The 3 Best Digital Photo Frames of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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After further testing, we’ve added the Aura Walden as an also-great pick for people who want a bigger frame. Wholesale Lcd Brochure

The 3 Best Digital Photo Frames of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

A digital photo frame lets you easily display images—including beautiful travel shots and family photos—anywhere you can find an outlet, and it allows you to add new ones from anywhere.

Whether you’re giving a frame as a gift and plan to upload photos remotely or you just want a great frame for yourself, the Aura Carver is the best frame we’ve used. Its 10.1-inch display is sharp, bright, and vivid, and in our tests it was simple to set up. On top of that, it has a good-looking, horizontally oriented design, and it fills the frame with side-by-side portrait photos, too.

This frame stands out for its easy setup, vivid display, pleasing design, and near-zero pillarboxing.

This frame shines when it displays vertically oriented photos, and its vivid, 9-inch display allows it to fit nicely on smaller tables and shelves.

If you’re looking for a frame that’s larger than our other picks, this model displays photos as nicely as they do, is just as easy to set up, and would look great on a wall or on a bookcase.

We chose digital photo frames that make uploading photos and navigating the frame easy and intuitive.

We preferred frames with a 4:3 ratio (the ideal size for most photos) and minimal pillarboxing (black bars on the sides of photos).

We searched for frames with borders similar to those of a true photo frame, rather than a propped-up, shiny tablet.

We sought frames that had a minimum 1080p display and tested resolutions as high as 2K, or 2048p.

This frame stands out for its easy setup, vivid display, pleasing design, and near-zero pillarboxing.

The Aura Carver stands out for its stylish frame and easy setup, as well as for displaying the least amount of pillarboxing compared with other frames we tried, thanks to its side-by-side method for vertical photos.

It’s straightforward to set up and use, and loading photos and videos remotely is a breeze—the free Aura app works with Android and iOS phones, and you can add photos through a web uploader, too. From the app’s intuitive design to the frame’s pared-down interface, the Carver isn’t just for the tech savvy.

This frame shines when it displays vertically oriented photos, and its vivid, 9-inch display allows it to fit nicely on smaller tables and shelves.

The Aura Mason was our top pick for a long time, and it’s still a great choice, particularly if you want the flexibility to display vertical (aka portrait) photos. Its 9-inch display and 4:5 aspect ratio make it easier to fit on tables and shelves in comparison with the Carver.

You can rotate the Mason to put it in either portrait or landscape orientation, but we found the Carver’s size to be a better fit for landscape photos, whereas the Mason tends to have more pillarboxing.

If you’re looking for a frame that’s larger than our other picks, this model displays photos as nicely as they do, is just as easy to set up, and would look great on a wall or on a bookcase.

If you long for a digital frame that’s as large as the photos that you often find hung on a wall, the Aura Walden is an excellent option. With a 15-inch display, it’s likely larger than what you’d put on an end table, but it could also be at home on a bookshelf, especially if you plan to place it up high.

The Walden comes with a detachable stand, as well as a nail and hook to hang it on the wall, and you can set it up in either landscape or portrait orientation. Pillarboxing is noticeable on portraits when the Walden is hanging horizontally, so it’s probably best to dedicate this frame to one or the other type of photo to display more often.

Phil Ryan has been an editor and senior staff writer at Wirecutter since 2017. Prior to his time at Wirecutter, he was a senior technical editor for Popular Photography magazine, where he ran the testing lab and tested all types of photo gear. Before that he was a senior editor for CNET, specializing in photo and video equipment. He has also reviewed televisions for both CNET and Sound & Vision magazine on a freelance basis.

Nena Farrell has covered technology and connected-home devices since 2016, originally at Sunset Magazine (where she was an associate home editor) and later at Wirecutter and Wired.

While preparing this guide, we consulted reviews both from owners and from trustworthy outlets such as Wired and PCMag. Unfortunately for the person shopping in this category, the internet is riddled with SEO-driven clickbait blogs offering hands-off reviews of these devices; we ignored those websites.

Digital photo frames can bring great meaning and value to many folks—tech savvy or not—and they often make a great gift. Several types of people are likely to enjoy having a digital photo frame in their home:

We think the Canon CanoScan LiDE 300 is the best for high-resolution scans of delicate or thick items, and the Epson Perfection V600 is best for film.

The simple design, high-quality results, free cloud storage, and $0 price make Adobe Scan an excellent choice.

To figure out which photo frames to test, we researched the available models on retailer sites such as Amazon, Best Buy, and B&H Photo. We went through owner reviews, looked for top sellers in the category, and generally tried to suss out which frames and manufacturers were worth a closer look.

