Why Digital Frames Can’t Beat Old-Fashioned Frames

Written by Mark Rogers

The development of digital cameras revolutionized photography and changed the way most people take pictures for good. The introduction of digital cameras quickly morphed into an even greater revolution: camera phones. These versatile devices make it easier than ever to keep a camera with you and take pictures all the time. With modern photography firmly planted in the digital format, a natural development was the digital picture frame. Instead of taking the extra step of printing out pictures to view, they could simply be uploaded to a frame and displayed in their digital format. Even better, digital frames can hold hundreds of pictures – rather than a single shot – so you can view more of your pictures without making more prints and changing out photos.

While digital frames have their uses, they haven’t caught on to the degree people once thought they might, and they certainly haven’t replaced physical prints and old-fashioned wood picture frames or metal picture frames. The drawbacks of digital frames outweigh the advantages for many picture display settings.

Pictures and Plugs

One of the biggest limitations for digital picture frames is their energy requirements. Without electricity, a digital frame is just a blank-screened gadget. The need for power complicates the logistics of using digital frames and makes them more expensive to operate.

Many digital frames work by plugging into a wall, which is fine if the frame can sit on a table or stand close to an outlet. It is a serious limitation if you want to hang a frame on the wall due to the fact you’ll have cords hanging from all of your photo frames. A power cord is not an attractive addition to most wall décor!

The other option is to use frames that rely on batteries. This can get expensive and is not environmentally friendly. You can use rechargeable batteries to somewhat lower the costs, but they cost more upfront, and you’ll still need to frequently change out the batteries and recharge them. This is a lot more maintenance than a printed photo in an attractive frame, which is basically zero maintenance because you can simply mount, frame and hang the picture – and then leave it alone.

Other Digital Drawbacks

Digital frames are more expensive at the outset than an ordinary wood or metal frame. It can quickly become prohibitively expensive to trade out several normal frames for digital versions. Lower cost digital frames display lower quality pictures as well, so you may not be able to have photos as nice as high-quality prints to look at. You can invest in a frame with high picture quality, but, again, that raises the expense. It may also raise the associated energy costs if you purchase a larger frame with a brighter screen.

Digital frames also can’t match all of the experiences that looking at physical prints provide. A traditional photo album may not hold as many pictures as a single digital frame can, but there’s a visual and tactile joy in paging through a photo album that scanning through pictures on a screen can’t match. True, this is a subjective measurement, and some people will notice the difference more than others. But just like using e-book readers and tablets can’t truly replace the experience of reading printed books for many people, viewing digital photos can’t completely take the place of viewing physical prints. Creating an album or scrapbook gives you the chance to create a photo story in a way that a digital frame simply cannot do.

The Value of Digital Frames

Digital frames do have their place. Many people buy a digital frame to keep on their desk at work or to put on a table at home in order to supplement the pictures they hang for display on the wall. It can be nice to have more pictures available to view at once by using a digital frame with a rotating display. With people taking more and more pictures, it can be nice to have a place to quickly upload the most current pictures for viewing, especially as people tend not to update their printed photos and artwork very frequently.

Tablets Can Display Photos, Too

It’s also worth noting that tablet devices can easily double as picture display devices when they’re not being used for other purposes. Instead of purchasing a digital photo frame, simply get a nice stand for your tablet and let it display photos when you don’t need it for other uses. A tablet is more expensive to purchase than a basic digital photo frame, but if you already have the tablet it’s not necessary to purchase a separate gadget that only shows photos.

The ability of digital frames to hold and display many pictures is a nice addition to your décor if you want to be able to view more of your pictures in an easy way. The drawbacks of digital frames mean they’ll probably stay in the realm of gadgetry and won’t replace old-fashioned frames any time soon.

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