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Lifewire / Anton Galang
Crisp, bright HD display
Plug-and-play USB and SD card inputs
8GB USB drive comes included
No Wi-Fi or smart features
16:10 aspect ratio not optimal
Video limited to 720p
Mediocre audio quality
If you're not looking for Wi-Fi or cloud features, the NIX Advance 10-Inch digital photo frame is an appealing, affordable, and easy way to showcase your pictures and videos.
We're so used to our home products coming equipped with Wi-Fi connectivity and smart features that the NIX Advance 10-Inch might seem outdated at first glance. It plays your pictures and videos only from a USB drive or an SD memory card, and there's nothing fancy about its design.
But once you put the frame to work doing what it does best—displaying your digital memories at home or at work—you may be surprised. If you don't need connectivity, the NIX Advance looks great and does everything else you'd expect, making it our top pick among the best digital photo frames.
With its unassuming matte black frame, the NIX Advance doesn't draw attention with unique aesthetics or make any bold design statements. It's designed to disappear and let your photos take the spotlight—a sensible priority for a picture frame. The 10-inch diagonal screen is an ideal size, too. It's big enough to see your pictures across a decent-sized room without dominating the space.
It's designed to disappear and let your photos take the spotlight.
There are settings to rotate the display by 90-degree increments, but the fixed position of the stand behind the frame means it's really only designed for landscape orientation. The frame feels sturdy and stable standing on that base, which gives it a total depth of 2.24 inches. The USB and SD card ports are on the back of the base, so if you have a long USB stick inserted, you may need more clearance from walls or other items. With the power input and 3.5mm headphone jack back there as well, things can get crowded when everything is plugged in.
Also on the base are a few controls: buttons for power, menu, play/pause, and four directional arrows on a circle that looks like an old iPod click wheel (but doesn't actually work like one). They're on top of the stand, oriented to be viewed from above, peeking down from the front of the frame. It takes a minute to figure out and get used to.
Thankfully, the NIX Advance comes with a remote that's much more convenient to use than the built-in controls. It has impressive range that reached about 25 feet across multiple rooms in my house. You do have to aim it directly at the center of the frame, so sometimes you have to jam on a button several times to get an input to register. Its square shape is also unfortunate, since you can't tell what direction it's facing just by picking it up.
As a power-saving touch, the NIX Advance uses a Hu-Motion sensor that turns the display on or off depending on whether it detects people in the room. Its listed 2.5m range seemed accurate, and it picks up motion with adequate sensitivity. The physical sensor is a small, shiny dome in the lower corner of the frame that could be visually distracting if you expect a super-clean look, but for the most part, it blends right in.
The NIX Advance has no internal storage, so its capacity depends on the USB drive or SD card you plug in. It comes with a tiny NIX-branded USB drive to start you off, with a servicable 8GB of space (7.47GB available to use). Its SD card slot also makes it easy to take photos with a digital camera and then display them directly on the frame. You can plug either type of storage in without any fuss.
The USB input didn't detect the smartphones I tried to connect, but it was able to read from a 1TB external hard drive after a few minutes of scanning the files. After that, it was able to access a limited amount of media on the drive (roughly 200GB), and browsing through folders was a sluggish process. It recognized the files/folders that came earliest alphabetically, so naming your folders accordingly could help make sure it reads what you want it to.
Setting up the NIX Advance is as quick and simple a task as it gets. Insert the power cord into the back of the frame's stand and plug it into an outlet. The NIX logo will display for a moment, and then you're right at the main menu with three options: Play, Calendar, and Settings. You won't see your photos until you plug in your USB stick or SD card, which you'll need to load media onto if you don't have one ready. You can use the calendar immediately, though, with its slideshow of three generic sample landscapes.
The NIX Advance does an admirable job of making your photos look good. Images come through crisp and clear on the 1280x800 display. Its in-plane switching (IPS) LCD panel delivers strong picture quality and colors that don't wash out even from pretty extreme angles. The screen is also quite bright, even at the lowest brightness settings. There can be a bit of glare in strong, direct light, but the higher brightness settings help it shine through.
Video playback looks smooth and clear, too, though it only supports up to 720p resolution. Higher-resolution files will still play, but will be downscaled to 720p. Like most picture frames, the audio quality isn't great, sounding somewhat hollow though it's pretty loud at max volume, and the headphone jack is available for higher-quality playback.
One nit to pick about the display is its 16:10 aspect ratio, which is a bit wider than standard photo sizes (4:3) and taller than modern videos (16:9). That means you'll get black bars to the sides of most photos and to the top and bottom of most videos, unless you set the images to "Fill" the screen. In that case, you're at the mercy of how it zooms/crops your image.
When it comes to operating the NIX Advance, there's not much to it. The menus are clean and quick and easy to navigate. There's some slowness only when you're browsing files and it tries to load thumbnail photos, depending on the quantity of media.
Using the remote or built-in controls, you can easily play or pause the slideshow and move through photos. There are only a handful of transition effects, but they all do the job. You can set the slideshow interval anywhere from three seconds to 24 hours, which sounds excessive, but it essentially lets you display a different photo each day.
The only other display mode is the calendar. Photos will play in the background, but you can't control them while the calendar is up—the left/right buttons change months and up/down (less helpfully) jumps to different years. You can also dig into the settings to set convenient sleep timers for when you want the screen to turn off and wake back up.
All these settings add up to plenty of power to customize your display if you're so inclined. Leaving everything as is, even those with minimal tech savvy will have little issue learning to use the digital photo frame, making it a fine choice for users of any age. Plus, without any internet connections or external software involved, there are fewer factors to worry about if you ever need to troubleshoot the frame.
Retailing at $110 but often on sale, the NIX Advance is well-priced for everything it offers. You save by not having to shell out extra for smart features if you don't need them. There are lower-cost bargain frames out there, but the NIX Advance gives you usability and quality that's worth a bit of additional investment.
The NIX Advance saves you cash if off-the-grid photo display is all you need.
Nixplay Iris: If Wi-Fi-connected features are important to you, we also tested NIX Advance's higher-end cousin, the Nixplay Iris, and it's worth a look. It includes cloud storage and shared playlists controllable anywhere from a mobile app, with connections to your albums on Google Photos and social media. It sports a larger frame available in more elegant finishes, but with only an 8-inch screen and lower resolution. The NIX Advance saves you cash if off-the-grid photo display is all you need.
Nixplay Seed Ultra: Up front, the Seed Ultra looks a lot like the NIX Advance with its 10-inch diagonal and straightforward frame. But as another smart-featured member of the Nixplay family, the Seed Ultra, which we also tested, adds the brand's cloud connectivity suite on top of a more premium display. At 2048x1536 pixels, it's a higher resolution at a more standard 4:3 aspect ratio. It's also about twice the price of the NIX Advance.
A solid value for displaying your offline photos and videos.
The NIX Advance 10-Inch doesn't wow with innovative design or smart features, relying instead on physical media and back-to-basics quality. The HD display looks great, it's simple to set up and navigate, and it packs enough convenient features to make it a mainstay of your home or office.
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