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Lifewire / Anton Galang
Large 2K-resolution display
Loaded with cloud-based features
Functional mobile and web app
Highly customizable settings
Relatively plain design
Stand feels somewhat unstable
Wireless network and Nixplay account required
Investing in the Nixplay Seed Ultra gets you an excellent display with impressive smart features, from mobile or desktop control to cloud storage to shared access with your friends and family.
From the Nixplay Seed Ultra's exterior, it doesn't look like there's much differentiating it from many of our other options for best digital photo frames. Start digging into what this internet-enabled frame can do, though, and you'll find a lot to like—particularly if you have a lot of photos in the cloud and on social media, if you want to share albums with loved ones, or if you have multiple smart frames to integrate with.
There's not much to see on the face of the Seed Ultra. The three-quarter-inch-thick black border has a subtle raised Nixplay logo on one corner and two small square sensors on another, but they don't distract from the photos on display. The diamond pattern on its contoured rear surface offers some contemporary appeal, but it's safe to say that people will rarely see the frame's backside, if ever.
Also found on the back is the frame's most innovative design element: a bendable stem that the power cord plugs into, serving as the stand. This lets you incline the frame at any angle you want. It's also easy to turn the frame to portrait or landscape orientation, with the display automatically sensing the change and rotating accordingly. The flexibility, though, comes at the cost of stability: it sometimes feels like the frame is close to toppling over. It stays upright more often than not, but that insecurity is really unwelcome in such an expensive piece of tech.
There are no controls on the frame itself, but it does come with a remote (the same one used by other Nixplay frames, so you can use their remotes interchangeably). It has nice range, about 25 feet, though you have to point it fairly accurately at the front of the frame. It also has a square shape that makes it impossible to know just by feel which way you're holding it. For most smartphone users, the virtual remote on the Nixplay app is a better option.
A great display is at the core of a great digital photo frame, and the Seed Ultra does it right.
Since the Seed Ultra pulls photos and videos from your cloud storage and social accounts, the frame doesn't offer inputs for USB drives or SD memory cards like many traditional digital frames do. It does have internal storage, though the 4.64GB internal capacity can be easy to fill up if you're trying to include a lot of photos; that said, it's a simple matter to clear out your playlists and load different ones anytime you want.
The physical setup for the Seed Ultra is as simple as connecting the power cable to the frame and to the power adapter, then plugging it into a wall outlet. There's some loading as it boots up, and then it prompts you to connect to your Wi-Fi network, which is required to proceed. It takes some time to download software updates and restart, but it's a relatively short process in total.
You'll then get a short video that introduces you to Nixplay's main features. Between the video and the product's quick start booklet, you don't get too much detail on setting up all the connected functionality it has to offer. You mostly have to discover things as you go, and it starts with downloading the Nixplay mobile app and creating a Nixplay account. There's also more you can do with your account from the full website instead of the app, but again, I felt like I had to learn this on my own.
Now you can pair your account with the frame—it tries to automatically detect the device if you're on the same wireless network, but that didn't work for me, so I had to enter the serial number. The Seed Ultra certainly isn't the most difficult product to set up, but it's understandable if some prefer a simpler path to using their digital photo frame.
A great display is at the core of a great digital photo frame, and the Seed Ultra does it right. The picture quality is top-of-the-line, utilizing an in-plane switching (IPS) panel type that displays your photos in rich, accurate color with very wide viewing angles. Its 10-inch LCD screen is well-sized for most spaces, too, with a resolution of 2048x1536 pixels (a common photo aspect ratio of 4:3). That puts it in the category of 2K resolution, delivering a level of detail for your photos that's almost peerless in the digital photo frame space.
The Seed Ultra supports video playback as well, but only in clips up to 15 seconds long. Audio quality is mediocre and on the quiet side, so you likely won't be doing extensive video viewing on the frame.
The Seed Ultra comes with a dizzying assortment of modern features, taking full advantage of today's ubiquitous internet access and smartphone penetration. The free mobile app for iOS and Android isn't always the snappiest, but it's well designed and easy to use. You can upload photos from your device to your 10GB of Nixplay storage, sorting them into playlists to be loaded onto the frame. Your friends can send photos through their own Nixplay accounts or e-mail them to a dedicated address for your account, both easy methods for sharing memories over long distances.
The Seed Ultra comes with a dizzying assortment of modern features.
If you want to pull photos directly from your social media accounts you can do that too, with options to link to Facebook, Instagram, Flickr, and more. You can also create dynamically updated playlists through Google Photos and Dropbox that make your frame a bit more of a "living" device.
Even the options for the frame's basic slideshow functionality are as vast as its connected ones. Its rich variety of transition options include a pan and zoom reminiscent of the "Ken Burns effect." A motion sensor turns off the screen when no activity is detected for a while, though it sometimes took some deliberate hand waving to wake it back up. It supports Amazon Alexa integration, which didn't work very smoothly in practice, but is promising to have as a capability that can be improved via software/firmware updates.
At $220, the Seed Ultra is an expensive photo frame, understandable given the number of genuinely useful features it includes. You can find a lower price frame depending on what you want to compromise on, like a smaller screen or fewer features (or no Wi-Fi capabilities). That said, you can often catch the Seed Ultra on sale, in which case it's an even more compelling value.
Nixplay Iris: The Iris, which we also tested, is designed with a thicker border in three different finishes, but it displays photos on a smaller 8-inch screen with lower resolution and an automatic brightness sensor. Other than that, they share the same Nixplay app, software, and features, so you can manage and control both of them through the same account.
NIX Advance 10-Inch: The Nixplay Seed Ultra and the NIX Advance, which tested as well, look very similar from the front, with the same screen size and simple matte black borders. The NIX Advance, though, has no Wi-Fi connection at all, reading photos only from USB drives and SD cards. It's still a very high-quality frame and worth considering if you don't want to pay quite a bit more for connectivity.
An expensive but excellent-looking display with an expansive set of connected features.
The Nixplay Seed Ultra has one of the better displays on a digital photo frame, and one of the richest collections of smart features and options. It can be a lot for some users to manage, but there's a ton of convenience and functionality to be discovered.