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Digital Picture Frame

Get tips for choosing a digital picture frame.

The digital picture frame was invented in 2000 by former Disney executives. [© Jupiter Images, 2010]
© Jupiter Images, 2010
The digital picture frame was invented in 2000 by former Disney executives.

A digital picture frame is also known as a digital media frame. It is an electronic device that displays digital images/photographs in a picture frame without the need to print out or download the digital images/photographs from a computer.


The digital picture frame was invented by CEIVA Logic, a company founded by Dean Schiller and Paul Yanover, former Disney executives, in 2000. The company started as an online-only service, but subscribers can now handle their photo uploading by remote control and can send photos to their frames via Wi-Fi, e-mail, a camera phone or a memory card.

On the CEIVA Web site, users can add custom messages and borders to their images, turning the images into personalized greeting cards. The image itself can be adjusted for brightness, and a group of images can be configured into a multiple image slideshow. The upper-end CEIVAlife service plan allows users to store up to 50 images per slideshow. In addition to their own photos, CEIVA users can receive photos from other users as well as nonusers via e-mail invitation. As of 2009, the Basic CEIVAshare plan starts at $127.99 for the digital picture frame and a one-year membership in CEIVA's PicturePlan service, which includes an e-mail address for sending images to the frame. The PicturePlan service also allows users to send image content from CEIVA channel partners such as ABC News, the Weather Channel, Disney and ESPN News.

Users may upload photos to the CEIVA Web site after downloading the CEIVAsender software. Mac or iPhone users can upload to CEIVA via iPhoto software.

According to CNET, the biggest downfall of the CEIVA service is that the digital picture frame device may no longer be able to store images if the company goes out of business.

Other Digital Picture Frame Services

Kodak EasyShare offers a wide variety of digital photo frames, from its comparatively modest single-image five-inch Digital Frame at $59.95 to its high-end OLED Wireless Frame, which stores up to 10,000 pictures and sells for nearly $1,000. The latter includes a 7.6 flat panel LED display, built-in speakers for playing MP3 sound files, video upload capabilities, 800 X 480 screen resolution and Wi-Fi capabilities for wireless transfers from computer to frame.

Kodak EasyShare also offers a free FrameChannel service for wireless digital frames. This service allows photos to be sent remotely from multiple locations. These images can then be displayed in automatically updated slideshows. In addition to subscriber photos and photos sent by friends and family, FrameChannel provides over 400 channels and an extensive library of image content.

FrameChannel services are also offered by other digital picture frame companies, including Samsung and D-Link, a company best known for its wireless router products. D-Link sells a high-end 10 wireless Internet digital photo frame that has one gigabyte of internal memory and can instantly share images from social networking Web sites such as Flickr, Picasa and Facebook.

Sony sells its VAIO Wi-Fi PhotoFrame, which includes its own full Web browser along with streaming Internet radio from Shoutcast, a provider of thousands of user-created music stations.

Digital Picture Frame Buyer Tips

Less technically savvy users may find that some digital photo frames offer too many features, such as Wi-Fi uploading. Novice users may simply want to display their family photos and little else. However, the high-end Web-enabled features offered by sophisticated products like Kodak's OLED Wireless Frame may appeal to more technically savvy users.

Resolutions for digital picture frames can be blurry when compared to a high-definition television picture. For this reason, PC Magazine recommends that buyers do not purchase frames with image resolutions less than 640 X 480 pixels.

If a prospective buyer wants a digital picture frame to display camera phone photos, the frame aspect ratio capabilities should be compatible with the phone cameras aspect ratio capabilities. For example, most camera phone image aspect ratios are typically 4:3, though some phones offer a widescreen 15:9 aspect ratio option. Owners of these types of phone cameras should be sure that the digital frame is capable of displaying photos in both aspect ratios.

Prospective buyers will also want to make sure that the digital frame is compatible with their digital camera's memory card as well as the buyer's computer operating system. For instance, not all digital picture frames are compatible with Mac systems.

Certain digital frames may not have enough memory to store the desired amount of photos. In such a case, the buyer should look for a frame that has a variety of connectivity options for memory storage devices like Flash memory cards and sticks.

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