Redecorate your home every day with one of these digital wall frames
Mar 19, 2019 · 4:00 PMTyler Hayes
This audio was generated using Microsoft’s artificial intelligence.
Going back and forth with a spouse over which picture or piece of art to hang in the house is a situation ripe for a long and frustrating fight. One solution to make each person happy is to put up a digital wall frame—one that has the ability to change what you see at the press of a button.
The market for digital frames isn't the same since it first boomed in the mid-2000s. The market for large, digital frames meant to hang on the wall is even smaller—but that doesn’t mean the market is completely gone. The major choices reside with names like Meural, Depict, and Samsung.
A digital picture frame that hangs on the wall and starts at $600 could is a hard expense to swallow, but give it a chance. While it is costly, a quality art piece or matted and framed family photo could easily get to a few hundred dollars as well. Decorating with any type of wall frame isn't cheap, no matter how you slice it.
TL;DR: buying a big digital frame can be expensive, but it might make sense for your house.
Meural digital frame
Despite the cost of starting at $600 for a 27-inch frame, Meural is the most mainstream option—especially since its 2018 acquisition by router company Netgear.
Meural balances size with cost and tries to be as many things to as many people as possible. Here are its highlights:
- 1080p IPS anti-glare display
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Auto brightness with ambient light sensor
- Motion control (hand waving)
- Amazon Echo compatible
- iOS and Android compatible
In my hands-on time with a Meural canvas in 2018, it sparked an instant realization of why this product should exist. I don't want to constantly change a framed picture, but I regularly want to change what I see.
The frame itself looks like a non-digital one, but the appearance could using some slimming down. Still, it worked and looked as advertised. For all frames, the cord will be noticeable unless an electrical outlet is directly behind it on the wall.
The Merual canvas was ultimately limited by its software, not hardware, which could be buggy and occasionally slow. While not perfect, it definitely mirrors the look of a non-digital frame, but has the benefits of digital. A 27-inch frame may not be big enough for every wall, but it should fit comfortably on most.
Note: Meural announced at the January CES tech conference that a third-generation 27-inch frame as well as a 21-inch version will become available sometime in 2019.The new frames will support the ability to change the surrounding color.
Unlike Meural, which shows some restraint around a frame's physical size, Depict goes for broke—literally—with its 49-inch “museum quality” digital art frame that starts at $900. The frame’s main selling point is its size and high-def quality display. Beyond those, which may be enough for some people with deep pockets and a larger wall needing art, it does have its downsides.
The first downside is no storage in the frame, meaning the Depict frame needs a constant internet connection. If your Wi-Fi or internet connection goes down, so do the beautiful pictures.
- 4K anti-glare display
- Wi-Fi enabled
- Manually adjusted brightness
- iOS compatible (Android future release)
Samsung The Frame Series TV
The question lingers, if you’re spending between $600 and $1,000 on a digital frame, why not just buy a TV? If you had a TV, it could pull double-duty for all entertainment needs.
For one thing, most TVs aren’t as attractive as a framed piece of art. TVs tend more toward the utilitarian rather than the beautiful. A less-elegant TV has the framed screen, the bulging logo, or even protruding plastic parts.
Samsung’s The Frame series of TVs intends to address the physical appearance items with a sleek design and magnetic (meaning changeable) frames. The TVs in the line range from 43-inches to 65-inches and can be wall mounted or stood on minimal legs.
Since the entire screen is used for a TV, when it's put in Art Mode, the screen can add a faux matte border, complete with adjustable matting sizes and colors.
The reviews from TV-focused sites and customer reviews on Amazon and Best Buy indicate that the TV has a pretty good picture quality (despite lacking on brightness), a sleek design, and performs decently in Art Mode.
The impression I get from reviews and viewing the TV is that The Frame from Samsung probably shouldn't be purchased just for its art-displaying capabilities. It should be considered first a TV and secondarily an art frame.
Other digital frame options
The digital frames mentioned don't account for all the available options, but they do represent the best for hanging on a wall.
Nix continues to carry the torch of digital picture frames that so many other manufacturers dumped years ago. Most of Nix's offerings, however, are meant to be propped on a table, desk, or other piece of furniture. Nix does have a model or two with wall-mounting options, but those still remain too small at 15- to 18-inches to adequately fill most walls.
There are other larger options too, like FRM, but startups without experience at delivering hardware should be given serious consideration, bordering on genuine reservations—especially with anything costing $900 for a pre-order.
The crux of a digital frame is what it can show. Most of them can easily display your photos, but you'll want to make sure you have high enough resolution images so they don't look stretched or distorted.
Both Meural and Depict have annual subscription services which provide you access to hundreds, if not thousands, of famous and obscure art. The market likely isn't big enough to only make money on a frame which is why there needs to be reoccurring revenue.
These services are the Netflix or Spotify of art. And, of course, if you're spending the money on a frame, you might as well have some nice works of art to display on it.
Tyler Hayes is an independent creator and not a representative of Bing or Microsoft.