As a photographer, I have many of my photos in people's homes, usually as metal prints, because people seem to prefer them. Like most of you, I've got a lot of my work scattered around my house too, either as framed or metal prints.
Personally, I got tired of the expense of endlessly buying frames and mattes and metal prints, so I started looking for other solutions.
I found one: The Meural Digital Photo Frame was designed for people to have an ever-changing window on art works and photos. It's a 27-inch 1080p photo frame that is Internet connected. Digital photo frames have become a bit passe; people often think of digital photo frames for the grandparents to display the family, but they have grown and their quality and utility have increased.
I bought one for mainly displays of my own work, not its intended purpose, but I also like the idea of drawing from their vast library of paintings and photography when I want to see something else besides my photos. Meural has access to great and no so well-known art and photography. At $595, the Meural is not cheap, but I quickly figured out that adding prints, frames, mattes, and metal prints was even more expensive.
I think my adventures with the Meural are worth sharing, so here we go.
The Meural comes in a variety of frame designs, but I picked off-white. You hang it on a wall, plug the thin cord that hangs down into an AC outlet, and follow the onscreen instructions to hook up to your home Wi-Fi network.
You can also control the frame and set it up with an iOS or Android app or using any browser. The frame responds to hand-waving gestures that allow you to move to the next image, change playlists, check the Wi-Fi status, and other housekeeping items.
Adding your own images is easy. Using a web browser, you connect to your Meural and drag and drop your photos in. You can also do this from a phone or tablet, but the pictures probably aren't going to be of equal quality. The Meural wants high quality JPEGs, and if you are using your frame horizontally, the best fit is a crop of 1,920x1,080. If you have different aspect ratios, the Meural will electronically matte your photo, and you can control colors of the surrounding border. The Meural also works in portrait mode, but almost all my work is in landscape mode.
After you get your images in, you can create a playlist or multiple playlists. Then, drag images from your Meural library into whatever playlist you like. The playlists are set on a timeline, which is perfect for the way I use Meural. My nightscape photos show up after 8 PM. During the day, I generally have my daylight landscapes.
The Meural has an ambient light sensor, so it's bright in sunlight and dims at night. The sensor works well.
I really like the quality of the frame. The dynamic range is quite good and from a foot or so back from the frame, you don't see any pixels. In essence, the photos look the same as they did when I edited them on my Apple Cinema Display.
There are a few things I don't like. Early on, there seemed to be some software bugs. The Meural would wink out and fail to respond. There were also some limits of how how many photos the frame would hold in its solid state memory. I've got several hundred photos in there now, and all seems calm with the software. The hand-waving gestures have been pretty much hit or miss for me, but you're not required to use them. The early bugs seem to have been squashed, and the frame works day in and day out. In my house, it comes on at 10 AM and sleeps at 10 PM. That's all done with settings, which give you a lot of latitude abut how the frame behaves. Also, there is the matter of the power cord, which hangs down. You can paint it to match a wall. I have a strategically placed plant to hide it.
For me, the Meural has been an excellent solution to displaying my work in high quality at home. Visitors make really positive comments about the photos and the Meural. Other photographers are especially taken with the image quality.
What I Liked
- Quality display
- Scheduling features
- Multiple playlists
What I Didn't Like
- Early software bug
- 8 GB total storage
- Gestures can be hit or miss
If you are interested in a Meural, they start at $595 with a variety of frame materials. There are two sizes now: 19.2" x 29.5" and a larger model that is 20" x 30.4". The glass is anti-glare with 8 GB of internal storage. The frame has survived several power failures and resumed its program without incident.
There aren't a lot of comparable high-quality frames around. The market is saturated with smaller coffee table type frames, but larger, high quality displays are rare. The Meural does a nice job of displaying my photos, and it can display other photos that the company has licensed. They even have a form so that you can submit your own work for their possible purchase and distribution.
So, if you are in the market for a nice way to display your creativity, the Meural is worth a look. It's available for purchase here.