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Lenovo's Smart Frame puts your digital photos on a 21.9-inch canvas

This takes digital photo frames to a whole other level.
Nicole Lee, @nicole
01.06.20
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Chris Velazco / Engadget

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Like many of us, you probably have hundreds and thousands of photos on your phone or the cloud, never to be seen again. Sure, you could print and hang them, but if you ever want to change photos, that can be a pain. A smart display can double as a digital photo frame, but you can't exactly mount it on a wall. Lenovo has come up with a potential solution to that with the Lenovo Smart Frame. It's not cheap at $400, and it is insanely large, but it is by far one of the most elegantly designed digital photo frames I've seen.

But back to the size. Unlike some of the smaller digital photo frames, the Lenovo Smart Frame is quite large -- it has a 21.9-inch screen -- and is meant to be hung on a wall. In fact, when a few Engadget editors saw it for the first time in Lenovo's demo room, we genuinely thought it was a random piece of art set up on an easel. It wasn't until the image on the Smart Frame changed that we realized it was a digital frame.

That's partly thanks to the anti-glare coating on the Smart Frame; it gives it a matte finish that's more common with hung art than LCD screens. The Smart Frame has a 1,920 by 1,080 FHD resolution plus an 85-degree viewing angle, which certainly adds to its appeal. It also has an ambient light and color tone sensor, which adjusts the picture's brightness and overall temperature according to the surrounding environment. This, according to Lenovo, makes for a more natural viewing experience.

One way to control the photos is via hand gestures. There's a motion sensor at the front of the Smart Frame so that when you wave your hand from right to left, the picture changes. But the primary way to navigate photos on the Smart Frame is via a companion app. That's also where you would load your photos via your cloud service of choice (Lenovo hasn't announced yet which ones are compatible with it). Then, Lenovo's built-in AI chooses the highest-quality images to display on the Smart Frame.

Lenovo Smart Frame

A Lenovo spokesperson says there will be a collage feature that automatically adds multiple images to a single frame. There's also a potential for a "look back" feature to see photos that you took several years ago. And, if you consider the Smart Frame more as a digital art frame, the app also comes with hundreds of art pieces to choose from.

You could certainly display the Smart Frame in an easel like shown in the pictures here, but it's really designed to be hung on a wall. Lenovo has therefore wisely included a snap-on mounting system with the Smart Frame. It consists of a circular mount -- which has a built-in level and cord management grooves -- that you attach to a wall. The Smart Frame has a similar circular disc on its back that pairs perfectly with that aforementioned mount.

It snaps on easily and securely, and it even lets you rotate the frame 90 degrees, so you can display images either vertically or horizontally. The one negative, however, is that even with the cord management system, the power cord is visible against the wall. A Lenovo spokesperson said that you could potentially wire it through your home wiring, but that requires a more significant investment.

Lenovo Smart Frame

Interestingly, even though it's only meant as a digital photo or art frame, the Smart Frame also comes with a couple of 2-watt speakers and a microphone. According to Lenovo, that makes it a little more future-proof. The speakers mean that it could potentially play short video clips, and the microphone provides potential for integration with, say, Amazon's Alexa or Google Assistant.

For $400, you'll get the base Smart Frame along with an included metallic outer frame. If you want a wooden frame -- it'll come in various wood finishes and styles -- you'll have to pay another $40 or so for each one. Thankfully, you can swap out the different frames quite easily with just a quick tug.

Along with the Smart Frame, Lenovo also announced a couple of other connected home products. One is the second-gen Lenovo Smart Tab M10 FHD Plus with Google Assistant ($189 and up), which is essentially an upgraded version of the Smart Tab M8 Lenovo released last year. It's a 10.3-inch Android tablet on its own, but when attached to a Smart Charging Station, it'll display Google's charging UI through its Ambient Mode experience. This essentially makes it a Google Assistant-activated screen. It has two Dolby Atmos speakers, and you can use it as a digital photo frame too.

Other features include a Kid's Mode with dedicated kids content and parental controls, Posture Alert that detects the posture of the user, and Bumpy Environment Alert that detects when it's on a turbulent ride and informs the user to stop using the tablet.

The other announcement is Lenovo's Connected Home Security, a service that informs you of potential security vulnerabilities such as hacking or phishing. It's free for Lenovo PC users with Lenovo Vantage, which they can use to monitor Lenovo devices like the aforementioned Smart Tab, the Lenovo Smart Clock, Smart Display, and more.

The Lenovo Smart Frame will be available in August. The Smart Tab M10 should also be in stores sometime this year, but it's unclear when. The Connected Home Security service is available as a free trial this month. After 30 days, it'll continue to be free, but if you want to also monitor non-Lenovo devices on your home WiFi or a "family-related network" like at your parents' house, then you'll have to pay $29.99 per year, per family.

Follow all the latest news from CES 2020 here!

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