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Share Your Memories With Our Favorite Digital Picture Frames

Share Your Memories With Our Favorite Digital Picture Frames

Most of us have hundreds, if not thousands, of photos just sitting on our phones and computers that we rarely get to revisit in a polished way. There are too many to print and frame, and more keep piling up. That’s why I love digital frames. Do not fear them! They no longer look pixelated and tacky, and the best ones blend in with their surroundings. 

I first fell in love with digital frames after trying some from a company called Aura. They’re nice to have around the house, and they also make great gifts. You can set them up for others and push your latest vacation photos straight to them, so your folks or grandparents can always stay up-to-date. They do require a Wi-Fi connection, but if that’s no issue, I have several recommendations. These are the best digital picture frames (and the worst). 

Don’t have enough pictures? Check out our other buying guides for the Best Compact Cameras, the Best Mirrorless Cameras, the Best Photo Printing Services, and the Best Camera Gear for your Phone.

Updated October 2021: We’ve added the new Nixplay touchscreen and Aura Buddy frames.

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Mesh Wi-Fi for $20? Vilo’s New Router Is Surprisingly Great

Mesh Wi-Fi for $20? Vilo’s New Router Is Surprisingly Great

Getting into the weeds of its specifications for a minute, the Vilo routers support IEEE 802.11a/b/g/n/ac. There’s no support for the latest ax standard, also known as Wi-Fi 6. That’s not a huge deal considering you need to upgrade all your devices to enable Wi-Fi 6, but it would’ve been a nice addition for future-proofing. Security-wise, it doesn’t use the latest WPA3 protocol, but WPA2 (Wi-Fi Protected Access 2) instead. Like Wi-Fi 6, WPA3 is still relatively new, so this isn’t surprising. But it does make passwords harder to crack and connections to devices without screens easier and more secure, so it’s an upgrade you ideally want. 

Each router has four internal antennas and supports multiuser, multiple-input, multiple-output (MU-MIMO), which allows it to better handle multiple devices connecting to the router simultaneously. There’s also beamforming to focus the wireless signal toward devices. 

The Vilo system has band steering turned on by default, which means it picks the band (2.4 GHz or 5GHz) it thinks is appropriate for each device, but both appear as the same network name. This can create problems when setting up smart home devices. My Nanoleaf light panels, for example, connect only to 2.4 GHz but also need the phone that’s setting them up to be connected to the same band. Thankfully, Vilo allows you to toggle band steering off, so you can split the bands, which I did temporarily to set up a few devices before turning it on again.

Your mileage will vary depending on your setup. The limitation for me is the internet speed coming into my house, but the Vilo system does a great job of spreading available bandwidth, and I haven’t had any random disconnections in three weeks of testing. That’s not to say I haven’t had any issues.

The Catch

The app is slick, but it can be slow to load or update after you make changes. Sometimes it takes a few minutes to update with the current status. Even after you’ve successfully changed something, it can take a while to show up correctly. 

During setup, to avoid reconnecting my multitude smart home devices, I planned to give the Vilo system the same name and password as my previous Wi-Fi network. Unfortunately, it refused to accept the password and didn’t work. The good news is this turned out to be a bug the company swiftly fixed via a firmware update.

There’s also no way to force a connection to a specific router. This isn’t usually a problem, because devices connect to the closest option for the best possible speed, but my desktop PC kept connecting to a router farther away on the 2.4-GHz band instead of the nearest on the 5-GHz band like I would expect. A firmware update improved this too, though it still occasionally connects to the router upstairs. 

Since the company is so new, it’s normal to see a few kinks like this, but it’s nice to see Vilo active at addressing them quickly. Hopefully, that continues throughout the router’s shelf life.