by | Jul 15, 2020 | Z

Last Updated: Oct 20, 2021 @ 10:55 am.

New grandchild? Congratulations! Now, how do you plan to see all those baby pics? A digital picture frame is the perfect gift for grandparents, friends and relatives. We purchased and tested 16 different frames, from no-frills choices to WiFi-enabled options. We looked at models that enable you to directly email pictures and others that can pull photos from social media. Here are the best choices.

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Best WiFi Picture Frame

Works with Alexa, Instagram, Facebook
We loved how easy it was to email pictures to this frame. Excellent picture quality, ease to use and set up. Works with Alexa.
$140.46

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Best WiFi Picture Frame: Nixplay Smart Digital Photo Frame 10.1 Inch

Digital photo frames are perfect for that new grandparent who wants to see the latest pictures of their grand-babies—and in theory, they should be easy to set up and beam photos to. Unfortunately, the reality of too many digital picture frames falls short of this ideal. Some frames come with lousy apps and software that can frustrate even the most tech-savvy person.

Our top pick here solves those problems: the Nixplay Smart Digital Photo Frame was the easiest to set up and use in our testing. We could easily email photos to the frame; and the software/app are well designed. Bonus: this frame can be wall mounted and even has a motion sensor to turn it on/off. Here’s an overview:

What We Liked

• Excellent picture quality. The HD frame has excellent resolution (1280 x 800) and even turns pictures from landscape to portrait if needed.

• App (Nix Play) is easy to use. In our testing, we thought Nix’s app was the most intuitive to use. Most impressive: you can troubleshoot any issues grandma might have with the frame via the app, changing the settings, etc.

Wall mountable. 

• Variety of sizes. There is a 15-inch version of this frame if you prefer a bigger size; or you can go smaller with a 9.7 inch version with a polished metal frame. However, the 10.1 frame offers the best value and picture size.

• Alexa enabled. Yes, you can control this frame with Alexa, if the grandparents have an Alexa device like the Echo Dot.

What Needs Work

• Can only be paired with one device. 

• Not for video. This frame can play only 15 second (or shorter video clips).

• Set up requires basic knowledge of WiFi pairing. While we found the set up to be easy and straightforward, it does require pairing the device with WiFi (which means knowing Grandma’s WiFi password) and setting up an account in the Nix Play app. Again, not crazy difficult . . . but probably not for tech novices.

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Best For Non-Techies (No WiFi)

Load pics with USB or memory card
Low-tech solution doesn't use WiFi—perfect for tech novice relatives. Affordable and decent quality picture. Pop in memory card or USB drive to get pics.
$79.99

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Best For Non-Techies (No WiFi): NIX Advance 8 Inch USB Digital Photo Frame

Let’s be honest—when it comes to digital picture frames, sending new pictures via WiFi is great . . . if you have the tech skills to pair the thing, set up an account in an app and connect to a cloud service like Google Photos.

If you read that last sentence and are asking, “What is the cloud?” then it might be best to go with a simpler low-tech digital picture frame.

We tested out several non-WiFi digital frames—these use a USB drive or SD card to load pictures. The best of the bunch for picture quality and affordability is the NIX Advance. Here’s an overview:

What We Liked

 Excellent picture quality. This frame has the same great picture resolution of our top pick, but costs much less since there is no WiFi compatibility.

• Plug and play. Simply attach a USB thumb drive or SD card to the device and poof! There are the pictures.

• Motion sensor turns the frame on or off.

What Needs Work

• No internal memory. You must use a USB drive or SD card; this digital picture frame can’t internally store any pictures. That means someone with tech skills has to transfer the photos to the SD card or USB drive. And in our testing, the SD card option (a separate purchase) worked better than USB, which sometimes had an issue with correctly re-sizing and rotating images.

• Can’t email photos or troubleshoot remotely. This picture does NOT have WiFi—there is no transferring of photos from a cloud storage service, no remotely updating the frame or adjusting the settings via an app. Yes, this frame has a physical remote control, but that has to be very close to the frame for it to work.

• Doesn’t work with micro SD cards.

