A Buyer's Guide to Digital Picture Frames

Slide show Features

Nearly all digital picture frames allow you to display your photographs in different ways and manage your memory cards. Typical features include:

  • Show a single picture
  • Show a slide show
  • Show pictures in sequence by name or date
  • Show pictures in a random order*
  • Set up a custom slide show from the pictures stored on the picture frame.
  • Display a clock and photos.
  • Display a clock, calendar and photos
  • Alarm
  • View pictures as thumbnails to choose pictures manually for display.
  • Automatically re-size photos to fit the screen, crop or add boarders
  • Zoom in and out of a photo
  • Select the interval before the next picture is shown in a slide show. This can be as little as 3 seconds to 24 hours.
  • Transition effects as photos change. These can be selectable for all pictures or random.
  • Display photos with information from the Exif data
  • Copy photos from a memory card to the internal memory.
  • Delete photos from memory
  • Re-size a photo
  • Manual rotation for use with frames that do not use Exif data or pictures with no orientation exif data.
  • Colour, brightness, contrast

This is a sample of common features available with digital picture frames. Check the picture frames specifications for the actual features included.

* The random option will depend on the frame. Some will only show each picture once until they all have been displayed and some will just be totally random meaning some pictures may get displayed many times and other picture may not get displayed at all.

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Auto Rotate

Digital cameras take photos in the landscape orientation. To take a portrait orientated picture the camera is rotated 90 degrees. When the photo is displayed on a computer or digital picture frame it is shown as a landscape style picture. Making everybody have to simultaneously tilt there head to view the picture like a group of puppies. Some digital cameras have a sensor to tell which way round the camera was being held when the photo was taken. The orientation of the camera is then saved with the photo in extra information call Exif data. Digital picture frames with the Auto Rotation option can read this extra information and will rotate the photo to the correct orientation before it is shown.

If your camera does not have an orientation sensor then your photo will be shown as landscape. The Exif data will most likely be lost if you save a photo after using a image editing program or other computer software to save photos with, so once again they will be shown as landscape photos.


Replaceable fascias and real frames

Some digital picture frames come with replaceable fascias so you can choose a fascia that matches in with your room the best. Typical colours available are black, brown, silver, white and wood. There are some frames that allow you to fix them into a conventional picture frame giving you complete control on how they look. Now take some portrait picture of yourself pulling different faces and freak your friends and family out when the picture keeps changing!

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Connectivity

USB (host), wireless, TV out, HDMI, Audio.

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USB Host

Some digital picture frames have two USB ports. One will be a standard sized port so that a USB flash drives can be used like a memory card, the other will be a smaller mini B type connector which is used to connect the frame to a computer. This allows you to transfer photos to the picture frames internal memory directly.

USB type A USB Mini-B
Top: USB type A (Standard USB connector) Bottom: USB Mini type B

Wireless

Some digital picture frames allow you to send pictures to the internal memory using a WiFi wireless connection. This works in the same way as using the USB host option but gives you the advantage of being able to hang the picture frame on the wall and update it from a computer nearby. It is even possible to buy Grandma a picture frame and update her photo collection from across the internet allowing her to see all those wonderful pictures you have taken of the grand kids. Just don't accidentally send her your private photo's, you may make her false teeth fall out.

Wireless frames can also be used to view pictures stored on Photo sharing websites such as Flickr, galleries on Facebook or allow friends and relatives to email your picture frame their latest photos. With content services such as FrameChannel you can view news, sports scores and other media information directly on your digital picture frame throughout the day using a RSS feed. You can also connect directly to a computer and view photos stored on teh hard drive.

Some picture frames can receive photos from mobile phones and PDA's via a bluetooth connection.

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PictBridge

Pictbridge is a feature that allows you to connect a digital picture frame to a pictbridge compatible printer and print out your photographs without the use of a computer. This involves connecting the frame to the printer via a USB cable.

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Firmware

Firmware is the built in program that the digital picture frame needs to display the photos and all the other features the frame has on offer. From time to time a manufacturer may decide to update the program, possible because a bug has been found or they have improved a feature or even added additional feature. Rather than just applying this update to new digital picture frames they will release a firmware update so existing owners can update there picture frames as well.

To get a firmware update, go to the manufacturer's website and check the support or customer service section. Look for sections like downloads, software updates or firmware updates. Follow the instructions precisely for your digital picture frames model only. Never try to use a firmware update for another model or similar model unless specifically instructed to.

To update your frame you will need to download a file from the manufactures website and copy it to a memory card. When the memory card is inserted in the frame and switched on it will update the firmware automatically. Don't turn the frame off while the update is in progress even if it looks like it is not working as this could cause the frame to completely stop working as it will have no working program installed to view your photos with. Some updates may require the frame to be connected to a computer.


Other uses for picture frames

View photos from your digital camera, use as a clock, listen to music, show digital pictures on your TV, watch videos files, view media content from the internet such as news, larger display for docked media devices.

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