This research also helped us develop criteria for what to look for in a digital photo frame:

Once we had used these criteria to select promising frames, we put each one through a battery of tests. While examining everything from the setup process and the display quality to the design, the ease of use, and even the quality of automatic brightness adjustment, we took notes on each frame’s strengths and weaknesses.

We then uploaded to each frame an identical set of 98 photos from an iPhone library and a Google Photos account. These photos included professional wedding pictures, in addition to photos from a newer smartphone and an older digital camera.

We installed the frames in several locations to gauge clarity, brightness, and glare in different ambient lighting. We also made sure to view each frame straight on and at increasingly oblique angles to see whether the contrast decreased or any of the colors shifted. This process also helped us gauge the ease of installation and any possible snags related to each frame’s required power adapter.

After narrowing the initial pool of contenders, we installed the best performers at a remote location to test how easily we could control them at a distance, as well as to record the experiences of relatives and friends who used the frames and compare their notes against our own.

Most digital photo frames now include video capabilities, so we also uploaded 10 videos (shot on various iPhones and a GoPro camera) and tested each frame for upload limits, playback ability, sound quality, and how seamless (or irritating) the overall experience was.

This frame stands out for its easy setup, vivid display, pleasing design, and near-zero pillarboxing.

The Aura Carver combines attractive hardware and simple software to create a digital photo frame that is especially easy to set up and operate, and it does so at a great price. The quality of its screen is on a par with that of pricier frames, and the setup process—which you perform entirely via smartphone—is as simple as can be, no clunky remote required.

Setup is a snap. In our tests, setting up the Carver (and other Aura frames) was simpler than with any other frames we tried. You simply download the Aura app, pair your phone to the frame, and connect it to your Wi-Fi network using your phone.

One of the few steps between turning on the device and adding photos is the option to send invitations to family members and friends via text so that they can upload their own pictures. (You can also set up the Carver as a gift for someone else; more on that below.) The app also performs automatic firmware updates for the frame, which may slightly delay the initial setup.

Physical controls are minimal. You don’t need to futz with a remote in order to control this frame, because there isn’t one. Aura frames have touch bars on top of the device that let you control basic functions, while setup and other controls are found in Aura’s smartphone app. And the Carver’s slim top makes finding the touch bar easier in comparison with the Aura Mason.

The display looks great. The Carver’s resolution is a little lower than the Mason’s—1280×800 versus 1600×1200, respectively—but we didn’t see an obvious drop in image quality. It still looks sharp, has excellent contrast, and displays colors well.

From older digital-camera pictures to professional wedding photos, our test images looked as great as we’ve ever seen them on a digital screen, without the typical blue undertone that you’ll find on a tablet or other digital frames we’ve tried.

Its aspect ratio is slightly wider than standard. The Carver has a 16:10 aspect ratio, but we found that the wider ratio allowed the entirety of the professional wedding photos to fit on the screen, so no guests were cut out. And when two vertical photos were displayed, they had a 4:5 aspect ratio.

The automatic light sensor works well. In our trial runs, the sensor cranked up the screen’s brightness to combat sunlight. It also tended to pick up light from a different room better than the Mason’s sensor. When these frames were in a dining room, for example, the Carver stayed on even with light spilling in from the kitchen, but the Mason did not.

It has a more interesting look than many frames. Compared with a lot of other models in this category, which often look more like tablets than decorative frames, the Carver has an aesthetic that gracefully combines form and function.

The frame has nifty features, such as touch-sensitive strips that let you mark favorite photos and go forward and backward with a swipe. They take a little patience to work, so we recommend moving slowly when using them.

The grooved, textured plastic makes the Carver look like a nice frame you might buy for a print photo. Instead of relying on a flimsy stand to prop itself up, it has a thicker base, which makes it more stable, and you have nothing to assemble beyond plugging in the power cord.

It presents photos cleanly. On its default settings, the Carver behaves more like a real picture frame than a digital one—the only giveaway is when it switches to side-by-side mode. You’ll find no cheesy animations between photos as on other frames we’ve dismissed, only simple fades and swipes.

It crops images intelligently to fit the frame. The Carver does a better job than most models of automatically cropping photos to fit on the screen, ensuring that the subjects are nicely centered. You can also easily re-crop an image within the app if it doesn’t automatically focus on your favorite part, though judging from our experience, you won’t need to do this very often.

The Carver’s Photo Match mode—which places two portrait-orientation photos next to each other to fill the landscape-oriented screen—did fairly well in pairing similar shots. Occasionally the pairings felt random, but we didn’t find that too bothersome.

