Try telling anyone born after 1995 that you once had to snap a photo with your camera, deliver the film to a pharmacy or photo store, wait several days, and then—and only then—would you know if the subject had blinked or not, and they will likely stare in disbelief. Yes, the physical photograph barely exists for people in an age of smartphones and online galleries, so it makes sense that picture frames would have to evolve, too.
As a middle ground between the old ways and the new, digital picture frames let you experience the decorative joy of a framed photo without having to actually go through the rigamarole of printing one out. There are a lot of aesthetic and functional varieties, so no matter what you’re particular tastes there’s likely one for you.
For those looking to go digital without sacrificing the simple look of a photo in a frame, the Aura delivers. It doesn’t announce its digital-ness on an aesthetic level, but is nonetheless a sophisticated and versatile frame. It can connect seamlessly with iOS and Android devices, and via home wifi. The elegant but simple frame houses stunning 2048 x 1536 resolution images, and it all sets up in minutes. Images automatically adjust vertically or horizontally depending on how you’re standing or mounting the frame. If you have an Alexa, the frame can even “talk” to her, too.
If you’re someone who celebrates all digital advancements precisely because they do things differently than what was done before, check out the Nixplay. Guess what those dusty old frames in your grandmother’s house could never do? Have their own playlist, that’s what. The Nixplay has built-in Bluetooth speakers that bring an audio element to your digital photography, allowing you to use the frame as a standalone display or as a presentation hub for a photo montage or slideshow.
Sometimes the hardest part of framing and mounting a picture is settling on one specific image you want to display forever and ever. If such commitment scares you, then the Jeemak is here to help. The 10.1-inch frame supports 1280 x 800 high definition images and even 1080p digital playback. But the key feature here is the accompanying remote control, which allows you to flip and scan through photo galleries at will. You can even set it for random sequence, so even you won’t know what photo will pop up next (which can turn into a potentially dangerous game of social Russian roulette at your next dinner party).
Understandably, the main focus of a digital frame is usually the high-res photo in it. But for those with more sophisticated tastes, the frame is everything. The Skylight offers abundant functionality—connection to wireless networks, the ability to “email” photos directly to the frame, 1280 x 800 resolution—but its deep-set photo bed and matte black finish is almost art gallery quality. It looks gorgeous no matter what it’s displaying. You can control image choice and options via an accompanying app, but the frame itself is a touch screen as well, which makes all adjustments extremely easy.