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CEIVAlife Digital Photo Frame review: CEIVAlife Digital Photo Frame

CEIVAlife Digital Photo Frame

Joshua Goldman Managing Editor / Advice
Managing Editor Josh Goldman is a laptop expert and has been writing about and reviewing them since built-in Wi-Fi was an optional feature. He also covers almost anything connected to a PC, including keyboards, mice, USB-C docks and PC gaming accessories. In addition, he writes about cameras, including action cams and drones. And while he doesn't consider himself a gamer, he spends entirely too much time playing them.
Expertise Laptops, desktops and computer and PC gaming accessories including keyboards, mice and controllers, cameras, action cameras and drones Credentials
  • More than two decades experience writing about PCs and accessories, and 15 years writing about cameras of all kinds.
Joshua Goldman
4 min read

Ceiva's been making digital photo frames for some time now and continues evolving its frames into high-powered, Internet-connected devices that deliver weather and sports scores as readily as photos from friends and family. Its Ceivalife frame provides impressive overall performance and its features are first rate. Plus, Ceiva goes out of its way to make its customer service available. However, the frame's full feature set comes at a cost after the first year and while setup is fairly simple, it's likely that only tech-savvy users will benefit from all that the frame can do. In other words, if all you want to do is view digital pictures and you want the fewest possible steps to do so, keep moving--the Ceivalife is too much frame for you.


CEIVAlife Digital Photo Frame

The Good

Three Internet connection options; can be managed completely by remote; good customer service.

The Bad

Most features require a subscription fee after 1 year; may be feature overkill for some users; expensive.

The Bottom Line

The Ceivalife digital photo frame and its complementary service push past simple picture viewing into the realm of Internet appliances--for better or worse.

The Ceivalife ships furnished with a simple, matte black frame surrounding its 8-inch display, but it's easily swappable with the included faux wood-grain-finish faceplate. Skins can also be purchased to further customize the look. Unlike competing models, the Ceiva doesn't have an adjustable stand for propping it up. Rather, the base of the frame simply acts as a stand, which means it sits in landscape view only. While it's nice to have the capability to make a frame stand vertically (in portrait mode), the lack of the feature isn't a big deal.

There's a set of buttons running along the bottom of the frame for menu navigation. They detract from the frame's aesthetics, so the overall look isn't as clean as other frames that have their buttons tucked away behind the display. It makes the Ceivalife look more like a piece of electronics than a photo frame. Around back you'll find slots for Compact Flash, SD, MMC, and Memory Stick memory cards (others types are supported but require adapters). The slots, however, are strictly for viewing photos from external memory, not for transferring photos to the frame's internal memory. Connectivity options also include both a standard USB port and a Mini-USB port, so you can also view photos from a thumbdrive.

Pictures look sharp on the 640x480-resolution screen, but because of a lack of pixel density--and resolution--you do get some blotchiness in backgrounds and noticeable color banding. From a picture-quality standpoint, the frame may not be at the top of the class, but it's certainly a solid B.

The biggest draw of Ceiva's frames are their Internet connectivity and Ceiva's online PicturePlan service. The Ceivalife frame can connect to the Web through a standard phone line via a jack on the back of the frame, wirelessly by using the included USB Wi-Fi adapter, or via Ethernet with a $19.95 USB dongle. The internal memory is reserved for storing photos pushed to the frame via the service; the Ceivalife comes with a year of the PicturePlan service. Again, you can't transfer images from a card or thumbdrive to the frame's storage.

Aside from its main feature of getting photos from your computer to the frame, the PicturePlan service provides an e-mail address for sending photos from a cell phone or other mobile device straight to the frame. You can also add guest accounts, letting others send photos to it. Uploads can be done on the company's Web site (a simple drag-and-drop affair), on Windows computers using Adobe Photoshop Album Starter Edition 3.0 or CEIVAsender (both free downloads), or on Mac systems with an iPhoto plug-in or an iPhone app.

The service gives you access to a lot of content, too, such as greeting cards, art galleries, and holiday themes. And then there are the Channels, which send content from ABC News, New York Times, ESPN News, and others--in a large number of categories--for viewing on the Ceivalife. Thankfully, all of these are easily configured online, so there's no endless digging through menus on the frame. In fact, all the settings can be changed online and then uploaded to the Ceivalife. For this reason, it's a good option as a gift for less technically proficient users. The flipside to that is those users probably won't take full advantage of the frame.

With your paid subscription comes a complete replacement warranty on the frame, should it suddenly stop working properly. We were also impressed with the amount of customer assistance the company provides. Not only is the Web site loaded with helpful content and contacts, but also the second we hit a problem initially setting up the frame, a screen appeared with contact information for customer service along with hours of operation--a very nice touch.

Once the included year of service is up though, you're looking at a monthly bill of $9.95 or a yearly one of $99.95. A three-year option comes in at $249.95--pretty steep if you only plan to look at photos. The other downside is that should Ceiva ever fold, you're stuck with a frame that can't even store photos.

We can't stress this enough: if it's just simple photo viewing you're after, skip the Ceivalife digital photo frame. However, if you can swallow the fees, this model is an excellent way to share photos with family and friends thanks to the service's robust feature set.


CEIVAlife Digital Photo Frame

Score Breakdown

Design 6Features 7Performance 7Support 8