Send grandma some digital images of the kiddies
January 14, 2015 12:27 PM   Subscribe

My mother is a complete technophobe and I would love to find a digital portrait frame that I can control remotely.

I guess I don't have to control it, but I do have to make sure that I can set it up for her here in Los Angeles and then send it to her in Cape Cod and just have the photos I send, either email or a webstream of some sort, show up with absolutely no interaction from her, just plug it in and have the photos appear magically!

I would hope such a device exists, but have never looked for one. Big bonus if I can send her a little video snippet now and again as well.

posted by silsurf to Technology (15 answers total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
Here's one. The problem is that it needs to be connected to a wi-fi network, which it doesn't sound like she has. I'm not seeing one that could be connected via 4G. But maybe there are friendly neighbors with wifi, who wouldn't mind this one low-bandwidth gadget tapping into their network.
posted by beagle at 12:38 PM on January 14, 2015

FYI: the kodak pulse has been discontinued and the web service no longer functions. This is the only one I could find when I was looking for a replacement Kodak Pulse.
posted by AmandaA at 12:40 PM on January 14, 2015

If she has a computer, you can control her computer remotely, and set her screen saver as the images you want her to see.
posted by treehorn+bunny at 12:43 PM on January 14, 2015

Would Ceiva work? I've never tried it but have thought of getting one for my inlaws.
posted by notjustthefish at 12:45 PM on January 14, 2015

The Chumby used to be able to do this - it went off the market and now seems like it's back on for a monthly fee. We gave one to my brother in law's family many years back and loaded it with, among other widgets, a photo widget linked to a Flickr album. Not sure of their current widgets or how long it will remain on the market this time though.
posted by melissasaurus at 12:56 PM on January 14, 2015

Pixstar. Kinda expensive but does what you want. Supports email and you can point it at Facebook albums, Picassa web albums, Flickr and some other sources.
posted by cmm at 1:10 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

Assuming your mom can plug in an electrical appliance I would imagine she can switch a thumb drive in a digital frame. That would give you a lot more options, and not require internet or 4G access. You send her the first one with the drive already installed and then you can send replacement thumb drives. And since many older people still like getting mail, there is the bonus of her getting new pictures in the mail from you, and not by magic over the Internets.

Really, there is a hell of a lot more that can go wrong with any network connected device that will be areal PITA for you to deal with. A stand alone frame should be plug it in and forget about it.
posted by COD at 1:22 PM on January 14, 2015 [3 favorites]

Have you considered sending her a printed photo album instead? In my household, we create/curate a physical photo album every year (Shutterfly, but there are plenty other vendors), and it's always hugely appreciated by the grandparents.
posted by monospace at 3:50 PM on January 14, 2015

The Pix-Star is so fantastic I purchased two (one for me, one for my parents). You can configure them remotely and each frame comes with its own email address so that you can email photos directly to the frame from your phone/tablet/computer - the phone will strip out all the non-photo data like the email headers, etc. and just show the jpgs attached to the email. It also supports online archives like Picasa, Snapfish, Flickr, etc. And there's no monthly/yearly charge for this. My only complaint at this point is that the frame doesn't deal as well with photo text messaging - it'll still show the photos, but you'll also get extraneous jpgs that the frame doesn't strip out that your telecom provider might add (T-Mo, I'm looking at you) - emailing the photos works great though. But all in all, I'm really happy with my purchase and my parents love their frame.

I will also add that the email feature has encouraged my siblings, both parents of young children, to share a lot more photos with my parents, as it simply involves emailing the photos directly to the frame's email address from their phones.
posted by longdaysjourney at 6:01 PM on January 14, 2015 [1 favorite]

I have a digital photo frame that uses thumb drives via USB or SD cards. You could just put the photos on an SD card, set it up so it cycles the photos and everything the way you want, and then send it to her like that. Then when she gets it, she can plug it in and turn it on and it should work fine however you set it up. I'd just get any digital picture frame and do everything beforehand and send it with the SD card already in the slot. Easy.

If you want to be able to update it without any interaction from her or without her having an internet connection... I really don't see how that's possible. People do still use printed photos -- people like my mom and your mom. If you got back from vacation and wanted to share your photos with her, why not make a cheap, easy printed photo album and have it delivered to her? Walmart, Target, etc. all make cheap easy photo albums that people like my mom (and probably your mom) love.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:30 PM on January 14, 2015

...One other option, that may be hard depending on your mom's skill level, but could work -- do the first thing I said by getting a regular digital photo frame with an SD card and sending it to your mom set up. Assuming your mom has a computer with an SD card slot and internet, whenever you have a bunch of photos to add, you could ask her to put the SD card in her computer and then via TeamViewer, add all the photos yourself onto the SD card. When you're done, tell her to put the SD card back in the digital picture frame.

If your mom is as totally awful and disconnected to technology as you sort of make it sound, I do think printed photo books could be the way to go. They are cheap enough that you can do one for every big trip you go on, or you could just once a year (birthday) send her an album of the grand kids from that year. You have to think about whether your mom will keep a digital photo frame plugged in and running all the time.
posted by AppleTurnover at 7:37 PM on January 14, 2015

So, totally the analog answer, but I'm pretty happy with Touchnote, an app that lets you send paper postcards.

It's pretty seamless.
posted by mercredi at 7:42 PM on January 14, 2015

If you want to be able to update it without any interaction from her

As long as she has wifi access of some sort (either in her house or a public wifi spot that she can connect to in her house), the Pix-star frame can be updated/configured/reset with no physical interaction at all. It just needs a wall plug and hot spot. You just login to the Pix-star website with any internet browser using the same login/pw that you used to set up the frame and you can do everything remotely.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:45 PM on January 14, 2015

We got my mother in law a Nixplay and it seems to work well. It would have to get set up on WiFi for it to work, but we got it all set up before Christmas without too much work and have since sent photos to it without any problem.
posted by katers890 at 7:29 AM on January 15, 2015

This is exactly what we've been building for a couple of years.
go to advanced ... and then ... get started here.

The driving principle is that Grandma should not have to press any buttons, any at all, none. She can get pictures and you can play videos for her. she can receive skype calls without any buttons at all.

It runs on an Android tablet at Grandma end and on a laptop or android phone at this end. It works well on an Android tv stick, this uses the tv as a screen and of course there is no mouse input from her end.
posted by jbrohan at 11:54 AM on January 15, 2015 [1 favorite]

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