I’ve had the opportunity to try out a dozen or so connected digital photo frames over the past several years. The latest in the Nixplay Iris. This is an option that’s actually been available for two years, but it’s still one of the best options overall that I’ve tried out.
The downside of many of the digital frames I’ve tested has been the setup. It can be downright arcane, and the situation tends to be made worse with some of the versions that have made their way onto Amazon from China—instruction translation isn’t always their strong suit. Touchscreens at the digital frame price point are also often inaccurate, which can make entering information difficult.
Nixplay did away with the touchscreen altogether. You start by connecting the Iris to your Wi-Fi network using an included remote and virtual keyboard. This takes a little longer but there are fewer errors and no finger smudges. Once connected, it checks for an update, directs you to a website to create an account (you really can’t avoid creating an account when it comes to digital frames), and displays a unique ID key to associate the frame to the account.
Unlike some connected frames I’ve dealt with, it is also extremely easy to set up the Iris on one Wi-Fi network, then clear the info—without having to do a factory reset—and pair it to a new network. This situation comes into play with gifting, where you might buy the frame and pre-populate it with photos before sending it off.
Easy to Upload Photos
Nixplay also makes it easy to upload photos to the frame. I used my iPhone first, where the company’s mobile app makes it a quick task to choose photos and even gives the option to take them with comments. I found the easiest method was to log into the account on a PC, where I could bulk upload photos from my digital photo library.
Nixplay also makes it easy to share photos, which is the primary point of a connected photo frame. Sure, it lets you upload your own photos wirelessly, but you can also give friends and family permission to upload photos to the frame from wherever they might be. So long as they have an internet connection, those pictures make it to the frame. You can also upload photos from social media accounts, and the frame supports playback of 15-second video clips, complete with audio.
I was able to have my in-laws pick out a selection of photos and remotely upload them to the frame without any technical glitches or lengthy explanations required. Log into the account and you have control over the uploaded photos and can delete any you don’t want. I should mention that there is 8GB of local storage. Photos that are uploaded to the 10GB of free Nixplay cloud storage will then download into local storage until it’s full—once photos have been downloaded, the frame will function and display them even if Wi-Fi is down.
Attractive Design, Nice Display
Nixplay did a nice job of making the Iris look like a photo frame. It’s not overtly high tech (unless you count the dimpled back) and the metal finish makes it look like a quality item that will blend in nicely with decor. No white plastic here… The Iris can be used in either landscape or portrait mode, and the integrated flex stand does a good job of keeping it stable and at the angle you want.
The display isn’t especially high resolution, but on an 8-inch panel, you have to get pretty close to start making out pixels. From a few feet away it looks just like a photo. This is an IPS display, so viewing angles are pretty good. Nixplay also includes manual controls (via the remote control) that let you manually adjust color levels to your liking. Naturally, you have full control over settings like transitions and timing, picking photo playlists, and you can also choose how the frame displays photos that aren’t already optimized for its 4:3 aspect ratio.
A built-in light sensor adjusts backlighting to local conditions and an activity sensor can turn the frame off when no one’s in the room.
The woven cloth power cord has a premium look, but it is really thick. I can understand this approach for the part that’s physically connected to the frame—it’s also concealing the strong wire that flexes to form a stand. But the rest of the power cable could be thinner. If it drops down behind an edge you won’t see it, but if the cable is in view at all, it’s pretty hard to ignore.
Also, I know the entire point of the Iris is to be a connected frame, but I still like it when manufacturers include a USB port. It’s always handy to have the option of sideloading photos with a thumb drive.
Neither of these issues impacts the frame’s ability to do its job well.
Nixplay Iris Key Specs
• 8-inch IPS display at 1024 x 768 resolution (4:3 aspect ratio)
• Supports landscape or portrait orientation
• 8GB local memory, 10GB free cloud storage
• Integrated flexible power cable/stand
• Light sensor with dimming, activity sensor
• Includes remote control
• Alexa-enabled (for switching playlists)
• Upload photos via Nixplay mobile app, PC, social media accounts
• Built-in speakers
• Supports video clips up to 15 seconds
• Available in Peach Copper, Burnished Bronze, and Silver
Should You Buy It?
If you’re interested in a digital photo frame, the Nixplay Iris is a great example of the advantages in making the leap from side-loading photos to Wi-Fi connectivity. It’s also a reasonably affordable choice—$200 when it first came out, it’s now priced at $179.99 (Amazon currently offers a $20 coupon on top of that). There were a few things I’d change (like that oversized power cable) and despite the convenience of Wi-Fi I don’t think it would hurt anything to still have a USB port, but I was quite happy with the Nixplay Iris.
One of these would make a great Mother’s Day gift, and hey, that was pointed out in GeekMom’s 2017 Mother’s Day gift guide…