Aura Frames Mason Luxe Review – The best digital photo frame for a Christmas present

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Aura Frames Mason Luxe Review Rating

Summary

The Aura Mason Luxe is a superb but expensive digital photo frame that makes an ideal gift thanks to various options to set this up and the collaborative uploads.

Overall
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Pros

  • Beautiful display and overall design
  • Easy to use with multiple upload options
  • Can be pre-set up with photos and WiFi credentials for gifting

Cons

  • Photos get stored on Aura servers – no direct uploads to the frame
  • Suggestions feature automatically uploads metadata from all your photos (but not the photos themselves)
  • Expensive

With Christmas quickly approaching, many of us will be looking for a thoughtful present to give to our loved ones.

All the options from Aura Frames make a particularly good choice as they all allow you to pre-setup the frames and upload photos prior to gifting. This makes them much more thoughtful and personal than just some random piece of tech.

The Aura Mason Luxe is the new flagship frame from the brand using a high resolution 2K display, which works in both landscape or portrait and also supports 30-second videos.

Aura Mason Luxe 2K Smart Digital Picture Frame 9.7 Inch –...
  • Unparalleled Image Quality: An Ultra 2K 2048 x...
  • Unlimited Free Storage: Send 10,000+ photos from...
  • Easy and Instant Photo and Video Sharing: Just...
  • Dual-Orientation: Changing the orientation of the...

Specification

  • 9.7″ 2K 2048×1536 screen with best in class image quality
  • Rotate to display in either Landscape or Portrait
  • Unlimited photo and video storage – Send 10,000+ photos from your phone to your Aura picture frame. Unlimited cloud photo storage is included with every frame. No hidden fees or subscription costs.
  • Effortless photo and video uploading from anywhere with the Aura app on iOS and Android
  • Adjustable slideshow speed so photos change as fast or slow as you want
  • Show photos and videos in chronological or randomly shuffled order
  • Built-in speaker lets you hear sound from your videos
  • Ambient light sensor automatically adjusts display brightness (and switch off when it is dark)
  • Upload via App, Email or web

Video Support

The Mason Luxe supports up to 30-second videos, and the frame has a speaker that can playback video audio. When the video auto-plays, it is in silent mode. The only way to upload videos is via the app.

Design

The frame has an attractive design. The sample I was sent is the pebble colour, and this is a plastic frame but with both a textured colour and design. It doesn't have the same plasticy look you have with other brands, and all the controls are discretely located on the top panel in a touch bar rather than ugly buttons.

The bezels have just the right level of thickness, in my opinion, not too thick, not too thin, it looks like a normal picture frame.

There is quite a lot of depth to it, more than you would get on a normal frame, but the frame itself is the stand. There is no flip-out stands.

As with the other Aura Frames, you do have to plug this in, there is no battery or any other magic allowing you to avoid cables. The cable has plenty of length allowing you to route it reasonably well to hide it. It is also a texture white colour making it a bit less ugly than black plastic power cables.

Set-Up

The Aura Frames range make a perfect gift, so I set this up as if I would gift it at Christmas. However, as I needed to actually review the product, I had to create an account for the recipient and set things up this way.

You have various options to set up as a gift. If you have it shipped directly to the recipient, you can pre-upload photos for them and include a virtual gift message. However, with this option, you can't set up the WiFi for them.

When gifting, you can use the QR code on the side of the box to set things up, but I unpacked everything I did things the normal way.

With the app installed and an account created, you can pair the frame up with the help of Bluetooth, where you will need to confirm the code on the screen.

I needed to set up the WiFi for my own house but if you know the details of the recipient you can pre-set up their WiFi allowing them to plug it in and use it immediately.  

Uploading Content & Privacy Issues

When I reviewed the Aura Carver, I raised some issues with privacy.

It seems like some of these issues still exist, but it isn't quite as bad as I originally thought, and Aura has made things more clear about what data they have access to and how to disable things.

Any photos you upload gets stored on their servers. Aura explicitly states that they do not own your photos (unlike some social media sites). Aura will never use your photos for any purpose other than providing you with the Services.

They will use metadata associated with the photographs, such as location data about where the photo was taken and the camera or device that took the photo. This is then used to group photographs that may contain images of the same individuals.

One of the issues I had previously was that it wasn't clear exactly what gets uploaded when you provide access to all your photos (their recommended setting).

Aura now confirms that:

The Aura app will access your device's photo library and collect metadata, including facial recognition data, and upload this data to the cloud. This metadata is not shared or sold, and your photos themselves will never be uploaded without your permissions. If you turn off Smart Suggestions, Aura will still have access to metadata about the photos you have shared, but Aura will not upload data about photos you have not shared with your frame(s).

In general, I am not too bothered about the above. Most people who are privacy-conscious may want to turn off smart suggestions. For some context, Facebook is far worse for privacy, so if you use that, then you shouldn't be concerned about Aura.

In Use

Once everything is set up, the Mason Luxe is a pleasure to use and a superb digital frame.

The frame can be placed in portrait or landscape mode, with the images auto-rotating. You have two touch bars on the frame two swipe between pictures, one for each orientation. The frame will intelligently crop photos too. The example below shows Blackpool Tower with some of the photos cropped out, but then a group photo of people it knows to fit everyone in.

The display has a matte finish with excellent colour reproduction. This is then combined with smart backlighting, which retains the image quality throughout the day and allows the frame to look like an actual picture frame rather than staring at a laptop screen.

When the frame detects very low light, it will auto shut off the display allowing you to use this in a bedroom.

Viewing angles are also superb. Even at a sharp angle, images still look excellent.  

Price and Alternative Options

The Aura Frames Mason Luxe is the flagship product from Aura and priced at £249

They then have the Carver for £179, which is 10.1″ Full HD 1920×1200. It only works in landscape and does not have video compatibility.

The Sawyer is £219, which is 9.7″ 2K 2048×1536 and works in both landscape and portrait but lacks video.

Nixplay seems to be the best rated alternative brand with models ranging from £130 to £240 depending on size. The resolution is lower, and the overall aesthetic isn't quite as nice.

Overall

The Aura Frames Mason Luxe is an excellent digital photo frame. By all accounts, it is the best on the market, the frame itself looks good, the display is superb, you get video compatibility and the app is excellent.

This also means it is premium priced. You could save £40 by getting the Sawyer, but the frame design on the Mason looks nicer with slimmer bezels and a textured finish. I'd say that's worth the extra alone.

Overall this is a superb premium frame and would make a perfect Christmas gift this year.

Last update on 2021-11-28 / Affiliate links / Images from Amazon Product Advertising API

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