Tue. Mar 5th, 2024


Key Takeaways

  • The Aura Walden digital picture frame has a sleek and modern design, with a black frame, white matting, and HD resolution.
  • The 15-inch size of the Walden frame may not fit every room, but it is a good fit for large common spaces.
  • The Walden frame can be wall-mounted, but the visible power cord and the need for an outlet nearby compromise its visual appeal and convenience.


There’s not one best style or size for digital picture frames in the same way there has never been a single kind of frame that works for all printed pictures. So the 15-inch Aura Walden might not work in every home or every room, but its black frame, white mating, and HD resolution does make images look gorgeous in the places that can accommodate it.

aura walden

Aura Walden

Send photos from your phone to Walden, the Wi-Fi-connected frame that takes you from tabletop to wall. Enjoy all your favorite moments on Walden’s 15-inch Full HD dual-orientation display.

Display Size
15-inch

Storage
Unlimited cloud storage

Connective Technology
Wi-Fi (2.4 or 5GHz)

Pros

  • Portrait or landscape orientation
  • High-resolution screen with matte finish
  • Wall-hangable
  • Unlimited photo uploads
Cons

  • Hanging on a wall requires visible cord and outlet nearby
  • Large, 15-inch, size might not fit every room

The Style and Design of the Aura Walden

Aura Walden sitting on a table
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

All of Aura’s digital Wi-Fi frames have shown elegance in some form, but I think the Walden’s slim, clean lines and modern aesthetic make it my favorite design from the company so far. Its larger 15-inch (diagonal) screen size made it more fitting for my living area, while its matte finish display made it appear more like a printed picture—to blend in with the decor.

Of course, the frame probably won’t fool anyone into thinking it was a printed picture. It still looked more like a screen than not. The 1,600 x 1,200 resolution and 133 pixels per inch were enough to do photos justice, but the brightness was often the aspect that gave its digital presence away. The auto-brightness did fine adapting to my room’s light in general, but the glow was still apparent.

The Walden frame has a 4:3 landscape aspect ratio that matches the iPhone camera’s default sizing. That means the pictures you snap on your phone, holding it sideways, will fit perfectly on the Walden’s screen. Conversely, you can rotate the frame to stand up taller and fit portrait photos without cropping off large sections.

There’s no perfect, or universal, aspect ratio which is why images used on various digital frames can look stretched. After using the Walden frame, I do think Aura made the right choice to mirror how iPhones take photos, rather than to try and go against the grain.

I used my frame both in portrait and landscape and had a hard time deciding which one I liked better. Ultimately, the decision came down to where I placed the frame in my room and how much space was available on the table.

Showing the stand for Aura Walden frame
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

The Walden frame can play videos, beyond just showing pictures. Videos will auto-play once and then freeze on the opening frame by default, but there are settings to change that if you’d like. A speaker in the back will play sounds, so if you tap one of the touch strips along the top or side you can bring up a few options, including replaying the video. When videos are replayed they emit their audio. Swiping the touch strip will move on to the next image, while tapping it multiple times will send hearts shooting up from the bottom, indicating you liked it—which sends that information back to the app and lets the person who uploaded it know.

Showing the touch controls along the top of aura walden
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

There is a small touch strips along two sides of the frame which control settings when tapped and changes pictures when swiped.

Walden Can Hang on a Wall

Aura Walden hanging on a wall
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

Aura advertises the 15-inch Walden as wall-hangable—and it is—but it’s compromised visually, by the power cord that hangs down and regionally, by needing to be near an outlet. Even though I wasn’t thrilled by those limitations, I was impressed by the roughly 3.5-pound weight that didn’t need a huge support hook. (Two nails and one hook are included in the box.)

Since there’s no battery inside, the frame needs to be connected to a power outlet by its thick, cloth-clad cable. That was a non-starter for both me and my wife, but I did it temporarily to fully understand how it worked. I didn’t care for how it looked, but more important was that I couldn’t hang it anywhere I wanted. I needed to find a wall you with an outlet nearby.

The wall-mounting process only took me about a minute with the included nail and hook. Again, because the frame is lightweight, it doesn’t need a stud or much in the way of support. Aura has made the hanging process easy, but I have a hard time imagining most people will take that route.

aura walden wall-mounted
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

Having a power cord is a tricky problem to solve. If a frame with a battery could last multiple days between charges, a removable, magnetic charge cable might be a future solution, but for now you’re left to make the choice of whether you’re willing to look at a cable or if there’s an outlet close by.

