With its matte anti-glare screen technology, the Netgear Meural WiFi Photo Frame is as good as printing out your photos on high-quality paper, although viewing angles aren't as good here as on the original. The app offers a range of ways to add images, and you can even buy or subscribe to get professional artwork. Although cheaper than the original, this remains an expensive photo frame, so you need to weigh up if its quality and features match what you want.
- Excellent image quality
- Makes photos look like they're printed
- Works with your own images and pro photos
- Viewing angles could be better
- Gesture controls are fiddly
- Review Price: £329.99
- 259 x 408 x 42mm
- 15.6-inch display (1920 x 1080)
- Wi-Fi 5 (2.4GHz and 5GHz)
- App control
- Amazon Alexa
Netgear’s Meural Canvas II demonstrated how a screen could display artwork as it was intended. It’s a great product, but expensive. Today, the company’s Meural WiFi Photo Frame uses the same matte screen technology, but in a smaller product designed to showcase your photos.
If you’re a keen photographer then this is the best way to show-off your images, offering a look that closely mimics that of being printed on high-quality paper. However, the system lacks some of the fun and fluidity of its rivals.
Netgear Meural WiFi Photo Frame design – Neat-looking and high-end
- Can be stood on a desk in portrait or landscape mode
- Ships with wall mount
- On/off control at the rear
Let’s face it, there are only so many ways to present a digital photo frame – but Netgear has at least done a decent job of making the Netgear Meural WiFi Photo Frame look attractive. At the heart of the product is the 15.6-inch display, which is surrounded by a photo mount.
For a bit of interest, there’s a wood-effect veneer that runs around the side of the display. It’s stylish and looks rather high-end.
On the rear of the frame is a fold-out stand, which lets you place the Wi-Fi Photo Frame in landscape or portrait orientations. If you prefer to hang the frame on the wall, then a mount is included in the box. The L-shaped mount at the rear lets you quickly unclip the frame and change its orientation to suit the images you wish to display.
A power cable runs into the back of the frame, so you’ll just need a powerpoint close enough to get power to the screen. There’s a physical power button, too, so you can turn the WiFi Photo Frame on and off as you desire.
Once powered on, follow the instructions in the app to get the Photo Frame connected to your Wi-Fi network.
Netgear Meural WiFi Photo Frame features – Makes it easy to display a range of images
- You can add professional artwork
- It’s easy to link an album from your phone
The main idea of the Meural Canvas was to showcase professional artwork from across the globe, and that’s still an option here. If you buy a membership (£8.95 a month or £69.96 a year), you’ll get access to more than 30,000 images, many of which are by famous artists, covering big galleries from around the world.
No matter your taste, you’re bound to find something you like in the mix. In addition, you can even buy individual images or albums from other artists, adding to your collection.
Ultimately, though, the Meural WiFi Photo Frame is a product to show off your images. There are multiple ways to get images to your photo frame. High-quality snaps can be uploaded using the web interface, with free members receiving 4GB of storage space, while those with membership get 20GB.
You can also link photo albums stored on your phone to the Meural frame, which means that pictures on display will be constantly updated as you add in new images. From the app you can make Playlists, too, which can be made up of multiple images from multiple sources, both your own and professional photos and works of art.
Given that you can schedule when each playlist or album is displayed, the system is hugely flexible in terms of letting you choose the type of images you want at any given time.
Images that you’ve selected to display are uploaded to the 4GB of internal storage, so the Meural frame will continue to work even if it loses connection to the internet or your Wi-Fi network.
You get fine control over how images are displayed, too. For quality control, the default option is to only show images that match the orientation of the screen – although this option can be turned off, if you prefer.
You can set the length of time an image should be on the screen for and how images should be displayed (fill the screen, keep their aspect ratio and so on). And, if you get bored, then the app provides a way to skip to the next image.
If you don’t want to use your phone, the Meural frame includes gesture sensors so you can swipe your hand across the screen to change the image. Side-to-side motions move between photos, and up/down gestures can bring up picture information or menus.
The Meural Canvas II gesture controls proved poor in use; the system here is a little better. It remains a bit hit-and-miss, but the Meural WiFi Photo Frame at least flashes up a ‘Gesture Here’ notification to indicate where exactly on the screen you should be waving. Gestures are fine for occasional use, but most of the time it’s unlikely you’ll need to interact with the display.
You can have the display shut down automatically at night, in order to save power. There’s also an Amazon Alexa skill that lets you skip photos and turn the screen on or off, but there’s still no Google Assistant support.
Netgear Meural WiFi Photo Frame performance – An incredible life-like experience
- Matte screen finish makes photos look amazing
- As good as looking at a high-quality print
- Viewing angles could be better
The Meural frame has a 15.6-inch Full HD (1920 x 1080) display, but this isn’t just a regular screen. Instead, it uses anti-glare tech to deliver a matte finish to the display, which means that it’s visible even under bright sunlight.
It also means the screen doesn’t actually look like a screen; view one of your photos and, if you didn’t know, you’d swear that it was printed on high-quality paper. That’s how good this screen is.
Excellent colour reproduction and a life-like quality mean that your best photographs will look their best. I’d go as far as to say that this is the best way to show off your digital photo skills, releasing images from your computer and camera.
However, while the core image quality on the Meural WiFi Photo Frame excels, the Canvas II’s viewing angles are better. Get too far away from off-centre and image quality does appear to degrade; it can be hard to see what’s going on. Positioning this device properly is key then.
Unlike rival devices, the Photo Frame isn’t really built for video; it excels at photos. If you want to show off videos and photos, you’ll want to look elsewhere.
In use, the screen uses about 20W of power, which is pretty minimal for what it is. If you were to have it on for 12 hours a day, then over a year you’d use around 87.6kWh, which works out at around £13.58 a year in electricity.
Netgear Meural WiFi Photo Frame conclusion
A smaller, cheaper version of the original, the Netgear Meural WiFi Photo Frame doesn’t quite offer the viewing angles of its sibling, but it does present the same life-like quality. If you love photography and want to show off your images to their best, it’s a great choice. If you’d rather have a more fun device that can mix photos and videos, pulling in images from a great range of sources, the Nixplay Smart Photo Frame 9.7-inch is a good choice.