The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon
The 100 best digital picture frames on amazon

My review of the FRAMEN Play­er 2019 with Stream­ing Tech­nol­o­gy

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The FRAMEN Play­er is a 21.5-inch dig­i­tal pic­ture frame that was devel­oped in Ger­many. After recent­ly get­ting a favor­able impres­sion of the FRAMEN Pho­to App, I spent two weeks thor­ough­ly test­ing the Play­er.

Designed in Frank­furt for the world

Just as Apple prints "Designed in Cal­i­for­nia" on their prod­uct pack­ag­ing to put "Made in Chi­na" a lit­tle behind, FRAMEN can right­ly say that their pic­ture frame is a prod­uct of Frank­furt engi­neer­ing and design art.

The FRAMEN Play­er is avail­able in black and white

Advised by the engi­neer­ing office Zuehlke from Eschborn, a sub­urb of Frankfurt/Germany, the founders start­ed over a year ago to build a uni­ver­sal­ly deploy­able dig­i­tal pic­ture frame.

What makes the FRAMEN Play­er spe­cial is the stream­ing-based image stor­age solu­tion. This allows a high degree of flex­i­bil­i­ty in han­dling and play­back.

A breath of fresh air

The mar­ket for high-qual­i­­ty dig­i­tal pic­ture frames is rel­a­tive­ly small. Although there are a large num­ber of small­er pic­ture frames, there are prob­a­bly no more than ten man­u­fac­tur­ers for sizes over 20 inch­es.

The prod­uct genre, which start­ed around 2006 with lots of enthu­si­asm, was not able to impress in the years that fol­lowed with com­pelling ideas and designs. The soft­ware devel­op­ment was more of an after­thought, and most designs were mediocre, to put it mild­ly. No won­der that many dig­i­tal pic­ture frames giv­en at Christ­mas end­ed up in the draw­er.

In the last two years, how­ev­er, the mar­ket has expe­ri­enced a breath of fresh air. Prod­ucts such as Samsung's The Frame, Meural's art-sub­­scribed pic­ture frames and FRAMEN's mar­ket entry last year give hope that the mar­ket will become more sophis­ti­cat­ed.

The com­pa­ny FRAMEN gave me a FRAMEN Play­er for test­ing pur­pos­es. In addi­tion to the white frame pro­vid­ed, the pack­age also includ­ed a black remov­able frame.

My prod­uct review is based on my arti­cle "The ulti­mate 10 point check­list for buy­ing a dig­i­tal pho­to frame", where you can read in more detail about my approach.

My tests are unbi­ased. There are no finan­cial or mate­r­i­al dona­tions to be dis­closed.

Look & Feel

In addi­tion to the frame, the ship­ment includ­ed a remote con­trol with bat­ter­ies, an upright sup­port, and a wall brack­et.

The FRAMEN Play­er has a neat­ly fin­ished 57.5 cm x 37 cm inter­change­able wood­en frame, avail­able in black or white. The frame is fas­tened with six screws and can be quick­ly dis­as­sem­bled with a small coin. The remov­able frames can be pur­chased sep­a­rate­ly in white or black for € 99.

The frame comes with a white passe-partout of coat­ed card­board in a width of 2.5 cm.

The passe-partout looks very stur­dy and can be cleaned eas­i­ly with a damp cloth.

The FRAMEN Play­er has a vis­i­ble motion sen­sor inte­grat­ed into the passe-partout in the cor­ner (in the pre­vi­ous mod­el the sen­sor was still in the mid­dle) and next to it a small hole for the infrared sen­sor, which is used for the remote con­trol.

I'm not a fan of vis­i­ble sen­sors, but I read­i­ly admit that after a few days, I hard­ly noticed the sen­sors any­more.

I couldn't spot any dis­rup­tive LED lights in the front or back.

The ini­tial set­up is a bit tedious with the remote con­trol until the WiFi con­nec­tion is estab­lished. After that, most func­tions can be used via the app, and the IR remote con­trol can be put away. A short man­u­al would be help­ful.

The dis­play

The screen has a diag­o­nal screen size of 21.5 inch­es, so it is 47.5 cm wide and 26.6 cm long.

The res­o­lu­tion is 1920 x 1080 pix­els, which cor­re­sponds to a pix­el den­si­ty of 102 pix­els per inch (val­ues around 90 are good, high­er is bet­ter). This results in a sharp mon­i­tor.

The aspect ratio is indus­try-stan­­dard 16:9, which is suit­able for video play­back (which FRAMEN Play­er is not yet capa­ble of) and dig­i­tal sig­nage appli­ca­tions.

For the pre­sen­ta­tion of pho­tographs tak­en with an aspect ratio of 3:2, it requires about 15% crop, unless you accept that the images are shown with side­bars, which doesn't look very nice.

