Review: Nixplay Seed Wave Wi-Fi Digital Photo Frame
By: Brad Moon
Digital photo frames are a great way to display all your favorite photos in limited space. The latest generation of Wi-Fi connected frames add the ability to wirelessly upload photos from virtually anywhere — no USB thumb drive or SD card required — and add the ability to give friends and family access so they can also upload photos to share. That sharing feature, in particular, makes Wi-Fi frames great gifts. I just wrapped up testing on a pair of Wi-Fi digital photo frames from Nixplay: the Iris and the Seed Wave.
Before breaking out some specifics about the two frames, I wanted to talk about the features they share.
Both use IPS displays that offer good color reproduction, plenty of brightness and wide viewing angles. A good display panel is critical to a good digital photo frame, and these do the job nicely. Nixplay also offers advanced features like the ability to tweak the color settings, and manually set brightness levels (or use the built-in ambient light sensor to adjust brightness based on room lighting conditions).
Local storage for the frames is 8GB, and Nixplay includes 10GB of free cloud storage. There’s no USB port or SD slot for side-loading, but once you’ve uploaded photos to these frames they are stored locally so you still see them even if the Wi-Fi network goes down.
Besides displaying photos, both can play videos up to 15 seconds in length.
Both frames use Nixplay’s woven cable-stand design. This is a very thick, woven power cable that connects to a very thick, bendable cable connector attached to the back of the frame. The result is a stand that keeps the frame securely at whatever angle you want, and in whatever orientation — landscape or portrait — you wish. It works well, and the woven power cable has a premium look, but it’s also very noticeable if you aren’t able to hide it.
Nixplay’s app for sharing and uploading photos is available for Android and iOS. Recently updated, it’s pretty easy to use. The expected functions are there — primarily the ability to select photos and share them with a frame. You can also do this with a computer and Nixplay’s website, and can choose to upload photos from your social media accounts like Facebook. The one thing you won’t find is photo editing capabilities.
The app doubles as an easy way to edit settings on the frame, but you can also do so locally. The frame displays aren’t touch-enabled (fine in my books, that just means fewer fingerprint smudges), but Nixplay includes a wireless remote for navigating settings and also has controls to skip forward or back in a photo playlist.
Nixplay Seed Wave
While the Iris does the job of sharing and displaying photos just fine — and looks like a traditional photo frame while doing it — Nixplay’s Seed Wave is a little more interesting.
It’s considerably larger, with a 13-inch widescreen display that has Full HD (1920 x 18080 resolution). The frame portion is black plastic, so it resembles a tablet more than a traditional photo frame. And the Seed Wave has an extra feature: hidden behind the display are a pair of drivers, each with 5W of amplification. That’s right, this digital photo frame does double-duty as a Bluetooth speaker. It actually sounds pretty decent as well, and Nixplay includes a rubber strip in the box that will help prevent the Seed Wave from jumping around on a smooth surface if you crank up the tunes.
I’m not sure who asked for a combo digital photo frame/Bluetooth speaker, but it could be useful in situations where space is limited. Don’t get the idea that you could load up a movie on the Seed Wave and watch it in Full HD with booming stereo sound, though — like the Iris, Nixplay limits the length of videos you can upload to 15 seconds.
The downside(s) of going big? First, while that widescreen looks great with many photos, with others it’s more of a mixed bag. Most cameras don’t natively shoot photos in that aspect ratio. Some of my photos ended up with black bars on the side (even when Pan & Zoom are enabled), although you can choose to replace the black with a blurred background based on the photo being displayed that’s less noticeable. You can see that effect in my photo of the Seed Wave displaying a shot of the Chateau Frontenac.
The second issue is the power adapter. It’s big. Larger than some laptop chargers, but the brick plugs directly into an electrical outlet, so it takes up a lot of space. You can see that in several of my photos — there is 3-inches between the bottom of the power bar and the top of my test bench, but that’s too little space for the Seed Wave power adapter and it had to be rotated so the power cord sticks out the top.
Seed Wave Key Specs:
13-inch widescreen Full HD (1920 x 1080) IPS display
8GB local storage, 10GB free cloud storage
Ambient light sensor, activity sensor
2 x 5W drivers Bluetooth audio
802.11b/g/n Wi-Fi, Bluetooth 4.0
Includes remote control
Connected digital photo frames make great gifts, especially for friends and family who may live far apart. Nixplay has the most comprehensive collection of frames I know of, with tons of options including a range of panel sizes and resolutions, and different colors and materials for the frame itself. Both the Iris and Seed Wave are good frames, although I suspect most people would end up preferring the Iris — it’s smaller with a more traditional aspect ratio, has a much more compact power adapter and costs less.
Something to keep in mind with Mother’s Day approaching!