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Updated April 2022
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BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We only make money if you purchase a product through our links, and all opinions about the products are our own. Read more  
BestReviews spends thousands of hours researching, analyzing, and testing products to recommend the best picks for most consumers. We buy all products with our own funds, and we never accept free products from manufacturers.Read more 
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We recommend these products based on an intensive research process that's designed to cut through the noise and find the top products in this space. Guided by experts, we spend hours looking into the factors that matter, to bring you these selections.

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Buying guide for Best digital photo frames

Everyone loves to capture unforgettable moments with their smartphone or digital camera, but openly sharing your favorite photos can be a pain. Few want to take time out of their day to have personal photos printed in that dusty “Photo Center” corner of your local pharmacy, and the high cost of photo paper and ink makes printing them at home fairly expensive.

A digital photo frame is an excellent solution for a number of reasons: all of your favorite photos are on display where everyone can see them, and swapping them out for new pictures is incredibly easy. A nice digital frame will pay for itself in no time.

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For many owners, a digital photo frame provides a special way to share photos that normally stay “hidden” on their phones, laptops, or in the Cloud.

How it works

A digital photo frame is a 21st-century take on the standard photo frame. In essence, it's a small screen surrounded by a frame that can store and display digital photographs.

The pictures may be stored in the frame’s internal memory, on an SD card, or on a USB stick. Some WiFi-compatible frames are able to retrieve and display photos from your online albums.

A digital frame allows you to display your photos in a number of ways. There's the option to choose one photo (or, on some models, a collage of photos) and change it manually when you want to display something new. Another option is to program the frame to cycle through your collection of snaps. If you choose the latter option, you can set the interval between photos, which may be as little as two seconds or as much as twelve hours.

Advantages of digital photo frames

Digital photo frames offer many advantages over traditional photo frames. Here are just a handful:

  • You can display lots of photos without filling every inch of your walls/shelves with frames.
  • You save time and money by not having to get your photos printed.
  • You can choose which photos to display depending on your mood or the occasion. For instance, you could display your wedding photos on your anniversary.
  • In faster interval modes, you can use a digital frame to show friends and family a slideshow of a recent holiday or event.
Expert Tip
Most photo organization apps have built-in tools to quickly identify and delete any potential duplicate images. Use one of these before you load up your digital frame to ensure you don’t see any repeats!
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Considerations

We can’t tell you which photo frame is best for you, but we can we can help you narrow the field by guiding you through the following considerations.

Size

Digital photo frames range in size, from the compact 7-inch model to the 15-inch behemoth frame.

Based on where in your home or office you’d like to place the frame, you might already have a rough idea what size you want. But if you're not sure, we recommend opting for a mid-sized frame. A frame that’s too small may seem hardly worth it; a frame that’s too big might sacrifice some of its resolution quality for size — unless you pay top dollar, that is.

Resolution

A photo’s resolution reflects its image quality. In general, the higher the resolution, the better the quality. We recommend a frame with a resolution of at least 1200x800 pixels to get a good image.

Internal memory

Most digital photo frames come with some internal memory, which allows you to store photos in the frame itself.

The more internal memory you have, the more photos you can store. This varies quite a bit from model to model. If you plan to use internal memory, look for a minimum of 4GB of internal memory, though the amount of internal memory you need will depend strongly on whether you plan to use cloud-based photo storage services, or if you plan on using a frame that works with microSD cards for expanding storage.

However, almost all digital photo frames come with an SD and/or MicroSD slot which you can use as part of your photo storage system.

Aspect ratio

A photo’s aspect ratio refers to the proportional relationship between its width and height.

Digital photo frames usually display photos in one aspect ratio only, so you must choose wisely. Check the aspect ratio of the camera that most of your photos will be coming from before you pick your digital photo frame. Why is this important? If the aspect ratio of a photo doesn't match the aspect ratio of the frame, it will automatically crop or stretch the image to fit the frame, causing distortion.

Higher-end cameras, including DSLR cameras, normally shoot in an aspect ratio of 16:9.

