Photography has come a long way since my 35mm high school days. We've seen it go from film, to prohibitively expensive, low-resolution digital, to stunning high-res cameras in every phone. But the method of viewing digital images has been limited to print and computer screens. Since my very first Canon 5D I've been on the hunt for a digital picture frame that could display images with the same brilliance as print.
Overpriced, poor quality, desktop picture frames, measuring a scant few inches was all the market had to offer for year after year. So I gave up and that's when it happened. Seemingly over night a whole slew of amazing digital frames popped into existence. They skipped generations of advancement, going straight from expensive digital novelties, to stunning full featured smart frames. So to help you choose your first frame, here are my opinions on three of the best options at the $300, $600, and $900 price points.
Guest's Reaction: "Is that a picture frame?"
This is Electric Objects second generation frame. Weighing in at just $299 it's their answer to accessible art. It's important to note that the EO2, though very capable of displaying your photos, animated GIFs, and videos, really aims towards bringing art into your home through their monthly subscription service and community driven content. Given that the majority of the Fstoppers community will primarily be concerned with how well these frames display images, I won't delve into EO's services but you can learn more about that here. That being said, I found displaying my photos on it's 23" (diagonal), LED-backlit, matte screen, looked good enough to fool the casual observer into thinking they might be a printed image. It's visible power cord can give off a monitor vibe if you don't manage to engineer a way of hiding it. The version I had was a simple, clean, black anodized aluminum frame. I suspect that some of their other frames (like their wood option) would provide an even better framed photo experience. My favorite aspect of the EO2 is it's exceptional build quality and affordable price point.
Meural $595 USD
Guest's Reaction: "Looking at paintings on this frame actually makes me emotional."
Like the EO2, Meural aims to bring art into your home. They work closely with museums, galleries, and artists to bring you beautiful displays of art, subscription free. Meural calls it's frame a digital canvas and with good reason. At first glance anyone would be hard pressed to peg this as a digital frame. The Meural really does emulate the look of a print or painting, exceptionally well. To add to it's impressive attributes Meural comes to life through it's near-field gesture interface. Simply waving your hand along the frame's edge allows you to change images, galleries, displayed info and settings. Tuck that cord away and you won't have any regrets replacing your prints and paintings with this new aged canvas. My favorite aspect of Meural's digital frame is it's super realistic image quality and feature rich interface.
Memento $899 USD
Guest's Reaction: "Oh my god that's a digital frame? It's beautiful!"
Memento blends the past with the present. Of the the three options Memento is the one that puts an emphasis on the photographic experience. Brightness, temperature, contrast, exposure, and saturation can all be adjusted to help you reproduce an accurate image. The massive 35" display is stunning and actually seems to finish a room or studio. It also comes in a 25" model for $599 (29″x 21″ x 2″). When I plan my studio, I envision a series of these frames lining it's hallway, displaying my latest works. Memento's resolution, attention to detail and ease of use all come together to form a true print replacement option. It even goes so far as to address those unsightly, illusion breaking, cords. It may seem like a small thing but when you're trying to replace your analog frames with digital, a dangling cord can be painfully obvious. Memento's Flat Power Cable Kit can be picked up for an additional $79. It's 15 feet of flat wire that can be trimmed down, adheres flat to your wall, and has a textured matte surface allowing you to paint right over it (see the photo below for an unpainted example). My favorite aspect of the Memento Smart Frame is it's how easy it is to use, how it fills a space, and how much impact it gives your images.
All three of these frames have a lot going on. Ambient light sensors that dim or brighten the image to maintain a photo realistic image, storage for thousands of photos, WIFI connectivity, energy saver modes, and mobile app supported. Today's frames have finally caught up with the digital age and I for one am very happy to be mothballing my printer for a more enriched photo sharing experience.
If you have any questions about these frames just write them in the comments below and I'll do my best to answer them.