It’s been a year since my last digital picture frame round-up, and the crop of new digital picture frames for 2008 can best be described as, "Bigger and Cheaper!" because there is more selection in the over 11 inch sizes and because a there has been a general reduction in the prices of all sizes. Below are my selections for best of breed and, as always, I use Amazon as a pricing reference, but you may find better deals elsewhere.
Large digital picture frames (11 inch and larger):
Recall that the stated sizes of digital picture frames are measured diagonally across the screen, but even so an 11 inch model is rather large and almost makes you want to put it on a wall. That’s fine and doable for most units, but remember there will be a power cord hanging down so a better location is on a credenza or shelf or a large desk.
In the large size frames, Opteka seems to be the best vendor with their 11.3 and 15 inch models which are reasonably priced and which get very good reviews:
The Opteka units have wood frames, are easy to set up, and have great pictures as well as 128MB of built-in memory so you don’t have to leave a memory card in the frame unless you want to, although you will need a memory card to hold a large number of pictures. You can also add pictures via USB from your computer.
Be aware that, as with all digital picture frames, the integral speakers for playing MP3 tunes don’t have very good sound quality, but I still regard sound as a dubious feature for digital picture frames – they aren’t intended to be sound systems.
Standard desk size digital picture frames (6 – 8 inches):
Digital picture frames got their start as desk accessories and while you can go smaller or larger, the best size is in the 6 inch to 8 inch range. Many of these will have battery power, but the battery life is usually on the order of an hour so it would only be usable for briefly handing the frame around.
I see that there is a new version of the venerable Philips 6.5-Inch Digital Photo Frame selling for around $75 when it was $168 in 2006 and $130 last year, but the Philips frames have been getting less favorable reviews lately, so I would instead choose one from Sony, Kodak, or Opteka.
Sony has the DPF line of desk size frames with great pictures, but be aware that they are rather pricey.
Kodak as always has its EasyShare digital picture frame line which is well regarded and competitively priced, but also offers more expensive versions that can be accessed wirelessly via Wi-Fi:
Finally, Opteka has a highly rated 8 inch frame with features similar to its larger cousins:
Portable digital picture frames:
There are a variety of digital picture frame gadgets available that allow you to hold and display your pictures on a keychain or a necklace or something else similarly small and portable. In principle there is no reason why this should not work and be a useful niche, but I have yet to see one of these with good reviews. You would be better off putting the pictures into your MP3 player with a screen. Maybe next year this will change.