How to buy digital photo frames

Digital photo frames have proved a huge hit in the shops since they were launched in 2005, and the choices are growing all the time. The good news is that digital photo frame prices are decreasing and quality is improving, so now is a great time to buy a digital photo frame. The market growth means you face lots of decisions when deciding which to choose.

Digital photo frame e-starling

The best digital photo frames have bright clear pictures

Pixels mean quality

The ideal would display your images as clear as a printed photograph. As this is nearly impossible, we recommend looking for the greatest number of pixels that you can buy.

A frame with a resolution of 800x480 (384,000) pixels has three times more pixels than a 480x234 (112,320) model. These figures may seem impressive, but even basic digital cameras now have upwards of five million pixels (5Mp) – these digital photo frames can barely show half a million. That's why downsampling is important. A good frame can reproduce a 5Mp photo without losing too much detail.

Some digital photo frames will also give a contrast rating. You will see a figure and then a colon and then the number 1 when this is quoted – for example 300:1 or 500:1. Basically the larger the first number the better the contrast quality of the digital photo frame.

What size digital photo frame do you need?

are available in different sizes, matching those traditionally used for real prints. The smallest digital photo frames are found on keyrings, but these are more of a novelty item. The most popular digital photo frame sizes are seven to 10 inches. Digital photo frame size is measured diagonally, like televisions. Resolution generally increases in line with frame size, but not always.

Frames usually either have a 16:9 aspect ratio like widescreen TVs, or 4:3 like a traditional TV. If you choose one with a 16:9 aspect ratio then you'll need to set your camera to shoot in that format otherwise your photos will appear with black borders. 

Digital photo frames are far more intrusive than print photo frames, as their display is constantly changing, so be careful to choose the digital photo frame size that's right for your room.

Digital photo frame display options

With some , whatever way you turn them, the picture will rotate accordingly. Not all digital photo frames do this, but it's a nice option to have.

Just about all digital photo frames offer slideshow options. You can vary the amount of time a digital photo is displayed for, and choose a favourite transition to go from one to the next.

Some digital photo frames have an internal clock so you can set which times of day they turn on or off. And budding filmmakers might like a digital photo frame that sports video playback and built-in speakers, although sound quality is normally pretty poor.

High street retailers

We recommend viewing some digital photo frames in person before you buy. This will help you decide if the digital photo frame will complement the style of you home and give you a better idea about the quality of picture to expect. You could even take along a memory card of your favourite photos to see whether the digital photo frames do them justice.

Buying digital photo frames online

Electronic goods are often cheaper online than in store, so it’s worth shopping around to find the best prices possible.