Expert Tip
If you’re getting ready to upload photos online, do a quick check to see how much file storage your pictures take up before you start. It’s important to make sure that you’ll have enough available space in your cloud storage so you don’t run out mid-transfer.
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WiFi capability

Many digital photo frames have WiFi capability, which means they can connect to the internet through your home wireless network and download or display photos directly from your storage accounts, such as Google Photos, Facebook, Flickr, and Picasa.

However, some WiFi-capable frames require you to work with their proprietary apps and cloud storage services, so you'll want to avoid these if you have an existing cloud-storage account on another platform that you want to use.

You can find WiFi-only models, meaning they don’t have any built-in storage or room for expansion. These can save you money, but you need to be comfortable using cloud photo storage.

While WiFi features are pretty cool, if you're buying the frame as a gift or if you aren't particularly inclined toward technology, a more basic model might be the better choice.

Expert Tip
If you’re using a cloud-based service for photos, create a new folder specifically for pictures for your digital frame. That way, you can curate what images appear, and you avoid the risk of unexpected pictures from your collection appearing. This can also help you make sure all of the photos you display are oriented correctly.
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Portrait or landscape

Some digital photo frames allow you to display your photos in landscape orientation or portrait orientation — but not both. This is extremely limiting. We prefer frames that allow you to alternate between landscape and portrait orientation.

Card compatibility

Since some digital photo frames come with little or no internal storage, they'll need to be compatible with SD or MicroSD cards to use as storage.

Check that the photo frame that you choose is compatible with the kind of SD card you most regularly use.

Controls

While you might think touch screen controls are handy, you will need to wipe fingerprints off the screen in order to enjoy a clean view. Most touch screens offer both physical buttons and touch screen buttons. 

We prefer those that are either controlled with a remote or by buttons on the edge or back of the frame.

Display and intervals

Although most digital photo frames allow you to select a certain photo and display it until you decide to change it, most people set their frame to rotate photos at regular intervals.

The timing of these intervals varies from model to model, but it usually starts at a quick two- or three-second interval (ideal for slideshows) and goes all the way up to a slow interval of 12 hours or more. This longer interval suits people who want their digital photo frame to act more like a regular photo frame — with a bit of variety.

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Expert Tip
If you’re buying a digital frame as a gift for a loved one or family member, you can set it up ahead of time so that their favorite images appear as soon as they plug it in.
BestReviews Electronics Expert

Price

Digital photo frames range in price from about $50 for a small, basic model with a high-quality display to almost $200 for a large, WiFi-compatible model with all the bells and whistles.

You could spend as much or as little as you like within this range, depending on your needs and requirements. However, we wouldn’t recommend paying much less than $50 on even a basic digital photo frame. What you save in price would probably be sacrificed in the quality of the photo display and the durability of the product.

Tips

  • The size of a digital photo frame is measured across the diagonal. For example, from the top left corner to the bottom right corner. The measurement includes the screen but not the outer frame.
  • If you choose a model with a resolution that’s too low, your photos will look grainy and pixelated.
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When budgeting for a new digital photo frame, don't forget to factor in the cost of an SD card. And if you don't already have a spare, you’ll probably want one for extra storage.

FAQ

Q. How many photos will my digital photo frame hold?

A. This depends on the amount of internal storage your frame has, the amount of extra storage you buy in the form of an SD card, and the file size of your photos.

Bear in mind that 1GB of memory will hold about 450 6MP JPEG photos. From there, you can calculate approximately how much storage space you have. Caveat: if you have larger or higher-resolution photos, 1GB may hold significantly less.

Q. Do digital photo frames need to be plugged into a wall outlet?

A. Yes, almost all digital photo frames need to be plugged into an electrical socket. The only frame we found powered by rechargeable batteries was the Kodak Easyshare, but the batteries last only a few hours at a time, so you can't really rely on battery power alone.

Q. Can digital photo frames be mounted on the wall?

A. Some models come with a kit that allows them to be mounted. However, as previously mentioned, the frame needs to be plugged into a wall. If you were to mount the frame, you’d still have to deal with an unsightly power cord running down your wall.

Q. Where's the best place to display a digital photo frame?

A. LCD screens don't work well in sunlight, as the glare makes the picture difficult to see. A digital photo frame should be displayed in a relatively shady part of the room, out of direct sunlight.

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