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)