Netgear acquired Meural, which created a series of lifestyle art-viewing picture frames, in 2018. Last year, Netgear unveiled a new version of the Meural with smaller screens (21 inches or 27 inches tall), starting at $400. These digital canvases are a classy option in a market full of cheap screens and feel like something Apple would do.
The Meural WiFi Photo Frame extends the product into a new space. Priced at $300, it offers a sharp display that is 15.6 inches tall by 7.5 inches wide. That’s a lot bigger than most photo frames but small enough to put on a desk to showcase your favorite photos or paintings.
You can place the photo frame vertically or horizontally, and it knows which orientation it is in and will display the images properly, product marketing vice president Phil Pyo said in an interview with VentureBeat. The woodgrain-trimmed frame has an anti-glare screen and uses patented TrueArt technology to make photos viewable from multiple angles.
Pyro said the smaller size was a strategic decision: “15.6 inches doesn’t sound big because we wanted to keep it in a minimal form factor, where you could place it on a desk or a kitchen counter.”
“We spent a lot of time thinking about how we could leverage today’s technologies on our own platform,” Pyo said. “We know how much people are sharing smartphone images on apps. We wanted to come up with something designed for this modern world.”
You can set the frame to share photos from your phone automatically, including selections from a particular album. The frame can recognize locations and organize photos by date or tags. Just as with the Meural art frames, you can “wave up” with your hand near the Meural photo frame to display the location and date. You can also schedule albums and playlists to show at different times of the day and play short 15-second videos.
“It makes total sense for us to pivot to a more photo-centric product, bring down the price, and also deliver a premium experience,” Pyro said. “I can sit it on a tabletop and relive an experience.”
The frame has a resolution of 1920×1080 pixels and plugs into an electrical socket. Its integrated sensors monitor the room’s ambient light to ensure images are displayed at the correct brightness, and it can automatically go to sleep when it’s dark.
The product is ideal for grandparents, at least those whose homes have Wi-Fi. “You can play albums of family and grandkids for the grandparents, and this is a beautiful way to do that,” Pyo said. “You can send it to them from afar and change the playlist.”
In addition to displaying family photos, the frame includes 100 sample artworks curated from a Meural Art Library of over 30,000 images from leading museums, artists, and collections from around the world. The full catalog is available if you subscribe to Meural art images for $9 a month. Non-members can store 4 gigabytes of photos, while members can store 20 gigabytes of data. (It has no SD card slots, as the focus is on making it a connected experience.) Netgear is also adding new Peanuts comic strips by Charles Schulz to the library, as well as video art from Sharecare Windows, which captures images from the natural world.
The frame is available now on Netgear.com and through other online retailers.