If You Snap a Family Photo and Nobody Sees It, Does It Really Exist?

by Barrett

This nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame is a digital photo frame with lots of tricks to help display your photos.  Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s ready for prime time.

This nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame is a digital photo frame with lots of tricks to help display your photos. Unfortunately, I’m not sure it’s ready for prime time.

My life as the family photographer feels like a huge storage container of ‘quadro- triticale’ and a bunch of tribbles.

If you’re not familiar with the classic “Star Trek” episode, “The Trouble with Tribbles,” Captain Kirk uncovers a Klingon conspiracy to poison relief supplies designated for a distant planet‘s population. He realizes the evil plot when an expanding family of cute tribbles starve in a poisoned shipment of wheat.

The Trouble with Too Many Family Photos
I’m taking thousands of pictures a year, but you wouldn’t know it.
Neither would most of my family or friends.
Because the photos are buried away in my computer’s hard drive, burdened down by a self-inflicted organization and processing system I designed.

My original plan was solid (or so I thought):

  • Take lots of photos
  • Separate the digital wheat from the chaff every week
  • Upload the very best online to share with family and friends
  • Print photo albums by the year or event
  • Print one-off photos with your home printer

But I didn’t properly factor in the variable of time allocation per photo…

My system’s fatal flaw:
There are simply too many pictures to go through.
And now I’ve fallen behind…way behind.

I’ve talked before about the challenges of organizing vast numbers of digital family photos.

Yesterday’s Photo is Yesterday’s News
I’m a busy father.
Looking through all my photos every week isn’t exactly at the top of my to-do list.

My review process has slowed so dramatically, I’m getting to photos of my three and half year old son that don’t really look like him anymore!

And when they say a picture is worth a thousand words… that’s for yesterday’s picture. Six months from now, that cute photo of my boy ‘rowing his boat’ in a laundry basket still may be a keeper, but our extended family and friends want to know what he did six days ago!

So in a manner of speaking, family photos have an expiration date.

Life moves pretty quickly.
Your photos had better keep up!

Digital Photo Frames to the Rescue?
The same rule goes for sharing your photos at home with the inner circle…
So I decided it was time to update ‘the plan.’

One option was to simply take fewer pictures.
(Believe me… that would solve a lot of problems.
I almost pine for the days when you only had 24 or 36 shots to work with.)

The other ‘obvious’ solution is to power up a digital photo frame to help get those photos quickly in front of the family’s eyeballs.

I know this isn’t a revolutionary solution.
In fact, digital photos frames are already yesterday’s tech.

The idea of buying a digital screen and loading it up for the one purpose of rotating a group of photos isn’t as wonderful as it once was.
You can already display photos on all the other digital screens you own.

Who needs to spend money on another one?

Plus, I’ve generally found digital photo frames to be a pain to use.
(They’re just glitchy!)

Maybe since they never became such a hot tech commodity, all the kinks never got worked out.
(Not that I’ve tested all of them…)

That said, I’ve bought two digital photo frames so far,
including the positively-reviewed Pix- Star PXT510WR02 for my father a year ago.

I found the Pix-Star to be perfectly functional but also somewhat unresponsive whenever I tried adding more photos into the mix. The Pix-Star was supposed to make the upload process really simple, because it can pull existing photos from one of my Flickr family albums.
(It’s web connected.)

Third Time’s the Charm?
But I haven’t given up.
I’ve been paying attention to see when a new digital photo frame that could be a game changer hits the market …

Recently I noticed a new player:

nixplay Cloud Frame

The 8” nixplay WiFi Cloud Frame

It’s just come out and was displayed at CES 2014.

Nixplay’s Cloud Frame’s particular trick is it can access your pictures not only from your hard drive, but also from Facebook, Instagram and Picasa. Then you create your own albums and slideshows on nixplay.com and finally send them to your web-connected frame.

Plus, it’s got a motion sensor. So it can turn off when you’re not in the room.

Sweet!

Beta be Good!
For full disclosure, this Nixplay Cloud Frame is also a beta version.
But I figured it’s got to work since it was on sale at Amazon for $99.

Click.

Buyer beware…
Beta versions always come with risks…

Setting up my nixplay and connecting it to my wireless network went smoothly enough, but as soon as I tried loading up some photos, I ran into a bit of trouble.

As in… I couldn’t load any photos onto the frame!

Yes, I was able to upload the photos onto my nixplay web albums, though a few pictures didn’t make it up to the nixplay cloud on the first try.
Instead, I got a scary ‘communications error’ message.
(A second attempt was ultimately successful.)

But when there’s smoke, there’s usually fire…

So Close and Yet So Far
For almost a day, I couldn’t get the frame to pull down any of the photos from the nixplay cloud.

NONE!

But it did recognize the existence of my online slideshows.
Just not any of the photos!

ARGH!!!!

Actually, all of the blank slideshows didn’t always show up in the menu.
Getting confused…?
Exactly.

NIXPLAY, WE HAVE A PROBLEM!

Nix the Nixplay?
When I first unpacked the nixplay, on the top of the its screen, there was a peel-able sticker that read,
“Congratulations on being one of our first nixplay customers. We are really excited to have you as part of the family!”

The feeling’s not mutual.

  • I’ve lost time trying to get this beast to work!
    (that precious commodity I was trying to save in the first place)
  • I’ve lost money!
    I just saw the nixplay’s price on Amazon has suddenly dropped 20% to $79.99!!!
    (I guess that $20 price drop is good for the next guy… though that’s predicated on the frame actually working!)
  • And I’ve lost a happy ending for this post!

But it gets worse.

The Taunt of the Intermittent Problem
To demonstrate further proof that technology has already reached a sentient stage… the next day, my frame inexplicably started working.
It started sucking in the photos.

Not all of them, mind you…. but a lot.
I think it was taunting me.

So what’s going on here?

  • More communication errors?
  • Or perhaps, it’s normal for nixplay photos to take their time downloading to the frame
    (so much for instantaneous gratification)

The questions keep pouring into my brain like water into a leaky Octonauts submarine toy during bath time.

Help At Home with Tech!
I’ll reach out to nixplay’s tech support for help…
But this kind of thing is really supposed to work from the start.

A device that works some of the time is the worst kind of tech to keep around.
It should either work right or not at all.
(I think I was happier when the frame remained stubbornly blank!)

Owning a solid digital photo frame shouldn’t be a pipe dream!
Like flying cars, it still seems like such a great idea!!

But it looks like Amazon could be getting a return very soon…

(If anyone out there has a recommendation for a good digital frame that’s not hobbled in some inscrutable way, please let me know!)

Stay tuned…
(Ugh)

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