Unfor­tu­nate­ly, it is a prob­lem of the dig­i­tal pho­to frame mar­ket that there are hard­ly any frames over 20 inch­es that have an aspect ratio that is suit­able for stan­dard 3:2 pho­tog­ra­phy. Pho­tog­ra­phers can only choose self-build solu­tions, but the avail­abil­i­ty of 16:10 mon­i­tors also con­tin­ues to decline.

The man­u­fac­tur­er indi­cates the screen as mat­te, but I found it some­what glossy. The light reflec­tions were stronger com­pared with a matt mon­i­tor from ASUS but with­in an accept­able range.

The col­ors are rather neu­tral. In a direct com­par­i­son with a (much more expen­sive) col­or-cal­i­brat­ed iMac mon­i­tor, a sub­tle dif­fer­ence was notice­able in the red tones.

Front view: To the left the FRAMEN Play­er, to the right an Apple iMac

The view­ing angle sta­bil­i­ty was less con­vinc­ing. The dis­play is an IPS type and should have an issue with this.

How­ev­er, col­ors and black tones seemed some­what fad­ed and low in con­trast when viewed from the side. A com­par­i­son with oth­er mon­i­tors con­firmed the less pleas­ing view­ing angle sta­bil­i­ty of the FRAMEN Play­er.

Side view: FRAMEN Play­er to the left, Apple iMac to the right

The FRAMEN Play­er comes with a wall fix­ing that allows both hor­i­zon­tal and ver­ti­cal mount­ing. This is par­tic­u­lar­ly rel­e­vant for busi­ness appli­ca­tions.

Com­put­er Hard­ware

Inside the FRAMEN Play­er is a mod­ern Android board.

There is no fan, and the noise lev­el is 0 dB. Even the pow­er sup­ply, which some­times pro­duces a buzzing noise with sim­pler mod­els, is silent.

The onboard WiFi sup­ports both 2.4 and 5 GHz, which is espe­cial­ly use­ful for the FRAMEN's stream­ing tech­nol­o­gy.

There are var­i­ous con­nec­tors on the back, but they are for main­te­nance pur­pos­es only. Images are always trans­ferred wire­less­ly, so you don't need a USB port or SD card slot.

The FRAMEN Play­er is very flat but comes with an exter­nal pow­er sup­ply. If you want to use a mains con­nec­tion direct­ly behind the frame, this is unfa­vor­able, because the pow­er sup­ply is not built into the mon­i­tor. Since the wall mount­ing of the frame cre­ates a cer­tain dis­tance to the wall any­way, you may hide be able to hide the pow­er sup­ply behind it.

Image Man­age­ment

In this are the FRAMEN Play­er starts to shine. The soft­ware is one of the best I've seen in this appli­ca­tion.

Since it can also be used with oth­er man­u­fac­tur­ers and for DIY projects, I have an in-depth review in my post "The FRAMEN soft­ware suite for dig­i­tal pho­to frames, tele­vi­sions and mobile devices".

FRAMEN uses stream­ing tech­nol­o­gy and uploads all images to Ama­zon and Deutsche Telekom cloud servers. From there they are then sent by playlist to the con­nect­ed pic­ture frames.

Images can be uploaded very con­ve­nient­ly to playlists either via the mobile app or via the brows­er on any plat­form. The eas­i­est way to do this on your mobile is via Cam­era Roll, where you can pick your favorite pic­tures.

I pre­fer upload­ing via the brows­er, but this also works very swift­ly.

In the free FRAMEN Pho­to App, you can upload as many pic­tures as you like at the same time. When upload­ing via brows­er, only 20 images can be uploaded at a time, but that is not too much of a nui­sance. The stor­age lim­it is 2 GB, which equals about 1000 pic­tures. If you need more, you can get a sub­scrip­tion.

It is just as easy to delete images. You can also share playlists with oth­er peo­ple ("Pub­lic Link") and allow them to upload their images. Sort of a "Fam­i­ly & Friends" fea­ture.

FRAMEN offers over one hun­dred thou­sand free stock images sort­ed by cat­e­gories.

There is no inter­face with Drop­box or Google Pho­tos. But the FRAMEN Play­er solu­tion is so com­fort­able that I don't see this as a down­side.

With the stream­ing solu­tion, you are not bound to a spe­cif­ic loca­tion, as you do not com­mu­ni­cate direct­ly with the frame, but always with the "cloud." The cloud then con­trols the deliv­ery to the FRAMEN Play­er.

Videos are cur­rent­ly not sup­port­ed. In a lat­er release, this may be the case.

Image play­back options

As already com­ment­ed in my arti­cle about the FRAMEN soft­ware, there is still room for improve­ment con­cern­ing the play­back con­trol.

