There are a lot of options for displaying digital photos, such as slideshows, photobooks, hard copies, and the like. Our personal favorite has always been the digital photo frame. The idea is simple: show photos on an LCD screen and change them periodically.
As with most things, the devil is in the details. There are a lot of digital frames on the market, but they are not created equal. Actually, many of them leave a lot to be desired. When they were first introduced many of them did not have 24-bit, high resolution displays, and those disappeared from the market quickly. Today, all digital frames have bright, sharp displays. What makes a frame stand out nowadays is its ease of use: is it hard to set up, is it easy to manage what images are displayed, how/where are the photos stored, etc.
Over the years, we have reviewed frames (CeivaPro, CeivaShare, Kodak Pulse, Parrot) which we found attractive, technically superior, and easy to use. Today, we are declaring Ceiva the best of the lot. It is not just because Ceiva frames are easy to use, but because they are the ONLY company with digital frames with the following key features (we think any photo frame worth considering MUST have them):
- WiFi or Bluetooth-enabled for maximum placement flexibility
- Its own email address so anyone can send photos directly to the frame
Sure, other companies had frames with similar features, but Ceiva is the one still in business and thus is the clear winner in this product category. After having our two Ceiva frames for a few years, we can say we like the CeivaShare better. We have never had any issues with the CeivaShare frame but did have a couple of problems with the CeivaPro. To Ceiva’s credit, their tech-support was excellent and all our issues were quickly resolved. We also like the cleaner look of the CeivaShare frame. While it is nice that the CeivaPro has controls integrated into the frame, they are rarely required. Also, moving the cursor with the keys was a bit cumbersome. The CeivaShare has an IR remote which is stored in the back, out of the way until needed. Of course, what would be best is a touchscreen…hint, hint. The final reason we like the CeivaShare better is that the CeivaPro has an external WiFi dongle. The dongle can be bent and damaged if the frame is tipped backwards (yeah, we have done that).
There were two other digital frames we reviewed which we liked a lot. The first one was the Kodak Pulse. The Kodak Pulse had features which were actually superior to the Ceiva frames (no annual fees, touchscreen UI). However, after declaring bankrupcy, Kodak no long sells the Pulse. They are still supporting current Pusle owners with free image-hosting, which is nice. We have four Pulse frames, but only two of them are still in service. The other two became defective after a few years of use. We will be sad when the remaining ones bite the dust.
The other frame we liked (and was in use continously for about seven years) was from Parrot. While not WiFi-capable, it did have Bluetooth. Ours “died” about a year ago. The realized the problem with the Parrot frame when it died was that we lost seven years of images, which had slowly accumulated in the internal storage of the frame. We were not able to get it repaired as the frame has been discontinued by Parrot. Too bad, we really liked that frame…mostly because we had it for so long 🙂 Did we mention that Ceiva has unlimited cloud storage for their customers? Yeah, that is a good thing.
With so many “free” photo services available via the Internet, we sometimes forget that a company like Ceiva, dedicated to one task, has to monetize their service in order to provide it. So even though Ceiva frames require a subscription, their excellent customer service, unlimited off-site storage, and the ability to email images directly to the frame makes it well worth the cost, especially for parents and grandparents who like the idea of photos of their kids and grandkids just appearing on their frames without fuss or muss! We are happy that Ceiva is the last company standing in the photo frame fight. We hope they will continue to prosper and be around for years to come.