Eco4life 8” Wi-Fi Cloud Frame full review
Buy the Eco4life cloud frame and in the box, you’ll get the frame itself, a detachable stand and a power cable and plug. The power cord isn’t the longest, so if you want to put your frame on a high shelf, you may need to use an extension cord.
At the moment, the frames are shipping with a US plug, so UK users will need a plug adapter. This may change when the frame becomes available to buy in the UK.
The removable stand is a clue that the frame can also be hung on a wall but, as it has to be plugged in when it’s in use, you’ll need to find a way to cover that dangling wire.
Set up is straightforward, although there are a few steps in the process. Download the free app, connect your frame to your home Wi-Fi and then scan the frame’s QR code into the app so they connect. Then you’re ready to go.
Getting your photos to the frame
There are two ways to get your pics to your frame. You can upload locally, by inserting an SD card or a USB into the back or by uploading your pictures via the app. The former is easy and instant: just insert your USB stick loaded with photos, choose “local file” and then play your slideshow.
Uploading via the app is a slower process. You can only upload nine images at a time, which is annoying, and it doesn’t happen instantly. During my first upload, only five images made it to the screen and I had to repeat the upload.
The same thing happened each time I uploaded a new batch, with the process taking two or three tries to upload all nine pictures. I thought it might be my Wi-Fi connection but moving nearer the router made no difference.
The Eco4life cloud frame can also play video but there’s no volume control and the sound is tinny.
Design & appearance
Unlike some frames, the Eco4life 8 inch looks like an old-school photo frame. It’s pleasingly framed in real, cherry-coloured wood, which makes it more attractive that some of its bland, matt black competitors. However, it'll fit in better with traditional décor than modern minimalism.
It has an 8-inch display size, with 1280x800 screen resolution. On its Amazon product page, this is described as “super high definition”, which isn’t really the case.
It’s technically HD but compared to many other digital photo frames, such as the Nixplay 9.7in screen, which is 2K (2048 x 1536) and the Aura Carver, which is 1920 x 1200, its screen resolution isn’t all that impressive. Your pictures will probably look sharper and brighter on your phone screen.
The frame is only meant to be used in landscape mode. You can stand it in portrait mode (although there’s no way to hang it on a wall like this) and choose to rotate a single picture, but when the next picture comes up, it’ll revert back to landscape.
Most of the settings controls are changed via the touchscreen. The screen will remain in slideshow mode until you open up the menu. Frustratingly, while it’s easy to touch the screen and enlarge or move the picture currently being displayed, or swipe onto the next one, the menu is much less responsive and I found myself tapping the screen multiple times to open it.
When you finally get to the menu, navigate to “setting” (that’s what it says), then “album settings” and you’ll find all of your display options.
You can choose the length of time each picture will display in a slideshow. Options are 10 seconds, 30 seconds, one, three, five, 30 or 60 minutes. You can also change the transition mode, with options being fade (which, oddly, doesn’t fade: one pic just follows another); scale (the picture increases in size); slide; and rotate (a dizzying effect in which a picture spins into place, like a terrible Photoshop presentation).
There are two display modes: fit to screen or full screen. Disappointingly, whichever mode you choose, there will almost always be black bars on either side of your picture during the slideshow. You’d expect this in portrait mode but in landscape, there’s still no option to completely fill the frame with the picture.
In fit to screen mode, most of the time you’re only using half to two-thirds of the (already quite small) screen. Full screen mode uses up to three-quarters of the available space as the picture enlarges during its display time.
The best way to get a picture to fill the screen is to play in full screen mode and then pause on a specific picture. The picture will continue to enlarge until it fits the screen and then pause until you press play again. It’s fine for displaying a static image – the problem is that you can’t use the full screen in slideshow mode. Once you press play again, you’re back to bars and a small picture.
The photos can be displayed sequentially or in random order. There’s also an option to play background music via an SD card or USB stick. However, given the speaker quality, it’s probably not going to enhance your experience very much.
The app is straightforward and easy to navigate. Via the app, you can set a schedule for your frame, so you set it to begin playing when you wake up or switch off at bedtime. You can also use it with automations, so you can set it come on with your smart lights when you come in from work.
If a family member creates an account, you can also opt to share your device so they can – via the app – send pictures straight to your frame. This makes the Eco4life cloud frame a potentially appealing gift option for grandparents or aunts and uncles.
If the recipient is less technically minded, you can set up the frame for them and ping them photos remotely. However, as the upload process is such hard work, you might regret not just buying flowers.
You’ll get 6G of free cloud storage but unlike Aura, which offers, free, unlimited cloud storage, you’ll need to pay if you want more. The 30G cloud storage plan will cost you $15 per year, while 100G will set you back $45. 6G should be enough space to store comfortably over 1,000 photos, which may be enough for most users.
Security-wise, you can delete photos you’ve uploaded to the cloud directly from the app, which is reassuring.
Price & availability
It'll be released in the UK in the near future.
Digital photo frames are expensive, and although this is one of the less pricey frames we’ve reviewed, in this instance at least, you’ll get what you pay for. If you can spend a bit more, it’ll be worth your while: the Nixplay 10.1 inch frame is currently available from Amazon UK for £134 or Amazon.com for $179.99, the Aura Carver is £129 or $169.
If you’re after a more budget-friendly options, check out our review of the Dragon Touch Classic 10.
Digital photo frames are expensive, especially given their limited functionality. Considering that you can buy a smart display, such as the Amazon Echo Show 8, for around £100, a digital frame that only shows photos should be able to do that very well, with great screen resolution and a high-res display.
With both hardware and software limitations, it's hard to wholeheartedly recommend the Eco4life frame. The fact that pictures will rarely completely fill the screen and that the slow upload process is a chore make it a less appealing option that many frames we've reviewed.
To see our top smart frame picks, have a look at our round-up of the best digital photo frames we've tested.
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