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 2019 review of the Nix­play Seed 10.1 WiFi pho­to frame - Made for friends & fam­i­ly

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Nix­play claims that its Seed wifi frame is the most pop­u­lar dig­i­tal pic­ture frame in its cat­e­go­ry sold in the USA. And that is prob­a­bly right.

There are over 3,500 Amazon.com reviews on the Nix­play Seed with an aver­age rat­ing of four stars and over a thou­sand answered ques­tions.

The cur­rent mod­el came on the mar­ket in 2017, but the soft­ware has been updat­ed reg­u­lar­ly. So, this is a good time to take a clos­er look to decide if this might be the right WiFi pho­to frame for you or your fam­i­ly.

The slow start of dig­i­tal pic­ture frames

When dig­i­tal pic­ture frames were first intro­duced about fif­teen years ago, they had a rocky start.

The enter­tain­ment val­ue of a pho­to frame increas­es a lot, the more often you add new images to it. And the like­li­hood of you doing this often, ris­es expo­nen­tial­ly with the ease of this updat­ing process.

Tak­ing out an SD card, con­nect­ing it to your com­put­er and adding images to it is so much much more com­pli­cat­ed than tap­ping a few but­tons on your smart­phone. I sus­pect that many non-WiFi pho­to frames in the past have end­ed up in a draw­er a few weeks after Christ­mas (about 40% of dig­i­tal frames are sold around Christ­mas).

But more recent­ly, the gen­er­al inte­gra­tion of wifi, the link­ing with Apple's or Google's pho­to ser­vices, a Cloud-based image man­age­ment and of course the abun­dance of fresh images tak­en with mobile phones has turned dig­i­tal pic­ture frames deserved­ly into a trendy device cat­e­go­ry.

So let's take a look at the Nix­play Seed to see if it's fun to use and like­ly to avoid the fate of Christ­mas past.

This 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 eval­u­a­tion approach.

My tests are unbi­ased. There are no finan­cial or mate­r­i­al dona­tions to be dis­closed. Nix­play has sup­plied me with a review unit for the dura­tion of this test.

The Nix­play prod­uct range

When I first looked at Nix­play, I was a bit con­fused by their prod­uct range. There are so many dig­i­tal pho­to frames to choose from.

But basi­cal­ly, their prod­uct assort­ment is divid­ed into WiFi (Cloud based) and non-Wifi frames.

Four mod­els of WiFi Cloud frames do away with mem­o­ry sticks or cards - except for the old­er Nix­play Orig­i­nal mod­el which still offers a USB and SD slot in addi­tion to WiFi.

It is the Nix­play Iris, the Nix­play Seed Wave, The Nix­play Seed, and the Nix­play Orig­i­nal.

Nixplay's WiFi Frames

The images are uploaded to the Nix­play Cloud and then streamed to as many con­nect­ed devices as you like.

And then there are the NIX Dig­i­tal Frames that are not con­nect­ed to the Cloud but have an SD and USB slot, the Nix Lux and the Nix Advance.

Feed your pic­ture frames with SD cards or USB sticks

So I guess "play" means WiFi as Nix­play has it and Nix doesn't.

To learn more about the key fea­tures of the var­i­ous Nix­play frames, have a look at my Prod­uct Rec­om­men­da­tion sec­tion.

There are some top-rat­ed reviews on Ama­zon that are over four years old where the soft­ware is said to be over­ly com­pli­cat­ed. But Nix­play has evolved their inter­face over time, and it is very straight­for­ward today with­out much dis­trac­tion.

If you need some help with the set­up, check our my arti­cles and videos on the first steps after unbox­ing using either your PC/Laptop or your smart­phone. You will see, it's very sim­ple.

Design & Appear­ance

The Nix­play Seed is a well engi­neered pho­to frame.

The 8-inch ver­sion comes in black, mul­ber­ry, blue and man­go, the 10, 10.1 and 13-inch ver­sions only in black. The frame col­or is fixed; the frame ele­ments are not inter­change­able.

Look ma, no fin­ger­prints!

Although the frame is made of plas­tic it has a pleas­ant touch & feel. It seems to have some sort of stain "resis­tant" coat­ing, so fin­ger prints do not leave a vis­i­ble trace.

It is quite slim with a depth of 9 mm. Like an Apple iMac it gets a bit thick­er in the mid­dle but you only real­ly see the nar­row sides. The back is grooved and has a sub­tle checks pat­tern.

Instead of a stand, the Nix­play Seed has a rigid woven pow­er cord which acts as a stand that you can adjust in many ways in both por­trait and land­scape ori­en­ta­tion.

You can have it straight or any way you like

I quite like this idea because it hides the nor­mal­ly ugly white pow­er cord in a clever way and pro­vides ample flex­i­bil­i­ty set­ting it up. Com­pared to a rigid stand, you can adjust the incli­na­tion as you best see fit.

