Put Your Photos in a Large Digital Frame at Home and Save a Bundle on Printing

Put Your Photos in a Large Digital Frame at Home and Save a Bundle on Printing

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

Summary

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.

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20 Comments

Yan Pekar's picture

The price is 695 USD, not 595. And the link you specified in "It's available for purchase here" sentence is not valid; the following error is displayed on attempt to navigate to the link: "This site can’t be reached put%20your%20photos%20in%20a%20large%20digital%20frame%20at%20home%20and%20save%20a%20bundle%20on%20printing’s server IP address could not be found."

Mel Martin's picture

Prices start at 595. Well fix the link. Thanks.

Jen Photographs's picture

The black and white frames are $595.

Mel Martin's picture

The black and white refers to the wood of the frame, not the screen. All the screens are in color. Photographers can forego the subscription and they won't need the swivel mount, so you can get in at $595. They aren't for everyone. Some will prefer high quality printouts or metal. The Meural, however, is a lovely display and works well for my collection, alongside more traditional forms of display.

Jen Photographs's picture

Yes..."Black and white FRAMES"

Jen Photographs's picture

It's definitely a product I'd like to explore at some point. I think the big disadvantage is you can't easily rearrange a series of frames for an artsy effect. At least not unless you're made of money and can afford to buy a bunch. It'd have to be a standalone photo frame for most people.

The biggest issue I've historically had with these types of things is the aspect ratio, it's not 3:2, and if you don't crop and scale to fit, they look horrible. The wide screen aspect ratio may not always be desirable for some images.

Michael Jin's picture

I bought a Memento for my parents after my son was born so that we can upload his photos onto them. They absolutely love it and I think digital frames are awesome for that purpose. As far as displaying fine art photographs, however, they fall a bit flat for me because you run into the same difference that you get between viewing your photo on a screen vs. a print.

A screen that emanates light will always look different from paper which is reflecting light. You also lose the texture of the paper itself and (assuming that you only buy one digital frame) you lose the ability to display multiple images simultaneously. One of the greatest parts of hanging prints to me is the decision you make on where to place them in relation to each other and how they play off each other as a whole. You lose that with a frame that swipes through one image at a time.

Having said all that, I think that it could definitely work for some photographers. If you like the inherently more saturated colors that a screen will give you, it's a great option. If you are the type who likes to change out prints on your wall often, it's also a good option to cut down on costs.

One thing I do wish for all of these frames is for them to be able to use an xRite i1 or some other display calibrator to automatically calibrate the display colors. It bugs me out seeing the colors on my screen vs. how differently the colors of images come out on my parents' frame. The frame does have built in color correction sliders, but I'm not really sure how to getting the colors to be accurate manually.

David Pavlich's picture

I have a small, inexpensive version of this that we have shots of mostly family pictures on. I print my own stuff and have real prints displayed. I like the electronic frames, but they don't compare to the real thing. At the moment, I have three head shots of big cats in our living room (Jaguar, Siberian Tiger, and Leopard) printed 16X24. I do not mean to sound like some sort of self centered person, but they do look stunning when you walk into the room.

I guess I'm kind of old fashion in that sense. Nothing wrong with the electronic frames, but if you have a shot or series of shots that are a step above, print them and display them. Your best work deserves it! ;-)

Nice Product Yan .. Loved it !!!!!

Good looking product. Agree with the comment on not being able to display multiple photos in an arrangement but most people haven't got enough wall space for all the photos they would like to display! There is also the option of Chromecast and your existing tv. Using the Google home app, you can display your photos stored on Google photos in slideshow mode. I'm using the Chromecast ultra with a 1080p 55in LG OLED and the image quality and crop is excellent!

I like this and I did go to their website and look at the video introduction. I also looked at several TV’s that are much less money for larger displays. The Meural is definitely a nice product and I can see justifying this type of purchase, however I think you can buy a larger TV for less money and accomplish the same thing.

Aaron Lyfe's picture

That is one expensive 27" 1080p monitor/tv. I could buy a 40" 4K TV and a Raspberry pi and still be less than half of this asking price.

Brett Martin's picture

Of course there is a Raspberry Pi solution. https://github.com/mrworf/photoframe Buy a $35 Raspberry Pi, connect any HDMI tv/monitor and point it to a google photos collection. I had a prototype up and running in 20 minutes. I gutted an old iMac G4 and now it is a cool looking photo frame that always has new photos on display.

John Skinner's picture

Somehow, you are completely missing the point here on displaying work, having it done on paper, and having that tactile connection to the image. And for a man that appears to have some gray hair -- I'm embarrassed for you on a personal level.

And the final nail in this: "Personally, I got tired of the expense of endlessly buying frames and mattes and metal prints".

Maybe this photo thingy isn't really for you.

Mel Martin's picture

Maybe being a nice person and tolerant of other views isn't really for you.

Dino Jeram's picture

Wtf is this crap! Get a 4K screen for about 1000usd. Or just print it’s better and your images become photographs !

Mark Guinn's picture

Not trying to be a cheapskate, but if I'm going to use a "digital frame" I can do a 32" Vizio with the same resolution for $199 (and use it to watch my shows when I'm tired of admiring my work). https://www.bestbuy.com/site/vizio-32-class-led-d-series-1080p-smart-hdt...

I would highly advice anyone that considers this to give it a few years. The price is insane, it's what I paid for a 27" 160hz Gsync gaming display that does 100% sRGB.

When panels like Samsungs OLED which is basically able to look like a painting when it's off become cheaper this is going to be an easy thing to do. Just not a smart place to be an early adopter yet because this is not worth anywhere near 600 dollars.