Quick Photography Tip
Make sure that the background in your photos doesn't compete for attention
Digital photo frames are new products that replace old paper photo frames in displaying your photos on a desk, on a shelf or on a wall. This article explains what digital frames are, how you can use them and what you should look for when buying one.
Digital photo frames are a good solution if you do not want to display your photos solely on your computer or on paper prints. Digital photo frames are an LCD screen with some electronics behind it that allows you to load photos and display them. Their design mimics old paper prints photo frames. Digital photo frames are thin devices and are designed to be placed on a desk, hung on a wall or put on a shelf.
The price of digital photo frames varies and is mostly driven by their LCD screen size and quality. The cheapest ones start at around $50 and the expensive ones run in the hundreds of dollars or more. There are other features that influence both price and performance. Here are some features to consider when buying a digital photo frame:
LCD size, resolution and brightness: The most important component of any digital photo frame is its LCD screen. The main purpose of a digital photo frame is to display photos and the LCD screen is the component that does that. Decide what LCD size you need based on the distance from which you will be viewing the photos. Check what the LCD resolution is and what the maximum brightness it supports. Brightness is extremely important if you plan to use the frame in an environment that is well lit - for example on your desk in an office that has big windows and a lot of sun light.
Make sure that the digital photo frame can be placed where planned. For example if you plan to put it on your desk make sure that it has the appropriate support for that and that it will be stable and in the angle you want. If you plan to hang it on a wall - make sure that the frame was designed for that and that it has the right accessories.
Memory: Most digital photo frames do not have any built-in memory. Instead they rely on external memory cards that are plugged into a special slot. Check what memory card types are supported by the digital photo frame. Usually you would prefer that the card supported will be the same type as the card you are already using with your digital camera.
Remote control: Some digital photo frames come with a remote control that enables you to remotely change the displayed photo, start a slide show and more. A remote control is important if you plan to control the frame often (for example plan to switch photos manually as opposed to a constant photo slide show) and if you plan to place the photo frame far from where you are (for example if the frame is on your desk right next to you a remote control is not needed but if it is hung on a wall a remote control can be useful).
PC connection: Most digital photo frames can be connected to a computer. This can be useful if you want to load photos from a photo album on your computer hard disk. It is much easier to use a computer in order to choose the photos to display. The PC connection is usually done using a USB cable - although some newer photo frame models support wireless LAN (also known as Wi-Fi or 802.11). A PC connection is a good feature if you plan to load photos often. Wireless support is more expensive and you should choose a frame that supports wireless only of its location is going to be far from the computer and a cable connection will not be convenient - for example if your digital photo frame is permanently hung on a wall a wireless connection is much easier to use than a USB cable.
Non photo features: Digital photo frames include a micro computer that implements photo display logic. Manufacturers found out that with some software changes and minimal added cost they could support more features that really had nothing to do with displaying photos. Examples of such features are: MP3 player, video playback and TV tuner. It is nice to have those added features but it is not a good idea to make your buying decision based on them. Digital frames are usually not the optimal device to play music or videos (for many reasons such as that they are usually located in the wrong place for that, they have low quality speakers and, acoustic and their screen is too small). It is better focus on the basic photo display features such as LCD size, brightness and resolution and only if these are satisfactory to check what other features are available.
Before you buy your digital photo frame take a moment to figure out how you will use it and what your expectations are. Digital photo frames are great products but they do have limitations. Choosing the right digital photo frame and having it on your desk rotating slowly through your photo album is a great experience - one that you could not have before the digital photography days.