Digital Picture Frame Overview

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Digital cameras have changed the way people take pictures. Instead of limiting the number of shots we take to prevent running out of film, we can now take pictures of anything and everything and just delete the ones we don’t want. Instead of having to mail reprints to limited numbers of family and friends, we can simply email them to everyone.

The worst thing about digital cameras is that you don't automatically get prints. You can easily have prints made of any images you want, and you can even print them yourself, but most people don’t print all the pictures they take. There are just too many of them. While you can always view digital pictures on a computer or TV screen, there is a better way to display them.

What are digital picture frames?

A digital picture frame is basically a small LCD monitor that’s designed to look like a conventional picture frame. Most digital picture frames can be set up in either portrait or landscape orientation, and they can stand on a table or hang on a wall. Like a digital camera, a digital picture frame contains a certain amount of built-in memory and/or a memory card slot that lets you increase the storage capacity as much as you like. The digital picture frame will then “play” a slide show of its contents.

If you know someone who doesn’t have a digital picture frame but think they might like one, now’s a great time to buy one. They’re very affordable in general, and many are loaded with features that might never have occurred to you. They make great gifts, even for people who’ve never used a digital camera or computer. If you have non-technical relatives who don’t want to deal with anything modern, you can simply load up a digital picture frame with family pictures and give it as a gift, fully loaded. All they have to do is turn it on.

Sometimes a certain family member will object to displaying a digital picture frame, saying that they don’t have anywhere to put it. But you don't need a permanent location for a digital picture frame; you can simply haul it out for holidays, parties, graduations, weddings and even, on a more somber note, for funerals. Some digital picture frames have to be plugged into an AC outlet, while others can be AC-powered, but also have a built-in rechargeable battery. The rechargeable units will work anywhere, even if there’s no outlet nearby.

What can digital picture frames do?

Naturally, any digital picture frame can display JPEG images. That goes without saying. And some digital picture frames can also display BMP and TIFF images. No real surprise there, either. However, some digital picture frames have built-in speakers, either mono or stereo. That allows them to play MP3 and WAV audio files, so you can have music or even a few choice words spoken by the people in the pictures as a soundtrack.

Once a digital picture frame has built-in speakers, it’s only logical that it could be made to play video files, and many of them can play M-JPEG, WMA, AVI and MPEG-1, 2, and 4 video files. This makes a lot of sense because most digital cameras can now shoot video as well as stills.

Some digital picture frames come with software that you have to run on a computer to create slideshows, with various playback speeds and transition patterns, while others have more advanced controls right on the frame itself that let you do the same thing. Some advanced frames have touch-screen controls. You can have the frames display random slideshows or create playlists containing specific images, and you can combine music and other audio files with the images, as long as the frame has built-in speakers.

There are other features that make digital picture frames easier to use and more versatile. Some frames feature an orientation sensor that automatically rotates images so they appear right-side up, and others offer automatic image resizing so that all of your images, regardless of their resolution, will fill the display as best they can. Some include clock, calendar and alarm functions so you can replace your old-fashioned alarm clock with a modern digital picture frame that doubles as an alarm clock.

Some digital picture frames can even be used as secondary PC monitors. To use the feature, you have to connect the frame to a computer via USB, and install or download special software that makes it all happen. Lots of frames come with a remote control so you can operate them from the comfort of your easy chair.

At least one digital picture frame has a built-in photo printer that allows PC-free printing. Guests can simply walk up to the frame and press a print button when they see an image they like.

What is the size range of digital picture frames?

There is no standard size for a digital picture frame; they come as small as 1.5 inches and as large as 19 to 32 inches. Like a monitor or TV set, digital picture frame sizes are measured diagonally. The smallest digital picture frames are designed for use as key chains, but they are not that tiny. While they’ll easily fit in a purse or briefcase, you probably wouldn’t want to carry one around in your pants pocket all day long. These tiny frames typically have a resolution of 128 x 128 pixels.

The next step up in size is 2.8 inches. While too big for a keychain, these are nonetheless intended to be kept in a purse or briefcase to show off the kids or grandkids or that new summer house, while you’re on the go. The 2.8-inch screen size bumps up the resolution to 320 x 240.

There’s also a 3.5-inch size that looks like a conventional picture frame and is the perfect size for a bedroom nightstand.

B&H carries only one digital picture frame with a 5.7-inch display, with the next largest popular size being 7 inches with a native resolution of 480 x 234 pixels.

There are also quite a few 8-inch frames with 800 x 600 resolution and some 8-inch models with a wider aspect ratio and native resolution of 800 x 480 pixels.