I read some crit­i­cism on Ama­zon that it would not be ide­al on some sur­faces, but I have tried it in var­i­ous ways and it worked just fine.

In the cor­ner, there are two vis­i­ble sen­sors, one for infrared and one for the motion sen­sor. I would have liked for these sen­sors to be hid­den as they reduce the per­cep­tion of a real image frame.

As I have learned that women have a bet­ter taste, I checked with my wife to see if she minds, and to my sur­prise, she was okay with it and quite liked the frame's look. A good sign!

There is no pow­er LED or oth­er dis­turb­ing light.

The dis­play

The Nix­play Seed comes in two dif­fer­ent aspect ratios. The 8 and 10-inch mod­els have an aspect ratio of 3:2, where­as the 10.1 and 13.3 mod­els have 16:10.

I have writ­ten before about the impor­tance of aspect ratio.

In a nut­shell, the more you devi­ate from the orig­i­nal for­mat in which the pho­tos were tak­en, the more the image will have to be cropped if you want to avoid show­ing black bars on the sides ("pil­lar­box­ing").

A stan­dard DSLR cam­era has a 3:2 aspect ratio, most smart­phones 4:3. 16:9 is typ­i­cal­ly a video for­mat, and unfor­tu­nate­ly it has tak­en got­ten so pop­u­lar with dis­play man­u­fac­tur­ers that it has become chal­leng­ing to find non-16:9 dis­plays.

So it is refresh­ing to see that the Nix­play Seed still offers 3:2 although only up to 10 inch. 16:10 is also not too bad for DSLR pho­tos. So be care­ful when you pick your desired aspect ratio.

As a pho­tog­ra­ph­er I would always get a 3:2 pic­ture frame - as long as you can.

The dis­play has a mat­te coat­ing to reduce reflec­tion, and I would cer­ti­fy that they have done a good job here. The Nix­play Seed uses an IPS dis­play which pro­vides excel­lent col­ors across all view­ing angles.

The dis­play has a res­o­lu­tion of 1280 x 800 px which results on a dots-per-inch val­ue of almost 150 which makes images look very sharp.

The Seed is for place­ment on a sur­face only; there is no wall mount.

Hard­ware

It's some­what strange to talk about a dig­i­tal frame as a com­put­er, but that's what it is. Albeit a one-trick com­put­er.

The sys­tem is noise­less and does not have any mov­ing parts, except obvi­ous­ly for the adjustable wire stand.

It comes with b/g/n Wifi, that is the fast one. In your router, it will appear as some­thing like "android-1b9b­b43d4c9e6c2c".

The Seed does not have any SD slots or USB con­nec­tors, but that's what WiFi is for.

It does have two speak­ers for video play­back, but the qual­i­ty is that of a small speak­er in a pic­ture frame.

If you want large speak­ers, have a look at the Nix­play Seed Wave.

Pho­to Man­age­ment Approach

The Nix­play Seed is Cloud-based, which means that all images are stored on Nix­play servers first and then streamed to the pic­ture frame.

You can do this either via your smart­phone app (for iOS and Android) or through the brows­er on your PC or lap­top.

Both the Nix­play mobile and desk­top app are very easy to use. There is even a spe­cial tablet-sized app avail­able.

Cre­at­ing playlists is a child's play

I tend to pre­fer the desk­top app because if you have a fold­er of images, you can upload them in one go. Maybe I am old-fash­ioned, but this works a lot faster for me than doing it on my phone.

Most peo­ple will prob­a­bly do the ini­tial image upload in the brows­er app and casu­al­ly add images via the smart­phone over time.

You can allow friends & fam­i­ly to add images to your playlist by send­ing them a link but will also get a per­son­al Nix­play email to which you can send images.

You can also link your Nix­play account to Google Pho­tos, Insta­gram, Drop­box, Face­book, and Flickr.

Going social

Videos are allowed up to a dura­tion of 15 sec­onds.

Over­all, the image man­age­ment imple­men­ta­tion of Nix­play is sim­ple, fast and leaves lit­tle to be desired.

Image view­ing options

Nix­play has done a very nice job with image tran­si­tions, often a weak point of pic­ture frames. There are eight dif­fer­ent ways of dis­play­ing your pho­tos includ­ing

  • Fit to screen where the image is shown uncropped and the result­ing bars (if the iaspect ratio of the image is unlike the aspect ratio of the frame) have a col­or that is present in the image.
  • Fill screen - pho­tos are stretched so that you won't see any black bars.
  • Pan - slight­ly moves the image
  • Pan & zoom - Mov­ing and zoom­ing
  • Tiles - show four pho­tos as the same time and rotate the images indi­vid­u­al­ly
  • Snap­shot - every image has a small white frame around it and they are stacked like if you were look­ing through a num­ber of pho­tos.

You can also spec­i­fy play­back of only the lat­est 100, 200, 500 or 1000 images.

The tran­si­tion time can be set to any­thing between 5 sec­onds and one hour.

