Updated: October 12, 2015
Digital Picture Frame Reviews and Buying Guide:One of the hottest products this Christmas will be the new and improved digital photo frames. The latest digital frames are becoming larger in size and able to display better quality images on the LCD screens. Just a year ago you were lucky to get a 7 inch digital picture frame for $200 and now you can get most of the standard 7 or 8 inch digital frames for $150 or less. The larger 15 inch screens like the Pandigital PAN150 ($270) will deliver high quality pictures on an LCD screen that measures 15" diagonally across. The Kodak Easyshare P825 Digital Frame and the Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Photo Frame are both priced around $100 on Amazon.com and remain top sellers, but models like the 9 inch Sony DPF-V900 for $220 are slowly gaining sales. Which digital picture frame is the best? Which ones offer the best value? We did some research and came up with a few "top picks" based on customer feedback and expert opinions.
Displaying Digital Photos:Digital frames are a great invention since many people snap away with their digital cameras but rarely get all those photos developed. What happens to all those digital pictures? They stay on your hard drive and never see the light of day. Now, with the improved technology behind digital photo frames, you can display birthday photos, wedding pictures, vacation images, etc. right on your digital frame that sits on your wall or just on your desk. At a recent wine party I attended, the host had a new digital picture frame sitting on her kitchen island so that all the guests could see some of their latest family photos cycle through while we enjoyed the party. She had bought the 10 inch frame at Costco for around $170 and it looked great. Going any smaller than a 6 inch frame might leave you wanting more. With todays large screen TV's and big computer monitors, we have come to expect "more" and digital picture frames are no different.
I recently went into BestBuy to see what type of frames they have and the 6 inch digital frames were lacking. You could only make out the image when up really close and they just aren't capable of showing off the current 10 megapixel photos we all take with our digital cameras. I say get a minimum of an 8" digital photo frame but consider a 10 inch or larger depending on your digital camera megapixel count and where the frame will be displayed. Only look at picture frames with that will show a resolution of 640 x 480 or higher - preferably 800 x 600 pixels. The aspect ratio is somewhat important since you want the images to show up crisp and clear in the digital frame. Most frames come in either 4:3 or 15:9 aspect ratios. The 4:3 digital photo frames work great with most digital camera images. Stay away from electronic picture frames that feature wide-screen 16:9 ratios since several websites noted that these variety distort your pictures and ruin the overall effect. How do you transfer the images over to the digital frame? There are usually a couple of options - via USB, memory cards, or now with you can do it with wifi.
If you are going to buy a digital photo frame that allows you to download or transfer images wirelessly from your computer, you should have some technical know how. Many reviews on models like the Kodak EX1011 say the digital frame works great once it's setup, but the initial wireless transfer was not easy to do. Of course you can always just transfer images via USB or use memory cards. Most of the newer digital photo frames (DPF) let you use standard memory cards and the better ones have built in memory from 32 MB to 512 MB. Depending on the resolution of your photos, you will be able to store 50 to 1000 images on your photo frame. I usually take photos with my 8 megapixel camera and they are around 2000KB in size - I resize them at a smaller resolution and save them out at about 700 KB. That way I can store 100's of digital pictures on my frame. Some of the frames actually work on wireless networks and can display images from online photo sites. Although they can be a little tedious to setup, experts say they make a great gift for grandparents who want to see the latest photos of "little Johnny" but are savvy enough to download and view the images on their computer. When it comes to image quality, few models can compete with the Sony or HP listed below. Sure, features like touch screen controls and the ability to playback video are nice, but don't buy a unit based on those functions alone. You will end up paying more for a digital frame that may not show your images as clearly as other models. Most of the contorls are on the back of the frames but ones like the Sony DPF-V900 come with a remote so you can change or alter the settings without having to get up and touch the digital frame. The frames themselves come in various colors - black, white, brown, etc. and you can get wooden or glass frames to add a little style to the photo presentation.
When you consider all the money you may spend on having your favorite digital photos developed, it's not a bad idea to put out the money on a digital photo frame and have the images displayed in your home for FREE. Just slip in the memory card and watch a nice slide show of your latest vacation. We found excellent online reviews of digital frames at CNET.com, PCMag.com, Amazon.com, and Digitalpictureframereview.com. Magazines like Consumer Reports also review digital picture frames. In all the reviews we read, the most important thing to look for is "ease of use" and then "picture quality". A digital frame is a technical device and like anything else related to computers or digital cameras, you need to have a little technical knowledge to set it up. The better reviews were for models that allowed for easy setup and displayed the images clearly. The top brands include HP, Philips, Westinghouse, Kodak, Sony, Coby, Axion, Aluratek, Piximodo, Pandigital, Smartparts, Royal, and VuePic. Expect to spend at least $75 on the cheaper digital frames and up to $300 on the more expensive frames that are 15 inches or larger. Browse the bestselling digital photo frames here.