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Like everything we used to enjoy doing, the COVID-19 pandemic has prevented many of us from being able to casually visit our favorite art galleries and museums. When it came to movie theaters, we were able to adjust by outfitting our living rooms and home theaters with short-throw projectors. And when it comes to recreating that museum experience, we may have a savior in the form of the digital art frame. A relatively new invention, the best digital art frames let you display artwork in your home with stunning clarity, and the images can be changed as often as you like.
This is a product category that is only a few years old, and so there still aren’t a ton of options. But there are a mix of quality and upcoming products from major companies such as Samsung and Netgear. And we’re sure you have some burning questions about the best digital art frames, so let us answer those…
Frequently Asked Questions About Digital Art Frames
If this is your first time hearing about digital art frames, you're not alone. This is a relatively new type of product, and one which will likely grow in stature as art continues to embrace digital mediums. So with that said, here's the low down.
A digital art frame is a display that is built for displaying serious works of art, as opposed to your own photo library. These include classics that have been converted into digital formats, artworks which are natively digital, or artwork from the public domain.
More than just a stripped down TV or a glorified digital photo frame, the best digital art frames have hardware and software features that you won’t find in either of the other products. These include anti-glare displays with wide viewing angles and wide color gamuts for faithful reproduction. Access to internet-connected repositories of artworks that you can add to your device, along with software to facilitate and manage that content. Some digital art frames even curate limited-edition works that can be purchased and displayed on your device.
Generally speaking, no. Most of these digital art frames are built solely to display artwork. But the one exception is Samsung’s The Frame TV, which is a full-featured QLED TV that can do everything that the best TVs are capable of.
While every piece of art isn’t specifically tuned for the digital art frame its hosted on (and vice versa), many of the companies have developed technologies which allow the digital art frames to automatically adjust their sensors to make sure that you’re seeing the works as intended, regardless of the lighting conditions of the room you’re in.
Right now, Samsung is beating the competition with The Frame TV, which boasts a slim, lightweight design, a stunning display and advanced technology. However, The Frame may soon be eclipsed by a new Samsung art frame known as The Wall. Set to be released in 2021, The Wall will feature Samsung's MicroLED technology.
And with that said, here are the best digital art frames you can buy right now.
1. Samsung The Frame
Samsung’s “The Frame” earns our top pick on this list by virtue of the fact that it can function as more than just one of the best digital art frames. The Frame is a full-fledged 4K, QLED Samsung TV available in sizes ranging from 32 inches to 75 inches. It also comes complete with Samsung’s Tizen-based smart TV interface and compatibility with AirPlay 2, Alexa and Google Assistant.
But don’t think of this as just a nice TV with digital art frame technology tacked on as an afterthought. Samsung has clearly taken measures to ensure that this device is equally suited for both use cases. The Frame covers 100 percent of the DCI-P3 color space, which means that it can faithfully replicate any digital work of art that comes its way. It also uses ambient sensors to custom tailor the brightness and color settings to the room so that the artwork in question is faithfully reproduced. And thanks to motion sensors, The Frame knows when nobody is in the room and will turn the TV off entirely to conserve energy.
When it comes to the physical aspects of this digital art frame, The Frame is light enough so that it can mount to the wall using magnets. This makes it super simple to change the orientation of the TV from landscape to portrait at a moment’s notice. If you don’t want to mount the TV, there’s also a minimal tripod stand you can use to set up the TV anywhere you please. Furthermore, this TV uses Samsung’s One Connect box so that you can keep all the wires hidden away and have a single cable that connects to the TV itself.
If there was one nitpick, it would be that Samsung’s Art Store only has access to 1,200 works. But considering those works are coming from premier institutions such as Royal Trust, Saatchi Art and Museo Del Prado, you’ll be receiving the benefit of quality over quantity. And if you somehow happen to get sick of what’s offered, you can always upload your own works that you’ve acquired elsewhere, which is a benefit not offered by all of the best digital art frames.
Samsung will soon introduce more TVs that double as art frames. In 2021, Samsung will release several different models of The Wall, an over-sized TV featuring cutting-edge MicroLED technology. There’s no release date for these products yet (and we expect them to be extremely expensive), but stay tuned for more exciting releases in this space from Samsung.
2. Netgear Meural II
If there’s a single pick amongst the best digital art frames that’s made to appeal to the widest swath of consumers, both in price and features, then it just may be Netgear’s Meural II digital art frame. It may not have the technical specs of The Frame, but it comes in at a much lower price point than The Frame. Coming in 21.5 or 27-inch screen sizes, the Meural II has 1080p resolution, a quad-core ARM CPU and 2 GB of RAM. This digital picture frame also has the ability to easily rotate from landscape to portrait and has a motion sensor that enables gesture-based controls. This means you can easily cycle between artworks or pull up more info with the wave of a hand. And with more than 30,000 works to choose from (which would cost more than $3 billion if you owned the physical versions), you’ll be doing a lot of waving.
3. Canvia Digital Art Frame
With a solid mix of impressive technical features and a solid content infrastructure, the Canvia is a standout pick even amongst the best digital art frames. This frame boasts ArtSense sensor technology, which can adapt the display settings to the light of the room. Even better, the Canvia brings more than 10,000 artworks from over 500 artists to your living room. This 27-inch, 1080p display is powered by an impressive 1.8 GHz quad-core ARM CPU and 2 GB of RAM, this should have more than enough juice to display all the images, GIFs and video loops you can throw at it. And like our pick for the best digital art frame, Samsung’s The Frame, the Canvia also lets you upload your own photos and artworks to expand your content options, while also letting you choose from four different frame designs.
4. IONNYK E-Ink Digital Art Frame
In stark contrast to other digital art frames, the IONNYK Jane and Lina frames are interested in one thing, and one thing only: black and white photography. This is underscored by the fact that this reflective display is powered by e-ink technology (yes, the same technology used by the Amazon Kindle e-readers). As a result, this digital art frame doesn’t use a backlight, which helps to preserve the quality of the photographs and can function for a year on battery power alone, which allows you to hang it anywhere you please without having to think about where you will plug it in.
Furthermore, IONNYK’s digital art frames will exist in a closed ecosystem, which means that you’ll only be able to choose from works that are part of your membership plan or limited-edition photos which you can purchase from IONNYK’s pool of photographers. IONNYK says this has nothing to do with technical limitations and everything to do with respecting the integrity of the art and artists it’s promoting. While these frames are not yet available for purchase, IONNYK plans to bundle them with a free 1-year membership to IONNYK’s photo repository and all limited-edition purchases will come with a certificate of authenticity from the artist when possible.
4. Framed Mono X7
The closest comparison that can be made between the Framed Mono X7 and the rest of our picks for the best digital art frames is that if these were all laptops, the Mono X7 would be a Razer gaming laptop. Framed is definitely positioning itself as an option for a very specific corner of this market, which seems to be gallery curators and hardcore net art connoisseurs. While many works you’ll see in the repositories of these digital art frames are physical works that have been converted into digital files, net art is largely created on digital devices, with the intent of being consumed on digital devices. These are the types of works that Framed is marketing itself around, and judging from the feature set, this is a product that could deliver on that promise. That said, the Mono X7 isn’t available for purchase quite yet, but you can pre-order one right now (and they should be shipping in the very near future).