As already com­ment­ed in my arti­cle about the FRAMEN soft­ware, there is still room for improve­ment con­cern­ing the play­back con­trol.

Cur­rent­ly, only one playlist can be select­ed. Accord­ing to FRAMEN, mul­ti­s­e­lec­tion is on the devel­op­ment agen­da, but not yet imple­ment­ed.

Also, pho­to playlists fol­low the defined order; a shuf­fle play option would be very desir­able.

Frame con­trol with the FRAMEN Pho­to App

The FRAMEN Play­er only offers to fade to black between two images. I much pre­fer a cross-fade for pri­vate users. For busi­ness cus­tomers, how­ev­er, this point is less rel­e­vant.

The slideshow delays can be set from five sec­onds to 24 hours. You can also pause an image, which is very con­ve­nient.

The FRAMEN Play­er dis­plays the name of the pho­tog­ra­ph­er for stock images or the name of the uploader for own images in small let­ters in the low­er right cor­ner. This is because of the agree­ment with the pho­tog­ra­phers.

Images can be dis­played in full-screen mode, or with bars if the aspect ratio of the pho­to does not match the frame's for­mat.

Also, images can be rotat­ed.

On the mobile app, you can see at any time which pic­ture is cur­rent­ly shown on the pic­ture frame or frames. The func­tion is very well imple­ment­ed and most handy.

Add images and con­trol of the dig­i­tal pic­ture frames

Gen­er­al frame con­trol and oper­a­tion

The FRAMEN Play­er includes a remote con­trol which is only need­ed for switch­ing the frame on and off after the ini­tial set­up. All oth­er func­tions can be accessed via the FRAMEN Pho­to App. This also includes the bright­ness con­trol of the screen.

The Play­er has a motion detec­tor that can turn the frame on and off. In the sys­tem set­tings, you will need the remote con­trol again, and the delay can be set. Select Dis­play -> Human Sen­sor.

There is cur­rent­ly no inter­face to Ama­zon Alexa or Google Home.

Ener­gy effi­cien­cy

I mea­sured 23 watts in nor­mal play­back mode and less than 1 watt in stand­by mode. This is a good rat­ing.

Cabling

The FRAMEN Play­er has an exter­nal pow­er sup­ply with a rel­a­tive­ly unob­tru­sive 2m cable. A flat cable ver­sion is not offered.

Pric­ing and sub­scrip­tion ser­vices

The FRAMEN Play­er comes at €499. I could not find a reduced street price. The play­er can be pur­chased either direct­ly from FRAMEN or online.

You do not need a sub­scrip­tion for nor­mal use. The free pack­age is lim­it­ed to about 1000 pic­tures and three con­nect­ed play­ers. That should be enough for most peo­ple.

Above that, there is a pre­mi­um pack­age for €119 per year, which allows ten play­ers, 100GB mem­o­ry (approx. 50 000 images) and 1000 pic­tures per upload at the same time.

Espe­cial­ly for occa­sions such as wed­dings, the Event Pack­age offers the same fea­tures as Pre­mi­um but can be sub­scribed to month­ly as a short-term sub­scrip­tion for €19.

Con­clu­sion

The FRAMEN Play­er is a very durable dig­i­tal pic­ture frame, that is pow­ered by a com­pelling soft­ware.

It may even become the per­fect soft­ware for dig­i­tal pic­ture frames if the issues I men­tioned like playlist selec­tion, shuf­fle play, and image tran­si­tions are being addressed in future releas­es.

When rec­om­mend­ing a pho­to frame, the intend­ed use is cru­cial.

From where I stand, the FRAMEN Play­er is very well qual­i­fied for busi­ness appli­ca­tions and events. It is stur­dy, has well-engi­neered soft­ware, is easy to use, and is high­ly ver­sa­tile. It also offers con­tin­u­ous tele­mon­i­tor­ing of all con­nect­ed frames. For dig­i­tal sig­nage appli­ca­tions, this is a much cheap­er alter­na­tive than the cur­rent ones.

I am some­what unde­cid­ed when it comes to rec­om­mend­ing this for home use or pho­tog­ra­phers. On the one hand, the soft­ware is per­fect for fam­i­lies and friends. On the oth­er hand, the qual­i­ty of the screen mer­its an upgrade.

But any­one who has tried the stream­ing tech­nol­o­gy with their pic­ture frames is unlike­ly to go back to local stor­age.

Stream­ing makes man­ag­ing your pho­tos, the weak point of many dig­i­tal pho­to frames, very easy.

For a pic­ture frame gets bet­ter with reg­u­lar image updates and a high vol­ume of pho­tos. And the eas­i­er this process is made for the user, the more he will enjoy his image play­er - both in busi­ness and pri­vate life.

In this regard, the FRAMEN Play­er sets new stan­dards.