Digital photo frames are fantastic family gifts that can cost hundreds of dollars. Or, with a simple hack, they can cost next to nothing.
The best news for late holiday shoppers? You might have one hiding in a junk electronics pile.
“Don’t discard your old tablet,” the video’s narration instructs, as the scene shifts to hands placing a paperboard frame around the iPad’s vibrant color display. “Transform it into a digital photo frame with a minor modification.”
@smartphotoframe Turn an old ipad into a digital photo frame! #digitalframe #ipad ♬ original sound – smart photo frame
The post shows how to prepare a frame based on the size of your tablet, tape the tablet to a card like you might do framing a printed photo, and slide the tablet and card into the outer frame.
From there, the narration says to set the iPad to “display only the screen, and it becomes a digital photo frame that’s always lit.”
Other online articles, how-tos, and posts go into detail about how to configure the tablet’s settings or use one of several apps — such as LiveFrame or Fotoo — for organizing albums and helping faraway family members share photos. You may also be able to use the tablet’s built-in photo apps.
How it’s helping
Even with upfront costs, repurposing an old tablet saves money.
The New York Times product review site Wirecutter took a timeout from its rundown of best digital photo frames to acknowledge this “(potentially) free” alternative.
“People have many screens in their lives,” wrote its reviewers. “If you’ve recently upgraded to a newer tablet, you might consider using your old one as a digital photo frame.”
The prices of Wirecutter’s picks for new digital frames? $180-$300.
Giving new life to an old tablet can also reduce the electronic waste of constantly upgrading to new devices and discarding old ones.
Humans create about 110 billion pounds of e-waste yearly — more than the weight of all the commercial airplanes ever made, according to the United Nations. Only about 20% is recycled, despite there being 100 times more gold in a ton of e-waste than in a ton of gold ore, per the UN. Poor disposal of e-waste releases toxins and gases that overheat the planet.
What everyone’s saying
Online responses to the photo-frame hack show interest and appreciation.
“Whoa, this is so cool!” wrote a Reddit user in response to a fancy 3-D-printed frame.
“Thank you so much for this! Setting up a photo frame for grandma,” said a YouTuber.
“I never thought of this,” a TikToker commented on a video of an Amazon Fire’s conversion. With a mind-blown emoji, they added, “Now I know what to do [with] those old tablets.”
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