Aura digital photo frame: the best thing I bought in 2021

A photo of one of my kids bringing sunshine to my coat courtesy of executive Aura Carver.
Photo: Jen Trolio

If you’ve read any of our Strategist Editors articles, you’ll know that our writers and editors buy a lot, and while we think carefully about every thing that goes into our baskets, there are always strengths. To close the year, we asked our employees to write about the best thing they bought in the past 12 months. Today, editor-in-chief Jen Trolio shares the digital photo frame she loved so much that she bought six to connect it to loved ones remotely.

I started researching digital photo frames at the end of 2020 as the first pandemic Christmas was looming. I wanted to buy one for my elderly out-of-state uncle who had been confined to his nursing home all year round, and I was specifically looking for a frame that I could add photos to from a distance. Although his apartment has Wi-Fi and he watches Netflix, he still uses an old flip phone and isn’t too tech savvy. So I wanted to be able to distribute family photos directly in his living room without having him do any repairs.

the Aura Carver Frame adapt to the law. It was well reviewed, and most importantly, I was able to add new photos directly from my phone whenever I wanted, using the frame’s smartphone app. Any other family member or friend that I have invited to contribute could also do so. This idea was so appealing that I bought two more frames – one as a gift for a beloved aunt in Texas and one for my parents (who don’t live far away but love to see photos of their grandchildren).

Aura Carver 10.1 inch Smart Digital Photo Frame

It was easy to organize a collection of photos and engage my siblings and other family members in the fun – all throughout the app – even before the frames were delivered. Setting up a frame as a gift is easier if the recipient has their own smartphone. Aura lets you preload the frame remotely with photos and a gift message. So when it’s shipped straight to your recipient, they just need to download the app and connect the frame to Wi-Fi. (My uncle, with his flip phone, needed help with the Wi-Fi part. Fi, but it was quite easy for an assistant at their school to connect it using their own smartphone.)

The frames were an instant hit and all three recipients expressed how much they loved their gifts. As it turned out, adding new photos also helped start a solid conversation. “Looks like you had a lot of fun ice skating” or “I see you got the gifts I sent!” My family would say.

There’s no limit to the number of photos an Aura frame can hold, and I like having the choice of showing each one for two minutes, five minutes, or ten minutes. The HD screen isn’t too visibly a screen, and the colors are crisp and vibrant. The ability to browse photos without going to the app by touching the frame itself is a nice, uh, to touch, and even though the Carver is self-contained and only found in landscape orientation, it skillfully handles vertical and horizontal images. (Portrait photos are displayed side by side and a ‘smart pairing’ feature can match related photos; if you prefer additional viewing options, you can browse Other styles of Aura mounts.)

In 2021, I bought three more frames: one for my mother-in-law’s 70th birthday, one as a wedding gift for my sister-in-law, and one for myself. That’s six images in total and around $ 850 spent (off the list price thanks to Aura’s frequent sales), and I have no regrets. These frames are simple to update, they look great with just about any decor, and they strike a good balance between displaying physical photos in your home and the unmistakable convenience of the internet age.

Ultimately, what I love most about my own Aura mount is that it means I see some of the thousands of photos that would otherwise be crammed into my and my family’s iPhone photo libraries. Hey, there are my kids at a pumpkin patch! And do you remember that impromptu trip to the beach? There is my husband and I at our wedding! And here’s a pic of our cats looking cute!

The chance to revisit these moments and memories makes the setting a delight to have around. And as a bonus, now that there are so many executives in my extended family, we can all add photos to each other too – it’s almost like having a mini private social network that’s perfectly free for Zuckerberg.

The strategist is designed to bring out the most useful expert recommendations for things to buy in the broad landscape of ecommerce. Some of our latest wins include the best acne treatments, wheeled luggage, pillows for side sleepers, natural remedies for anxiety, and bath towels. We update links where possible, but note that offers may expire and all prices are subject to change.

About Debra D. Johnson

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