Does anyone else feel like the past 20 years have gone by in the blink of an eye? It’s hard to comprehend how far technology has advanced since I was a teenager, but this is exemplified in the quality of my new Nixplay Frame.
I remember buying my dad a digital photo frame for Christmas many years ago. It had a small grainy screen and could only display a small selection of photos from a clunky USB stick. Boy oh boy have things improved. Here are a few reasons you might want to consider buying a snazzy new Nixplay frame for yourself (and maybe convince your friends and family to get one too)!
To avoid confusion, there are quite a few different frame options. The information below relates to the Nixplay Seed 10.1-inch Widescreen Digital Wi-Fi Photo Frame (currently retailing at £149.99), although I’ll also discuss some of the features of the other models.
Nixplay produce two basic types of frame: digital (plays from USB devices and SD/SDHC cards) and WiFi cloud. In my opinion, the latter is far superior as it enables a whole host of useful features I’ll discuss in more detail below.
Specifically, though, it means you can use the Nixplay app to send photos to your frame from your phone. You can also use a link on the website to connect your Facebook, Instagram, Google Photos, Dropbox and Flickr accounts, enabling you to display the images you’ve already saved there directly from the cloud. Not only does this massively increase your memory capacity, it saves the time it would take to create albums/playlists, and means you can send and share photos from anywhere in the world.
For the environmentalists out there, the idea of a screen constantly using light to project images won’t sit well. It doesn’t make sense for your frame to display to an empty room (or worse yet, nosy neighbours!), and that’s why the Nixplay frame is equipped with a motion sensor. You can set the frame to go to sleep after as little as five minutes or as long as four hours. Alternatively, you can use the ‘sleep schedule’ to select the specific times of the day when you’d like it to turn on and off.
Next to the motion sensor is an infrared sensor. This enables the remote control to communicate with the frame. Although you can turn your phone into a remote control through the app (or select various options from the ‘settings’ menu), it’s handy to have a remote within easy reach in case your phone is elsewhere. The remote also functions as a more basic control device for those who are less technologically minded or who don’t own a smartphone.
RANGE OF DISPLAY OPTIONS
For a device that serves only one obvious function, there are an astounding number of options you never knew you needed until you have them.
The first controls how the pictures sit within the frame. Would you prefer the entire image to be visible, even if it means there’s background screen showing within the frame? Is it better to fill the screen, but to cut out part of the image? Would you like the image to pan (move slowly across the screen or gradually zoom in or out)? If a background shows, should it be black or blurred? All of these options are available, in addition to snapshots (images appearing to fall on top of each other) or tiles (a selection of photos displayed in unison with borders between them).
The next controls the way they replace each other. Options include: jump cut (a quick change between images); cross fade (a subtle fade from one image to the next over the entire screen); circle (a gradual fade from one image to the next starting in the centre of the screen); wipe (a bar moving over the screen and leaving the new image behind as it goes); directional wipe (a gradual fade from one side to the other); slice (slices of the image slide up, down or across the screen at different rates until all of the pieces align); move in (an image drops quickly over the previous one); reveal (like move in, but the previous image moves away to reveal the next one underneath); push (one image moves in from the side and pushes the other away as if their edges were touching); fold (the old image moves across as though it were on the side of a rotating cube, to reveal the next image on an adjacent side of the cube); and pixelate (images disintegrate into pixels and reform as the next image). If you can’t decide, ‘random’ chooses an entirely random chain of transitions.
You can also select specific albums or playlists, or tell your device to play only your most recent x number of files. You can add captions, change the interval between each image (from five seconds to one hour) and turn shuffle on or off. It really does feel like your options are limitless.
This particular model has the storage capacity for around 20,000 photos (8 GB), which you can file in named albums and playlists. The space you have left is clearly displayed in the app. The upload speed seems pretty fast (around ten minutes per 100 photos for me, although this will depend on your WiFi connection and the size of your photos). For faster transfer, you can use the ‘optimize photos for upload’ option, which resizes your photos to full HD (as small as possible without compromising on quality).
During transfer, the frame itself provides notifications about received files. This is handy for checking your own upload progress, but also for being able to tell when a friend has shared their own images.
