio stations, weather forecasts, reminders and games in their digital photo frame – I know I don't! Maybe the 3-day forecasts could be useful, but I'd prefer to use another device to do the other things.
As for managing the images and videos to send to the frames, both the Nixplay frames and the Pix-Star offer intuitive, simple to use web interfaces that are quite fun to use. Both frames also offer smartphone apps, and the ability to email photos to your frames – the Pix-Star automatically checks for new incoming ‘photo-mails', and displays an icon and/or a sound on the screen to notify you.
You can also send short audio clips using the phone app to the Pix-Star.
So all in all, if you're willing to stump up for the 15″ model, the Pix-Star is definitely the better choice. You get a lot more for your money than with the Nixplay devices, and free, unlimited cloud storage is perfect for those who don't want to have to worry about their usage.
Dimensions: 14 x 11.4 x 5.9″ (355.6 x 289.56 x 149.86 mm)
Weight: 1451.5 g (3.2 lb / 51.2 oz)
The whole NIX and Nixplay line up is rather confusing, with several products overlapping each other in terms of very similar functionality and looks.
The NIX range is the traditional digital photo frame, allowing just USB and SD card input options.
Nixplay frames come in 4 different ranges: Seed, Iris, Original and Edge.
Here I'm focusing on the Nixplay Original, which features all the same functionality as the Seed, but with the addition of USB stick and SD card plug-and-play options.
The Nixplay Original is also a wall mountable digital photo frame, whereas the Seed is not intended to be.
Available in 15″ and 18.5″ varieties, the Nixplay Original is in direct competition with the Pix-Star mentioned above.
I prefer the Pix-Star 15″ model, but if you need a digital photo frame that turns on when you enter a room, and turns off a few moments after you leave it, the Nixplay frames are your best bet.
I also recommend that you read some of the reviews on Amazon about the Nixplay Original – with over 1,200 positive reviews, this frame has attracted legions of loyal fans.
If you're in the market for a large digital photo frame which saves energy by turning itself on and off automatically, and also offers backwards compatibility for USB sticks and SD cards, the Nixplay Original is a great choice.
Best Budget Digital Photo Frame
Dimensions: 0.8 x 8 x 5.6″ (20.32 x 203.2 x 142.24 mm)
Weight: 266.49 g (0.59 lb / 9.4 oz)
Finally, we have this offering from Micca, a basic, affordable device and arguably the best budget digital photo frame available in 2020.
At less than $50 (see latest price here), don't expect too much – there's no WiFi compatibility, and the screen isn't IPS, so it doesn't offer the breadth of viewing angles like the other digital frames in this comparison.
The Micca can use SD cards and flash drives up to 32GB, which is more memory than you’ll ever really need. This frame can also accommodate home videos and has built-in speakers and a jack for headphones – although just who exactly would be listening to a digital photo frame with headphones is beyond me…!
There's unsurprisingly no motion sensor either, but the Micca does have a timer function, which can turn the frame off when everyone's gone to bed.
While this frame might seem like the weakest product in this list, the Micca is a great and affordable option if you’re using it just for the most simple display purposes. It’s inexpensive compared to other units, and you still have the core functionality of other digital frames.
As it doesn’t rely on cloud storage and linking to social media accounts, the Micca is good for people who aren’t exactly tech-savvy. You also get a remote control with this unit if you don’t want to flip it around every time you want to change something.
If you're looking for a cheap digital picture frame with tons of positive reviews on Amazon, the Micca is actually a really good choice. At under 50 bucks for the 7″ model, it could be a good idea to buy in bulk to be used as competition prizes, or if you have a really big family and a smaller budget ;-)
Disclaimer: All recommendations are impartial and based on user experience, with no bias to the products or the brand. The products in this post may contain affiliate links.