You’ll also find a selection of digital frames between 9 and 12 inches in size with various native resolutions. Then, there are the really big ones.

There are 15-inch displays with a 1024 x 768 screen resolution, at least one 19-inch unit with a 1440 x 900 pixel resolution and at least one that’s a gigantic 32 inches in size with a native resolution of 1366 x 768 pixels.

How do you load images into a digital picture frame?

The most basic digital picture frames contain a certain amount of internal memory and a USB port. You simply connect the frame to a computer via USB and the frame shows up looking like a flash drive, and then drag and drop images to the frame until the memory is full. Internal storage capacity can range from just 8MB all the way up to 4GB. Sometimes you can plug a USB flash drive into the frame’s USB port and transfer files from the flash drive to the frame that way.

Lots of digital picture frames have a built-in card reader that’s compatible with SD cards at the very least or, at best, a multi-card reader compatible with CF, SD, SDHC, MMC, MS Pro, MS Duo and xD cards. Usually, you can load up a memory card with images from a computer and then just pop the card into the frame and have it display everything you copied to the card. Most frames with built-in card readers also have a USB port so you can just pop an empty card into the frame, connect the frame to a computer via USB, and load in new images that way. If you already use a particular type of memory card, just make sure the frame you’re interested in supports that format.

Some digital picture frames feature Wi-Fi and/or Bluetooth connectivity, which lets you connect the frame to your home network, another computer or cell phone, wirelessly, and you can update the contents that way. Some frames can even be programmed with a unique email address so that friends and family can send photos to it from wherever they might be. Some frames can link to friends and photo albums on Facebook and other photo-gallery websites, so you can see new pictures on your frame when they're posted. At least one frame can automatically connect to the AT&T wireless network and receive a certain number of images for free; you can purchase additional packages to get even more photos in the same way.

Can I find a digital picture frame to match my décor?

One of the nice things about digital picture frames is that they don’t all look the same. They’re available in real wood, metal and plastic. They come in all colors. Some have an interchangeable mat and frame design that lets you change the appearance in a snap. Others come with clips that let you place a favorite frame you already have over the display to match your décor or to match the appearance of another frame in your house.

The Takeaway

Buy a digital picture frame with enough memory to store all the pictures you want it to, or get one that lets you install high-capacity memory cards.

You can find a digital picture frame that matches the décor of the room you want to display it in.

Buy a digital picture frame with a rechargeable battery if you want it to use it away from an AC outlet, or outdoors.

Match the size of a digital picture frame to the location you have in mind for display.

Buy a digital picture frame that uses the same memory cards you use in your digital camera.

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42 Comments

Do any of the frames display raw files?  

Unfortunately, these frames would not have the ability to display a RAW file. 

Why on earth would you want to display a RAW file image?

Thanks, these are so cool!!

Are there any  Picture frames that allow you to connect an external hard drive? I have over 100 000 photos and would like  a frame that can randemly selects these photos and htrough me a memory surprise...

Hi Arieh -

Hard drives will typically need to be connected to a USB host like a computer.  Digital picture frames will accept USB flash drives. The USB input on frames typically will not power an HDD nor it will it have an OS or drivers to be able to read or access the stored files.

Hi I'm looking for a keychain digital photo frame no bigger than 2.9 in. That has a way to expand memory or has a 1 GB of internal memory a little under 100 $

B&H no long carries keychain digital picture frames.  Unfortunately, I don’t know what options might be on the market from other vendors. 

Im looking for digital frame to use at outdoor market so seeing image in bright sunlite is important, and battery life...and ease of use, im not a tecki

While a digital photo frame may suit your needs, for signage purposes I would also suggest looking into commercial monitors as these have been designed for just that purpose, many of which will offer an SD card slot, better battery life and larger sizes. I would recommend emailing us at askbh@bhphoto.com and let us know how large of a screen you were looking for approximate run time it would need, and your budget range. 

it can read pen drive when there battery is low....

I'm looking for a 10" digital photo frame that loads and replays photos from a camera memory card.  Where can I find one? 

Hi Carol -

Relive your precious memories with the 10" Digital Photo Frame from Aluratek. You can enjoy your photos, videos and audio in an all-digital format. This 10" "true digital" LCD panel with 1024 x 600 pixel resolution ensures your digital photos will be displayed in clear detail and vibrant color. With 4GB of internal memory, you can store hundreds of your multimedia files onboard to display them anytime you please.