• One color option. If you don’t like black for the color of the frame, you are out of luck.

• Video playback is sub-optimal. The frame only plays back video in low resolution (720p), not the high definition (1080p) that most smartphones shoot today. We were not thrilled with the video quality.

• Doesn’t last forever. In longer-term testing, we see reports that this frame stops working or developed issues after two or three years of normal use. We realize an affordable digital photo frame like this isn’t designed to last forever, but this disappointed some folks who though it would work for a longer period of time.

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Best Budget-Friendly Frame

No frills but works fine
Pricey but app-enabled digital frame has excellent picture quality. Pulls pictures from cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and more.
$101.00

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Best Budget-Friendly Frame: Aluratek (ADPF07SF) 7 Inch Digital Photo Frame

If you don’t care about bells and whistles and just want a simple digital photo frame at a price that doesn’t cost a fortune, we’d go with the Aluratek (ADPF07SF). This digital photo frame works with USB drives or SD cards to load photos. Out of all the low priced digital frames we tested, this one had the best picture quality and ease of use.

What We Liked

• Affordable. Some digital photo frames can run hundreds of dollars and include features (like video playback, date/calendar) that few folks use. This frame keeps it simple—it just displays photos for an affordable price.

• Small size fits on desks. The 7″ frame fits nicely in smaller spaces—the frame’s kickstand holds it upright in a landscape orientation. And do you really need a 15″ photo frame to show pictures? That’s overkill for most folks.

What’s Needs Work

• Lower resolution screen. This screen has lower resolution than our top pick—during our testing, we set our expectations accordingly and thought the resolution was good enough for most users . . . especially for the smaller 7″ frame size.

• No WiFi. You can’t load pictures remotely or via a cloud storage system. You must physically stick a memory device (USB, SD card) into a slot in the back of this frame.

• Finicky picture formatting. Maker Aluratek recommends all photos be saved as jpegs in a Windows program such as Paint. Otherwise, the pictures may not display properly. That’s an extra step that digital novices may not be thrilled with. And sometimes the pictures don’t fill up the entire frame.

• Doesn’t always show photos in correct orientation. Again, this can be solved by doing some post-processing of your photos—which adds to the complexity to this purchase.

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Best Cloud-Enabled Frame

Syncs with Instagram, Facebook, Shutterfly and more
Pricey but app-enabled digital frame has excellent picture quality. Pulls pictures from cloud services like Dropbox, Google Drive and more.
$149.99

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Best Cloud-Enabled Picture Frame: Pix-Star 1o Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame

After testing several cloud-based digital picture frames, we pick the Pix-Star 10 Inch Wi-Fi Cloud Digital Photo Frame as the best of the bunch. It was the easiest to use and set up—plus the picture quality is best in class. Here’s an overview:

What We Liked

• High definition, excellent quality display. 

• WiFi enabled; can pull in pictures from Instagram, Facebook, Dropbox and other cloud services. We found the app and software easy to use—in our tests, we had no problem connecting these services to the frame.

• Unique email address. The device can be configured with an email address—you (or any relative) can send photos directly via email.

• Multiple play modes and transitions. Just want to see recent photos? Or pictures taken in the last month? The Pix-Star can do that, plus let you customize the transitions including the ever-popular Ken Burs effect.

• Collages. You can view four or five pictures at the same time as a collage—or just one picture at a time.

• On-screen controls easy to navigate.

• App a snap to use. The Pix Star Snap app is aptly named—we found it the easiest to use among all the frames we tested.

What’s Needs Work

• Pricey. Given all the features, however, we think it is a good value.

• Loads of features = not great for digital novices. All the options and settings can overwhelm the tech-averse—you may have to set this one up for Grandpa to get the most out of it.

Why Trust Us

We’ve been rating and reviewing baby gear, including parent tech devices like video baby monitors and digital picture frames, since 1994. We do hands-on testing—we buy the products with our own money and evaluate with an eye toward safety, ease of use and affordability.

Here’s another key point: we don’t take money from the brands we review. No free samples, no sponsors, no “partnerships.” Baby Bargains is your independent and unbiased source for expert baby gear reviews.

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