You can have a clock dis­played and even an image cap­tion that you entered when the pho­tos were added to a playlist.

With all these types of dis­play­ing your images, you can choose hard cuts (jump cut), cross­fades, cir­cles, wipe, slice, reveal, push, fold, and pix­e­late. In the begin­ning, it is prob­a­bly eas­i­est to set it to the ran­dom mode and then deter­mine your favorite tran­si­tion type.

The Nix­play desk­top soft­ware

You may have read about me favor­ing cross­fad­ing tran­si­tions because it reduces dis­tur­bance by sud­den bright­ness changes to a min­i­mum.

You can define indi­vid­ual playlists that you can pop­u­late man­u­al­ly. There is some smart playlist in the sense that you can choose only to dis­play the most recent images.

Gen­er­al frame con­trol & oper­a­tion

You can set up the frame in either por­trait or land­scape posi­tion, and the frame will auto­mat­i­cal­ly change ori­en­ta­tion much like you are used to on mobile devices these days.

The remote con­trol comes in real and vir­tu­al

The Nix­play Seed comes with a well designed remote con­trol (that looks and feels like the back of the frame) but you can equal­ly con­trol it with your mobile device or on your com­put­er.

I am not sure how "grand­ma com­pat­i­ble" the remote con­trol is. But since you can con­trol the frame via the inter­net, the kids could always help - pro­vid­ed the frame is plugged in and con­nect­ed to the wifi.

If you unplug the frame, it recon­nects auto­mat­i­cal­ly to the wifi net­work and resumes oper­a­tion.

But the ini­tial set­up requires a bit of patience although Nix­play makes it as easy as pos­si­ble. But this is prob­a­bly not a pic­ture frame that you can send to a non-tech­ni­­cal per­son and expect him or her to set it up.

But once it is set up, it requires no real main­te­nance. Unfor­tu­nate­ly, you can­not set up every­thing and ship the frame to be ready to go because the local WiFi can­not be pre-pro­­grammed.

If you want to save your­self some man­u­al read­ing and frus­tra­tion, check out my videos on how to get start­ed using a mobile device or a com­put­er. They are less than five min­utes long and will get you going in no time.

Ener­gy man­age­ment

I mea­sured ener­gy con­sump­tion of 6 Watts, which is as expect­ed for a frame of this screen size.

The motion sen­sor can reduce this even more, but I am not a fan of hav­ing to walk in front of a frame to turn it on. But any­way, you can turn the sen­sor off if you don't like it.

Besides, the pho­to frame can be timer con­trolled.

Cabling Options

Instead of hav­ing a thin white cable dan­gling out of the frame, the Nix­play design­ers have put some seri­ous thoughts into one of the most annoy­ing fea­tures of pic­ture frames, the cabling.

The black thick cable dou­bles as a ful­ly adjustable stand and there­by clev­er­ly hides the cable. This is much bet­ter solved than oth­er solu­tions that I have seen. Bra­vo, Nix­play!

The pow­er cable is hid­den in plain sight

Man­u­fac­tur­er

Although I haven't seen offi­cial mar­ket data to back it up, judg­ing from the online dis­tri­b­u­tion pres­ence and their own claims, Nix­play is prob­a­bly the glob­al num­ber one dig­i­tal pic­ture frame brand by unit num­bers for res­i­den­tial use.

Found­ed by Mark Pal­free­man, the com­pa­ny has been around for over ten years and has sold a mil­lion frames. The frames are com­pet­i­tive­ly priced and well designed, come with clev­er­ly thought through apps and a cloud ser­vice.

Should Nix­play be forced to stop oper­a­tions one day, your frame would become expen­sive junk (it will still work, but you can't add new pho­tos). But let's face it, that is the case with all cloud-based ser­vices. How­ev­er, I believe that the advan­tages far out­weigh any the­o­ret­i­cal risks, so this is not an issue over which you should lose any sleep.

Pric­ing and sub­scrip­tion ser­vices

When you buy the Nix­play Seed, you can use the Nix­play cloud ser­vice free of charge up to a capac­i­ty of 10 GB pic­tures. That cor­re­sponds to about 8,000 pic­tures and should be more than enough. If you need more, you can sub­scribe to Nix­play Plus, but I fail to see the need ever aris­ing.

Sub­scrip­tion only need­ed for pow­er users

Con­clu­sion

If you are look­ing for a good look­ing wifi pho­to frame to put on a desk, the Nix­play Seed is a very good choice. The hard­ware is clev­er­ly designed, the cable well hid­den in plain sight, and the soft­ware mature and pow­er­ful. I am not sur­prised that this is the # 1 pho­to frame in this cat­e­go­ry.

The fact that you can remote­ly add images to frames at your par­ents' or grand­par­ents' place makes this a great device for shar­ing your lives among the entire fam­i­ly.

(Pho­tos: Nix­play and own images)