This modern-looking black frame also features 2 built-in speakers that are well-suited for playing back music files or arranging a slideshow of images with background music—do this with the simple touch of a button. The frame supports SD and SDHC memory card formats for easily transferring shots taken with your digital camera. Or, you can connect the frame to your computer using its high-speed USB 2.0 interface to input audio, video and photo files.

For added day-to-day convenience, this versatile digital device offers a built-in clock and calendar. Additionally, feel free to kick back and control the unit in comfort from the couch, your favorite chair, your bed, or anywhere else using the included remote control. The Digital Frame is a dual-voltage device, meaning it's compatible with outlets anywhere in the world; however, a region-specific plug adapter may be required.

Digital Signage Solution

The Digital Photo Frame is also a suitable digital signage solution. Provide a clear message to your customers by propping up this device on a flat surface like a table or mounting it to a frame on the wall. Showcase videos of your product or service in action or play a greeting message, tutorial, or educational video. You could also use pictures in slideshow mode to tell a story, display business hours, sale items, specials, menu boards, and more. The possibilities are up to you.

Slideshow Support

Aluratek's 10" Digital Frame enables you to set photo slideshows to background music. Slideshows can be configured to play photos in various display and transition modes. Photos will be automatically resized to fit the LCD screen in a 16:9 aspect ratio.

Multimedia Experience

This digital frame supports various media formats. In addition to photos, it plays videos and music through the frame's integrated stereo speakers. Connect a storage device such as a USB hard drive, USB flash drive, or insert an SD card into the photo frame to access your media content. Transfer and store files quickly and easily from your personal computer to the frame's 4GB of built-in memory with the included USB 2.0 cable. A compact remote is included for ease of operation and control.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Great article. I have a 1 TB external drive containing photos from my mother's 35 photo albums that i would like to set up to rotate through an 8 or 12 in digital frame in her home.  i'm hoping not to spend a fortune on it but want it to work given the time/money i've already put into digitizing everything.  would love your suggestions.

Hi Kim -

Click on the link below for recommendations:

Aluratek 12" and 8" Digital Photo Frames

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

i have a proline 15" digital picture frame.  My pictures are on a usb flash drive.  All are in order and upright.  When I put them in the frame they are out of order and some are sideways.  Driving me crazy, what can I do to stop the random order.  Thanks

We do not carry Proline Digital Picture Frames, and unfortunately, I’m not finding much information online about their products (or a dedicated site for them).  If there isn’t a setting to change whether or not the photos shuffle randomly, this might just be a feature of the frame.  Though, I would suggest contacting the vendor you purchased the frame from.  They should hopefully be able to get you the manufacturer’s information.  That would likely be the best option for trouble shooting what might be occurring with your frame. 

I bought a Nikon D7100 from B&H and I am looking for a high resolution 15"-24" digital photo frame to display NEF, JPG, or TIF format landscape photographs that I have taken.  I don't post these photos on the internet but would like to have a way to search and change what is being displayed.  What thumb drive works best with digital frames and does file size affect the displays ability to work properly? 

The largest digital photo frame we currently offer would be 18.5” and will only support JPG file format. There are no file size limits mentioned in the User Manual for these, likely there is not limit as long as the file are .jpg, I however would expect extremely large files taking longer to load. You can use af USB thumb to simply add or remove photos as you like via your computer. There is not going to be one thumb drive that will be more capable than any other for this purpose, though I would recommend something slim. Below are the links to for frames meeting your size criteria, as well as a thumb drive recommendation. *Andrea

http://bhpho.to/1Pg4BtG

http://bhpho.to/1TaKcEd

Thinking of getting one with wifi option for a senior. Would like to email photos to the frame and have images simply appear on screen. Is that possible? Thanks!

Hi R-

I wish a product like that existed.  Great idea! 

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

I have a few LCD computer monitors at home that I would like to convert to picture frames. Is there any simple product you can offer (say a USB) that will automatically play the slideshows? I have been told that the moniors don't have a software/processors so it wont work.

Hi -

This B&H Kit features a WD TV Streaming Media Player and 1TB Elements Portable Hard Drive. Western Digital's WD TV Streaming Media Player allows you to stream movies, view the latest videos, catch up on shows, stay connected to your social network, and watch highlights from the biggest sports games of the season directly from your hard drive.

WD's 1TB Elements Portable Hard Drive is a convenient, high capacity option for anyone with a lot of videos, photos, music, and files that they want to their files keep safe while playing them on the WD TV.

When you combine the two together, you can conveniently view your entire media library, home videos, slideshows, and favorite songs on your TV from anywhere you choose to set them up.