It handles video (and even sound), too. All Aura frames, including the Carver, can play videos, and you can upload them the same way you add photos. The only limitation is that auto-upload doesn’t work for video.

The Carver puts vertical videos into Photo Match mode, placing them side by side with another video or a portrait-orientation photo. It has a built-in speaker that can play a clip’s audio track, and in our tests the speaker was loud and clear enough for us to hear both voices and background sound or music.

You control sound on a per-video basis, enabling it by tapping on the frame’s touch-sensitive strip. Once you’ve enabled it for a given video, all replays will include sound, but the next video the Carver shows will be muted (assuming that you haven’t already enabled sound for it). Aura remembers the volume level you selected, though you can also control the volume on screen or from the app when a video plays.

The result is that Aura frames never burst into sound and video when you’re least expecting it, unlike many competitors we tested.

It can play Apple Live Photos. Unlike every other brand of frame we tested, the Carver and other frames in the Aura family are compatible with Apple’s Live Photo feature. So you’ll see such images come to life for an instant when they first appear on the display, similar to the video experience.

It’s designed to be gifted. Aura’s software helps you easily set up the Aura Carver as a gift. Using the app, scan a QR code on the box to pair it with your account. That lets you invite family members to contribute photos before the gift recipient unpacks the frame and plugs it in.

You can also have the frame shipped directly from Aura and use the company’s email-setup process to associate it with your account while the frame is in transit. Though we didn’t try the gift-setup method ourselves, we do appreciate Aura’s focus on the gift angle. This is a feature that other frames don’t have—to replicate the experience on other frames, you have to prepare the frame yourself manually and then give it as a gift afterward.

You can choose from a couple of different designs. This frame also comes in a Carver Mat version ($30 extra), which has two frame layers that look like a mat picture frame instead of the textured frame that most other Aura models have. Whether the aesthetics are worth the slightly larger investment is up to you; in our tests the only difference we noticed between the two models is that the Carver Mat’s ambient-light sensor occasionally picked up light better than that of the standard Carver. Besides that, they’re identical in quality and experience.

Aura respects your privacy. The company’s frames, including the Carver and the other picks in this guide, display images that are stored on its servers after you upload them. Aura assured us that it doesn’t share or sell customer data for advertising purposes, and that photos are encrypted at all times. Any photos you delete from the app are also permanently removed from the cloud servers.

Aura’s Smart Suggestions feature uses facial recognition, but it’s processed locally—on the frame itself—and customers can opt out at any time.

We also appreciate that Aura includes a digest version of its security practices at the top of its privacy policy and offers guides explaining how to control your data and permissions.

This frame shines when it displays vertically oriented photos, and its vivid, 9-inch display allows it to fit nicely on smaller tables and shelves.

Like the Aura Carver, the Aura Mason offers attractive hardware and simple software, but it does so with a smaller, 9-inch screen. Its more-petite footprint allows it to fit better on smaller end tables and shelves than our main pick. Unlike the Carver, it can physically rotate between portrait and landscape mode like a real picture frame, but we noticed that it was more prone to pillarboxing (adding black boxes to either side) when showing a photo that didn’t match the frame’s orientation.

It looks great in either portrait or landscape orientation. The Aura Mason’s thick, grooved frame gives it a pleasing look and, as with our top pick, makes it easy to install since it comes in a single piece (beyond the power cord). It’s also able to rotate, so you can switch from portrait to landscape orientation by simply picking up the frame and changing which side it sits on.

Switching from one orientation to the other worked quickly and fairly seamlessly in our tests; the two sides are weighted appropriately to act as the base for either orientation. The touch strips are located in the middle of the frame’s sides, so if you don’t have a view of the top, they might be a little harder to find than you expect, in comparison with those on the slimmer-top Carver.

It’s sharper than the Carver and comes in our preferred aspect ratio. The frame’s screen has a vivid 1600×1200 resolution and a 4:3 aspect ratio, which is our preferred size for most photos.

We found that photos looked especially great when viewed in portrait orientation on the Mason, but the Mason’s landscape mode is a little short compared with the Carver’s and might not fit a large, vertical shot as nicely. The Mason has a technically better resolution and aspect ratio than the Carver, but we didn’t find the improvements noticeable during everyday use.

It has the same privacy and security assurances as our top pick. The company’s frames all operate on the same backend system that you control through an app, and we’ve concluded that they offer the best approach to data security of the frames we’ve tested.

