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Thanks for the memories  July 26, 2012

About The Author

CNET Editor

Lexy spent her formative years taking a lot of photos and dreaming in technicolour. Nothing much has changed now she's covering all things photography related for CNET.

Focal Point

Whatever happened to digital photo frames?

(Credit: Kogan/Broken Glass image by Robert Radermacher, royalty free)

The future looked so bright for digital photo frames in 2007.

For anyone who took pride in staying up to date with the latest technological advancements, a digital photo frame was the perfect way to show one's prowess as homes started to get more connected.

Who needed internet access from the fridge when a photo frame could tell you the weather and help you re-live your Saturday night?

Just five years on, however, these frames are no more than digital curios relegated to the bargain bin of tech history. Manufacturers are still churning them out, though we don't really know why, given that you can find plenty of dust-clad boxes stacked on shelves in electronics retailers. There's still the odd high-end model that sells for upwards of AU$300, but I don't know anyone who has ever bought one, let alone seen one up on a mantelpiece.

For the record, my own history with digital photo frames has been a tad chequered. From their cumbersome user interfaces, tiny internal storage capacities and the frame that even gave me a virus, let's just say that we've had our differences.

I'm not the only one with a sour taste in my mouth thanks to previous experiences. A study in 2010 showed that digital photo frames topped the list of least-wanted gifts. That's a lot of dead pixels.

So, why are digital photo frames so maligned? There's the paltry resolution, for starters. VGA used to be the de facto standard, while some frames now have a "generous" serving of 800x600 pixels.

The encroaching realm of the tablet is another factor. Not only has this device well and truly eaten away at any market share that a standalone photo frame might have had, but it's also made the single-use application of a photo frame look rather paltry by comparison.

Prices of relatively small 32-inch televisions can now directly compete with the most expensive digital photo frame out there, and they come with SD connectivity, should you so desire the ease of plug and play. It might not be as compact as mounting a frame above the fireplace, but I'm sure your photos will look a whole lot better on a big screen.

Naturally, there are always exceptions to the rule, such as the exquisitely designed DIA Parrot, which looks as much like a work of art itself as the photos it displays. In this case, it comes down to practicality versus price — can you justify the cost of a single-use device, when a tablet with a much better display can be had for the same amount?

While aesthetic reasons might not be at the forefront in the minds of many tech buyers, it does explain a lot about why people still have a printed photo hanging in their house, rather than a multitude of digital frames. The effect of looking at a cluster of pixels on a small screen doesn't quite match up to the lustre of a printed photo or the light-catching effects of a glossy image.

Then, there's the final clincher. Not every device needs to do a multitude of different things, or be everything to all people. In order to succeed, they just need to do one simple task exquisitely well. Which they don't.

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Sean_____________ posted a comment   

Ha this review got it wrong.
Yes the old days,
Good guys 2013 SOLD out in 5 stores.

HD 15 inch versions, $140-180
Also three Harvey Norman stores.

I am about to buy online.

I have a little 7 inch that along with other comments, it gets your eye at times and punches you back to a good holiday for a flash.

You can get your tab to do this and a tv as suggested would cost you a bomb with electricity to have on all the time.


JaimeA posted a comment   

I agree that the early Digi Pic frames were poor.

However, I have three Sony eight inch HD screens and they are brilliant.

I have two high end LR cameras and an assortment of smaller digi cameras...but have accumulated well over 9000 pictures (at last count) of friends, family and of several overseas trips.

I simply load them onto a big USB stick, pop them in and play constantly.

I realise a flat sceen or retina display can do the same thing but my Sony I- Frames are a permanent stand alone device that I never unplug.

I regularly see several pictures that I did not even realise (or had forgotten that I had.

And here is the main benefit: you see people taking zillions of pics on all kinds of devices...we know most will go onto a PC/smart phone / storage device and never be seen again. All my pics are with me on constant display. Digital cameras have made us all snap happy, we have too many pics, they are too many to sort and collate....aaah just leave it...etc

I have shown a few overseas family members the joy combining our stored pics and displaying via the I Frame on constant rotation. I am now hearing nothing but praise and joy.

Some of the pics are very special (deceased relatives ) point in hiding those in the dark recesses of the PC and cluttering up its storage, I say!

I remain a big fan of the Digital picture frame.

Photos especially te special ones are meant to be see.




Talon posted a comment   
United States

Hi, I agree with some of the things people say but I absolutely love digital frames and I have many at home. Every day one or another picture catches our eye and we love it. All digital frames are actually quite easy to operate. You really only need to insert a memory card or a flashdrive loaded with photos. 99% of them will play a decent slideshow. There are problems, of course, and it may very well be because of greed of certain manufacturers. But there are many others that produce an excellent product. One I might mention is Pix-Star. I am very impressed with their frame. Ceiva is a company that only produces digital frames and is very attuned to its consumers. The person you give one to does not have to be technologically savvy at all. Many of them can be set up initially or completely by the gift giver. I have a website in which I discuss how to choose and use a digital frame. I have reviewed a good number of them, both wireless and non and I am continually adding more information. I have listed many unique uses for them and how they are being used around the world. I hope you will check it out. I just revamped the whole site and I am still working on it so if anyone has any questions they can contact me on the Contact Me page. I also have a Facebook page which should be ready for "prime time" very shortly. The website is I welcome any comments anyone has. Thanks. Harriet Adams


Im Batman posted a comment   

Like wht DaveN said, they were overpriced, they seemed to hearld some high inflation price for no reason, espcailly when they first came out and they were 6x4 size etc..

technology moved quickly along with component prices, but digitial photo frame manufacturers must have seen themselves as insular or protected from these changes and thus held onto their hefty price tag.

Wifi connectivity came, but to only the top of the range.
UI was poor, and how portrait images were handled was abismal.

My biggest grief was that they were often just 5x7 size, which looked tiny from a distance.

a cheap android tablet on a simple stand would provide such a better solution, UI, connectivity and footprint


DaveN posted a comment   

What happened to the digital picture frame, is a easy question to answer, I can answer that questions in One word. GREED!
This technology is not that expensive to produce, so why are they so expensive? Again the answer is GREED!
These things are so overpriced that it is ridicules,

Problem #2 was a lot of these were given as gifts, to computer illiterate people,
How can we expect them to understand how to program a digital frame. if they don't even understand how to set the clock on their Microwave oven?

I suggested once before, we consider not gifting these to people who don't even have a computer, and or are "12 O clock flashers" (someone who doesn't understand how to set the clock on digital devices)


103 posted a comment   

Bad design of many. You have to find a way to route the power cord. They could come back if they are made POE.


CALady95661 posted a comment   
United States

I am out of the loop. My husband and I were just talking about getting one the other day. Always a day late and a dollar short. lol


102 posted a comment   

I still think there's a place for single purpose digital photo frames. My family has loved them. You can have pictures of the entire distant family (each child, each grandchild and grouped families) plus the trips you've been on, your old photos scanned ... and you reduce the shelf space taken up by stand alone pictures. I enjoy looking at the pictures of my son, scrolling from birth to age 5. Pictures that would otherwise either take up a whole wall, or be stuffed away in albums or boxes. The frame is a constant source of entertainment. I frequently smile at the odd pictures or those I haven't seen in awhile. There's a place --- especially for my techno-phobic parents/grandparents.

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