This Kit Includes:

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Is there a way to have the photos diplayed in a certain order, such as by date?  Or do the files have to be renamed?

Hi Lori -

The slide-show features of most quality digital picture frames will allow a custom ordering of your images for the slide-show without renaming the files.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

If i store my photos on a digital frame, can i then quickly locate one particular photo?   Are they stored under separate files? Like if i have say, 2015 Holiday in Australia, will i be able to locate that file? like on a computer? Or will i have to plough through ALL the photos to find it?  Just a thought as i would like it as basically an external hard drive that i can whip out at any time to show any particular photos/event. Don't want to have to scroll through till i find the photos i want to display.  Thanks. :) 

Yes, these days for the most part these are standard functions of most digital frames.  Make sure to look for models which offer slide show features etc as they will have the necessary ability to view through photos in the manner you are indicating.  Below is a link to a recommended frame for you to consider.  If you would like further recommendations, feel free to email us at askbh@bhphotovideo.com

http://bhpho.to/1EB9iZ1

Great article! I am looking for a picture frame, 10" - 15", that displays in portrait mode. I want to use it mostly as a sign display at my library and the majority of signs are in portrait mode. Any suggestions?? 

Below are links to several recommended digital frames which meet your criteria for you to regard on our website:

http://bhpho.to/1BzPIXg

http://bhpho.to/1HjKmGB

http://bhpho.to/1F8KLs9

when i take pictures and down load them i loose other ones on there why and when i go to internal memory they aren't there neither

Please send an e-mail to askbh@bhphotovideo.com with more information about how you are downloading the images. Please include your camera model, as well as photo frame model as it will help with troubleshooting.

I am looking for a digital picture frame that has both internal memory (preferably 512 MB or more) and random mode (pictures come on randomly) for under $60.  Thanks!

Hi Patty -

Relive your precious memories with the 8" Digital Photo Frame from Aluratek. You can enjoy your photos, videos and audio in an all-digital format. This 8" "true digital" LCD panel with 800 x 600 pixel resolution ensures your digital photos will be displayed in clear detail and vibrant color. With 4GB of internal memory, you can store hundreds of your multimedia files onboard to display them anytime you please. Additionally, this frame comes equipped with a built-in motion sensor that will automatically turn on when movement is detected up to 10' away.

This modern-looking black frame also features 2 built-in speakers that are well-suited for playing back music files or arranging a slideshow of images with background music—do this with the simple touch of a button. The frame supports SD and SDHC memory card formats for easily transferring shots taken with your digital camera. Or, you can connect the frame to your computer using its high-speed USB 2.0 interface to input audio, video and photo files.
For added day-to-day convenience, this versatile digital device offers a built-in clock and calendar. Additionally, feel free to kick back and control the unit in comfort from the couch, your favorite chair, your bed, or anywhere else using the included remote control.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Hi ... My family is putting together a museum display that will memorialize our father's life and career.  Included will be a digital picture frame with a slide-show of pictures ... the obvious solution is a computer & monitor running Powerpoint.   This is not practical in a public environment ...  I need a picture viewer, hung on a wall, with a 2-button remote that is accessable to the museum visitor who can turn it on and button thru the stored pictures .... is something like this available ?

Yes, see the following link for a recommended frame from Aluratek which is a 14” sized screen with 4gb built-in memory (and can be expanded using SD type memory cards).  It will give you the ability to create a slideshow with music and activation can be done with the touch of a button on the screen or via the included remote.  See the following link for details. http://bhpho.to/1EB9iZ1

can these digital picture frames display a raw file

Unfortunately, the digital picture frames will not be able to display RAW files.  The photos would need to be JPEGs.

Most of digital image frames keep company with code that you simply have to be compelled to run on a laptop to make slideshows, with varied playback speeds and transition patterns, whereas others have a lot of advanced controls right the frame itself that allow you are doing constant factor. But i love your all snaps, and the way you describe about snap picture frame all are nice ..

Do these frames only play slideshows, or can you manually look at the pictures - for instance, I am interested in something to insert an SD card in that you can manually go through the pictures at your own speed (this happens when you have another half who hunts and is researching things he can use to look at game camera pictures) :)  Thanks!

Hi Peggy -

Most of these frames will offer a manual  or programmed mode so the images can be scrolled at a pre-set pace or one at a time.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

Which digital frames enable you to change the frame?  I am looking for a digital frame with a gold frame and haven't been able to find one.

- Julia

Hi Julia -

I am sorry Julia, B&H does not currently offer any gold color digital picture frames.

Please contact us via e-mail if you have additional questions:  AskBH@BandH.com

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