But it has more cropping issues. During our tests, the Mason was more likely than our top pick to have pillarboxing or strange cropping, which was noticeable anytime we saw the frame. Like the Carver, it automatically crops photos to fit on screen, but its results were mixed compared with the consistently nice crops we saw on our main pick.

Photos containing several people were problematic for the Mason; sometimes the frame would center on the people in focus and other times center on people on the side of the photo. And sometimes the frame would choose not to crop, producing pillarboxing.

This problem is fixable in the app, where you can manually adjust the cropping of any individual photo quite easily. But in our tests it happened to so many photos that fixing them all would have been time-consuming for us. And if you upload a large batch of images at once, or connect the Mason to a big Google Photos album, you might gradually find that you have quite a few photos to fix once they display on the screen.

If you’re looking for a frame that’s larger than our other picks, this model displays photos as nicely as they do, is just as easy to set up, and would look great on a wall or on a bookcase.

While our other picks seem like a perfect fit for an end table, or maybe even a desk, the Aura Walden needs a location that can accommodate its large size. Its screen area alone measures 15 inches diagonally, and with the mat and frame around it, the total diagonal measurement extends out to just past 20 inches. Its size aside, we love the look and solid feel of the Walden, and its setup and controls are identical to those of our other picks.

Considering its size, we found that the Walden feels like a frame you might use for a shorter slideshow of your favorite images that are sized to fill, or nearly fill, the screen. It may also be best to dedicate one Walden to landscapes and another to portraits, or perhaps to use just one for portraits exclusively.

It’s more stylish than the average digital photo frame. The Walden’s thin black frame surrounds a faux mat that evokes the look of a well-framed photo. Up close, you’ll notice a stippled texture to the white mat area, which is set within the outer frame for a sophisticated floating look.

It’s large, but still plenty sharp. This frame’s 1600×1200 resolution shows plenty of detail even when you’re looking at it from a foot away. You’d be fine hanging it in an entry hallway or other areas with minimal viewing distance.

It has a solid build. Weighing 3 pounds 11 ounces, the Walden doesn’t feel cheap, and though the back is made of plastic, it didn’t flex when we moved the frame around. It almost begs you to hang it on a wall using the cutout slots on the back of the frame. We didn’t hang it during our testing, but the included hook should make the task easy, and you could use almost any standard frame-hanging hardware.

Unfortunately, you still have to deal with a cord. Areas along the slots are clearly marked, indicating where the frame hangs from, and small divots in the track give its power cord room to exit so that the frame can sit flat against the wall. But you still need to find a location close enough to a plug (the cord is 9.6 feet long) or get an outlet placed specifically for the frame. The only way not to have a wire dangling down would be to run the cable through your wall, which is a step that most homeowners are unlikely to take.

It looks best when your photo fills the screen. As with the Mason, the 4:3 aspect ratio of the Walden works well for a wide variety of images. But if you have this frame in landscape orientation and feed it a lot of portraits, it’ll either zoom in on them quite a bit to fill the screen or pillarbox them if you have lots of people in the photo and it can’t decide how to zoom and accommodate all of them.

The frame does a very good job of auto cropping, but the only way to show the whole image is to open the app and select that presentation for each photo, which can be time-consuming. At its size, the Walden might make the most sense for a slideshow with fewer images that fill (or almost fill) the frame, rather than as a one-size-fits-all frame for any and all of your images. The Carver remains the best frame for that situation.

It has the same Aura privacy and security policy. The company’s frames all operate on the same backend system that you control through an app, which we think offers the best approach to data security among the frame brands we’ve encountered in our tests.

If you want a great 2K frame: The Aura Mason Luxe has everything we like about the Aura Mason, from the easy uploading to the great aspect ratio, but with a 2K screen (and a higher price tag to match). The Mason Luxe’s screen was a clear improvement when we placed the two models side by side, but we wouldn’t call it necessary—one of our testers commented that they didn’t feel the need to see themselves in such high resolution.

If you want an eye-catching frame in a color other than black: The Nixplay 9.7″ QHD (2K) Smart Wi-Fi Digital Frame, our previous also-great pick, is now sold only with a large silver or gold mirrored frame. Its design is beautiful, and the screen is fantastic.

The NixPlay experience is fairly easy to navigate, with both app- and email-uploading options. But the thick frame leads to a worse motion sensor, so this model is off more often than not, and it requires use of a remote. The shiny silver frame readily shows fingerprints. And this frame is expensive, retailing for $300, though it’s often on sale for around $265.

