Why you should care
Because all it takes is an email. No pesky cards or cables needed.
Remember five or 10 years ago when digital photo frames were an “it” gadget to gift to your relatives? Chances are many of them are collecting dust in a closet somewhere or still plugged in, forgotten, on an office shelf — and not updated since little Billy lost his first tooth in 2005.
A revamped offering might help resurrect the digital photo frame. Skylight is a new Wi-Fi-enabled LCD frame that lets anyone email photos directly to it using a dedicated address (e.g., firstname.lastname@example.org). It’s a potentially nifty solution for those who might not want to fiddle with USB cords or memory cards to download photos to a digital frame manually — like your grandma — or those of us who have photos stuck in a cloud somewhere. On the 7-inch touch screen, frame owners can swipe through photos, delete them and even click a heart button in the corner to send a thank-you to the photo sender. The Skylight, available for preorder for $109, can hold up to 2.6 GB of photos, which the company estimates is about 1,000 images.
Cofounder and recent Harvard MBA grad Michael Segal had his nearly 90-year-old grandmother in mind when designing the frame: Photos of her great-grandkids are all she asks for these days. And in our digital world, where very few of us spend the time and money to create a photo book or get prints at the drugstore, a digital photo frame can still be relevant in 2015.
Digital photo frames might be useful for people who don’t use social media.
But is adding Wi-Fi smarts enough to resurrect the humble digital photo frame? Apparently more than 400 Kickstarter backers think so. And there are already other frames that let you email photos directly to them: Nixplay ($100), Pix-Star ($200) and Ceiva ($150), to name a few. However, some of the issues with those first digital frames still exist: Breakdowns are always a concern with gadgets, and with technology changing all the time, you never know what new features will be available on future models. And high-tech frames won’t last forever — as a real-life print in a metal frame might. Plus, a 2015 issue: The Skylight must be plugged in to power (no battery option).
Philadelphia-based photography consultant Neil Binkley isn’t so sure the new frame will catch on with everyone. He’s one of the many who gave a digital frame to his parents for Christmas a few years ago, though it was likely “sitting in a box unused” when the grandkids weren’t around. Now his mother has stopped using it, in favor of her iPad — which is “really a picture frame,” Neil says. The real competitors with digital photo frames these days are tablets, smartphones and social media sites — although, he notes, digital photo frames might be useful for people who don’t use social media so much.
Still, for your friends who have sworn off Facebook or those relatives who’d rather see your wedding and baby pics on their living room mantels, the Skylight might be a good photo-sharing solution. Segal says that down the road, the frame may include support for captions and videos, basically adopting many features you might see on Instagram or Flickr. So when you’re beaming your photos to Grandma, you could also send along some extra love.