Tech Review: Digital photo frames have come a long way in the last 10 years. Here’s an up-close look at one — the $149 PhotoSpring — that makes sharing photos super easy.
I have to admit, I’ve never purchased a digital photo frame.
I’ve received a few as gifts over the years, but I wasn’t impressed with those early offerings, and I never chose to display them in my home. The frames were small and the quality of the image on the screen was not very good.
I’m happy to say digital photo frames have come a long way in the last 10 years, and I’ve been testing the PhotoSpring, a connected digital frame that is good enough to earn a spot in my living room.
The bottom line
Pros: Easy to set up. Photos can be shared from a variety of sources. Super picture quality.
Cons: Wi-Fi required to load photos. Screen aspect ratio doesn’t match my iPhone’s photos.
Bottom line: This is the frame that’ll make sharing photos super easy — and they look great.
The PhotoSpring (starting at $149, www.photospring.com) might look like an iPad and shares some features with tablet computers, but it has a single purpose — it is a wireless display for your photos and videos.
Unlike early digital photo frames that just sat on a shelf, the PhotoSpring has a four-hour rechargeable battery so you can take the frame with you to enjoy on the sofa or pass around at your next family reunion.
Unlike those early digital frames that you loaded with a USB port or memory card, the PhotoSpring gets its content wirelessly. You have to have Wi-Fi to set up and transfer photos and videos to the frame.
At home, the PhotoSpring sits in a charging dock. You can orient the frame vertically or horizontally, and it’ll happily sit there all day scrolling through your photos.
If you want to enjoy the pictures close up, take it off the dock and hold it in your lap and you can watch the pictures scroll by or use the touch screen to swipe through them manually.
You load photos and videos to the PhotoSpring through your Windows or Macintosh computer or from your iOS or Android phone or tablet.
You’ll create an account on PhotoSpring’s website and link the frame to the account during the frame setup.
On a computer you can either transfer the photos through a web browser or through the PhotoSpring app. On your mobile device, you’ll need the PhotoSpring app.
For example, on my iPhone, with the PhotoSpring app installed, I signed into my PhotoSpring account and was able to choose photos from my camera roll to transfer to the frame. I could also choose to send all the photos to the frame as I take them with the phone. You can also choose to transfer videos as long as they are less than 1 gigabyte in size.
Photos and videos do not live on PhotoSpring’s server. You upload the photos to PhotoSpring, but they only stay there long enough to bounce over to the frame.
If you wish, you can allow others to send photos to your PhotoSpring frame.
Those people will need to create their own PhotoSpring account, and you’ll have to give them permission to connect with your frame from your PhotoSpring account. Once the permissions are established, they can send photos to your frame, but they can’t see other pictures on your frame or delete any items from your frame.
You don’t have to have a computer to manage the guest connections. You can administer guest access through the frame’s Settings.
The user interface for the PhotoSpring is pretty slick. Photos transferred to the frame land in an album of all content. You can separate them into playlists (slideshows) and even hide those you don’t want to be included in slideshows.
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Pick up the frame and touch the screen and you’ll see icons appear at the edges of the screen to allow you to do things like start and stop slideshows, set a photo as a favorite, filter the visible photos and manage playlists. You can also hide or delete photos.
Once you have the images you’d like to display, you can simply set the PhotoSpring in the dock and the slideshow will begin by itself. If you pick up the frame to look at photos, you double tap the screen to stop the slideshow and then you can flip through all the pictures as you like.
The PhotoSpring frame has a 10.1-inch touch screen with a resolution of 1,280 x 800 pixels. It has a four-hour lithium-ion battery. The frame measures 11.2” x 7.9” x 0.8” and weighs 1.6 pounds.
It has 802.11 b/g/n networking.
Compatible formats for photos are JPG, PNG and GIF. Video formats include MOV, MP4, M4V and AVI.
There are dual 2-watt stereo speakers for video playback.
The 16-gigabyte PhotoSpring can hold about 15,000 photos or 40 minutes of video and costs $149. A 32-gigabyte version holds twice as much for $169. Do yourself a favor and spend the extra $20 for double the storage.
Available frame colors are white, black, maroon, turquoise, sea foam green or sky blue.
I’m impressed with the versatility of the PhotoSpring. Getting pictures and videos to it was straightforward. Sharing the access was easy and worked perfectly. The pictures look very good, although the aspect ratio was not perfect for viewing all pictures.
This is a great frame for parents or grandparents who love to show off photos to their friends.