If you have smart devices in your home, you might own—or be interested in owning—a smart display powered by Amazon Alexa or Google Home. Smart displays such as the Amazon Echo Show or Google Nest Hub allow you to have photos as the main screensaver, resulting in something similar to a photo frame. Our smart-display picks are nearly all cheaper than our digital photo frame picks, but the trade-off is a smaller, dimmer screen.

Also, the experience isn’t completely similar, and you have to make certain sacrifices when you swap in a smart display for a digital photo frame. All of our photo frame picks have higher-quality screens than the smart displays offer. With the exception of existing Google Photos users who own a Google Assistant–powered smart display, most folks don’t find smart displays any easier to upload to and use than a digital photo frame.

Both smart displays and digital photo frames offer an easy way to bring a stream of photos into your daily life. Here’s how to choose which one is right for you.

People have many screens in their lives. Some of them are big and some of them are small, but if you’ve recently upgraded to a newer tablet, you might consider using your old one as a digital photo frame. For this purpose, we recommend using an older retina iPad, since Apple’s displays offer good viewing angles and are bright enough to fight glare. The iPad’s built-in Photos app has integration with iCloud and will remain synced to your phone’s pictures if you choose to use iCloud. Plus, the iPad has a nice slideshow mode that shuffles, crops, and animates your pictures.

You might be tempted to use one of Amazon’s cheap Fire tablets as a makeshift picture frame, but our advice is not to bother. Even though these tablets have IPS screens and are certainly affordable, especially around the holidays, their screens are too dim and offer poor viewing angles.

Skylight, maker of the Skylight Frame, now has an app called Skylight Digital, which offers to turn an existing screen into a digital photo frame. But the compatibility is limited—it’s available only on Fire TVs and on TVs using a Fire TV Stick.

This is not a comprehensive list of all digital photo frames we’ve tested. We have removed any frames that have been discontinued or that no longer meet our criteria.

In our testing, the Aluratek 8-inch WiFi Digital Photo Frame failed to impress. This model has a 4:3 ratio, and although most landscape photos fit nicely, it had a lot of pillarboxing on portrait (aka vertical) photos. Also, this model has clunky menus and a shiny frame, which makes it look more like a propped-up tablet than anything else. We don’t recommend buying it, despite its relatively moderate price tag.

The Nixplay 10″ HD Matted Touch Screen Wi-Fi Digital Frame is a solid-enough frame, and we found the aesthetics a little nicer in comparison with Nixplay’s other offerings. The frame’s base was stable and easy to secure, something that wasn’t entirely true for other Nixplay models. The frame’s screen skewed blue, however, and for a lower price you can get our top pick instead.

The Pix-Star 10″ Cloud & Wi-Fi Digital Picture Frame has a ton of overwhelmingly positive reviews on Amazon, and its features are impressive: In addition to photos, it displays weather and email, and it even plays internet radio. But its ugly design, clunky software, distracting transitions, and low-res, 1024×768 screen negate anything good. It also has the most sensitive sensor of any frame we tested; it usually turned back on right after we turned it off (we had to place the remote in an area of the room where we could turn off the screen without triggering the frame’s motion sensor). Simply put, this frame’s price just doesn’t seem to align with what it offers.

The Skylight Frame, which is highly rated on Amazon, is a mixed bag. It looks well designed from the front, and it has a touchscreen that makes setup a snap. But we prefer other frames to this one. This model is a landscape-oriented frame, and it doesn’t place portrait photos side by side, so you see a large amount of pillarboxing on any non-landscape photo. It has a 10-inch screen but a huge amount of frame, which brings the overall size to 14 inches; this model seemed unnecessarily large when we compared it with other tested frames. Plus, at nearly every step it prompts you to upgrade to the Skylight Pro service (nearly $40 a year) for features such as uploading videos or organizing your photos into albums; the Skylight app, for instance, is available only with the Pro service. Skylight updated the frame in 2022 with hardware upgrades, but those don’t change how we feel about the software and the frame’s size.

This article was edited by Ben Keough and Erica Ogg.

Nena Farrell was an updates writer covering smart speakers, wireless TV headphones, tabletop radios, and digital photo frames, among other things. She was previously an associate editor at Sunset, and is currently a writer and reviewer at Wired.

Phil Ryan is Wirecutter’s senior staff writer for camera coverage. Previously, over 13 years he covered cameras and other photo-related items for CNET and Popular Photography. As the latter's tech editor and then senior tech editor, he was responsible for maintaining and refining the lab testing for cameras, and as the main camera tester,  he used and wrote reviews of many of the cameras released in that timeframe.

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The 3 Best Digital Photo Frames of 2024 | Reviews by Wirecutter

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