This has to be one of my favourite features of the Nixplay frame. In a world where it’s second nature to view other people’s content and share your own, it seems natural, but still pleasantly surprising, that a digital photo frame would have this ability too. From the perspective of a traveller, this provides two main advantages. First, if your friends also own a Nixplay frame, you can easily share your photos of shared experiences, in the privacy of your own homes, without going public on social media (either by sending files or by sharing access to albums). Second, if you’re going on a long adventure overseas, you can give one of these frames to your loved ones and upload photos from anywhere in the world, kind of like a daily digital postcard.
EASY TO SET UP
The packaged box includes: the frame itself, with an attached cable stand; a power adaptor; an infrared remote; and a quick-start guide.
It’s really obvious how the pieces connect, but if you’re stuck you can check the quick-start guide for a diagram. Once plugged in, your frame powers on, and the rest of the set up instructions are displayed on the screen in a stepwise manner. Language options of English and German are available. First, you connect to your home WiFi by selecting its name from a list of available connections and typing in your password. Then, you download the app to your phone (or log on online) and pair your devices. It’s a good idea to set your location and time when prompted, for reasons I’ll discuss later.
EASY TO USE
Once you’ve cracked the set-up process, it’s time to explore your settings. Both the app and the website are very easy to navigate, but if you have any issues, there are many sources of information, including ‘help’ and ‘tips’ tabs. In addition, Nixplay have posted tutorials on YouTube.
NIFTY EXTRA FEATURES
Depending on which model you choose, the Nixplay frames have plenty of thoughtful added features. For example, if you have your device on standby, you can set it to display a 12- or 24-hour digital clock. You can also display the time in the corner of the screen while it plays your slideshows.
The fact that the device is compatible with different sockets is a handy addition. There are plug/adaptor options for US, UK and EU sockets, and they’re designed in a way that minimises the size and weight of the wiring, while maintaining its durability.
Another advantage is that the frame will display in any orientation (not just portrait or landscape, but upside-down as well), and the way the cable has been designed to double up as a frame support is a touch of genius.
I also really like the way the home page of the app shows a ‘mini frame preview’ of three of your photos to help you identify which playlist is currently playing on your frame.
As if all of the above features weren’t exciting enough already, the Nixplay frame is also capable of showing short video clips. Although they’re currently limited to 15 seconds, both the image quality and sound are exceptional. You might want to use this to add a brief message for your friends, along with the images you share with them.
HIGH QUALITY AND ROBUST
Quality manufacturing oozes from this product from the moment you tear the cellophane from the box; even the packaging is pleasing to the touch! The device itself is light but sturdy. Protective plastic covers the screen and shields the batteries, and it’s easy to remove. The screen’s border is made from a soft, high-grade matt-effect material, while the relief effect on the back adds a level of embellishment that is generally only reserved for long-lasting, trustworthy products. The IPS display produces a crisp and clear image with adjustable brightness levels that can perform even in direct sunlight. Finally, the woven power cable feels like it would survive extended wear and tear over many years of use.
VESATILE FRAME OPTIONS
While I can’t imagine a frame outperforming this one, Nixplay manufacture a wide range of products. In addition to the choice of whether or not you want it to be WiFi enabled, you can also select from various sizes (8 to 17 inches; some with widescreen) and colours. Most come in black, but other options include wood effect, mulberry, blue, mango, peach copper, burnished bronze and silver.
Wall mounting brackets are also available for most models, and some even have the capability to stream Spotify through Bluetooth speakers, or to link up with Alexa.
With such a range of options, the prices vary a lot too, but discounts are frequently available, especially if you buy more than one! If you’re buying through Amazon and would like to discuss your buying options, contact Amazon Customer Services for further help. Alternatively, you can purchase directly from Nixplay’s website. Also included are a 30-day money-back guarantee and a one-year warranty.
Don’t just trust what I have to say though. As the biggest-selling brand of digital photo frame in the US, and with over 8,000 Amazon reviews, 80% of which have more than four stars, it seems I’m in good company with my praise for the Nixplay frame.