If you really want a wall-mounted digital frame, the other primary choice is a Meural frame from Netgear. I have the 27-inch and 15-inch frames and, while they’ve worked reliably, the software has deteriorated over the years. I’ve also seen almost no signs of effort from the company in recent years. The 21- or 27-inch Meural frames are a much better size for hanging on a wall, but I would be weary of spending the $600 or $700 on those products in 2023. If your wall can accommodate a 32-inch display, Samsung’s The Frame might be another option.

Perks of an Aura Digital Frame

Forget about the Walden’s 15-inch size for a moment. The software features from Aura permeate most of the company’s digital frames and are the real draw for picking either the Walden or one of its cohorts.

The most tempting feature is the ability to upload unlimited photos and videos for free. There’s no subscription or service fee for Aura’s frames. It’s amazing, really, but to state the obvious, this doesn’t seem financially feasible for Aura in the long run. Maybe people don’t actually upload that many pictures per frame and the hardware profit is able to offset that cost. I don’t know. The information I do know is that I’ve used Aura frames for multiple years without connectivity or storage issues, as have members of my extended family.

After having the frame set up in the entryway for a few days, I asked my wife if she thought it was worth the $299 price. She said she liked the frame but thought the price was steep. I mentioned that it included unlimited photos and no subscription fee, to which she offered that free photo storage might tip the scale back to being worth the price. That’s purely anecdotal, but I think a lot of people might feel that way too.

Another perk was the automatic cropping Aura did when a photo didn’t fit exactly. It did an impressive job, but I also found myself manually cropping quite a few photos using the company’s app. It just worked really well. I could crop or re-center a photo for the Walden frame right in the app and it showed in an instant. Once I enhanced the dozen or so photos I thought needed a little finessing, to go along with the other tens of photos uploaded, I could let them play randomly in a loop indefinitely.

Using the Aura App

The Aura app is the backbone of the Walden and is available for Android and iPhone. At a high level, the app looks like Instagram with a feed of photos that have been added to the frame, either by you or people you’ve given sharing access to. Anyone approved can then like or comment on the photos for everyone else in the group to see.

The app makes each frame collaborative and like a private social network. Even people without a frame of their own can be invited to use the app to upload photos, see what photos other people in the group have uploaded, and comment on them.

Despite the amount of functionality in the app, I found it very easy to navigate and understand.

If you simply leave the photos alone, Aura will auto-crop or re-size images as needed. But that can also be done manually in the app by tapping on a single photo and drilling into the controls provided. Similarly, Aura is deploying AI features in the background to recognize faces for photo uploads, but it’s unclear how this is practically being implemented. I didn’t see any indication of this during my testing.

Aura Walden: Price and Availability

The Aura Walden digital frame is available for $299. Its 15-inch size is currently the largest offering from the company and joins other frames which currently range from 9 inches to 10.1 inches in size. The price of Aura frames ranges from $149 to $399.

Should You Buy the Aura Walden?

Aura Walden in portrait orientation on a table
Tyler Hayes / How-To Geek

Once upon a time, digital photo frames were fiddly and overly complex. The Aura Walden frame, on the other hand, is near perfect for most people to set it and forget it—only needing to interact with it as much as they want to. It has a high enough resolution to properly display pictures. It gets the aspect ratio and frame size right for displaying in big, common living spaces. Its app is simple enough for people of all ages to use. It even provides dual orientations and a wall-mounted option.

The biggest problem is that the wall-mounted option breaks the digital illusion. The thick, cloth cable was visible in all situations I tried and would be very hard to hide. If you don’t mind seeing the cable, that’s great. However, I can’t imagine too many people will want to see it.

This frame will make a fantastic addition to any living room, large common space, or grand primary bedroom, propped up and sitting on a piece of furniture. I think in that setting, it visually fulfills its premium price point with a wonderful app to complement its hardware.

aura walden

Aura Walden

Send photos from your phone to Walden, the Wi-Fi-connected frame that takes you from tabletop to wall. Enjoy all your favorite moments on Walden’s 15-inch Full HD dual-orientation display.



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By John P.

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