20 June 2019

My new fantastic smart photo frame - NixPlay Seed

I’ve always loved displaying photos in our house, and when NixPlay asked me if I wanted to review their flagship NixPlay Seed photo frame I jumped at the opportunity. NixPlay Seed is a digital Wi-Fi based photo frame, a smart frame if you like, where you can upload photos via an app direct from your phone, from your desktop and also by sending them via an email link. I chose the 10.1 inch widescreen frame in black – but there are also 8 inch frames available in black, blue, yellow and maroon, and 10 inch ultra high resolution and 13.3 inch widescreen frames in black too.  

So far I've really enjoyed my frame. I've added all my summer photos on it, and the bright display with the crisp colours has been fantastic to display those vibrant summer vibes. The bright blues and greens of summer are captured perfectly and the pictures are bright and eye-catching. And best of all - any time I manage to take a gorgeous photo of our summer exploits, I can easily transfer it direct to the frame using my phone or my desktop. 

photo frame on mantle piece

How was the set-up process?

You set the NixPlaySeed up via Wi-Fi. Fairly simple process which felt intuitive and quick. Basically as soon as I turned on the frame it guided me through the process. There was a strange hiccup at first, making me think something was wrong, as the frame would not sync with my app despite both being connected to Wi-Fi. In the end it sorted itself out by an automatic software update after a short wait. After it is set-up, the frame can be used and setting changes via the app or the remote control. 

Is it easy to transfer photos to the frame?

In one word - yes! Very very easy. You need an app or a desktop version to begin with and to set your account and pair the frame to it. After that you can transfer photos direct to the frame from your phone using the app, from your desktop (using the online version) or sending it direct to the frame using an email (you get assigned a special email as you create your NixPlay account). This can be used by friends and family as well to send pictures direct to your frame. It's pretty cool! You can add friends and family as account holders as well so they can use the app if they prefer.  

Oh yes, and you can transfer short (15 second or less) videos as well, which is pretty cool. 

What's the quality like? 

The display quality is great - high resolution ISP display. Photos look very sharp and with good colours. The quality of the frame seems good. You use the charging wire as the stand and this seems to be working fine, and streamlines the design a bit. 

mum and baby on a photo frame

family in a photo

baby in a frame

Are there any cool functions?

After playing around with the frame a bit I must say I really liked the smart features it has. 

I dislike the black bars you sometimes get when the photo doesn't exactly correspond to the frame ratio. With the NixPlay frame you can modify the photos so they automatically fit to the screen. You can also ask it to recognise faces and place these in the thirds of the photo. This function works pretty well, albeit not perfectly. Occasionally photos, despite the best efforts, are still cut in strange places. This tends to mostly happen when you play portrait photos in landscape or vice versa. 

Other cool function is that you can fix the colour balance on the frame, so if the photos look a bit odd you can play around with them. 

I also really liked the snooze function and motion sensor function - you can set the frame to go to sleep if it doesn't detect movement for a while. While it is snoozing you can have the screen black or showing a clock. And when you do walk in front of it - on the photo roll goes again. 

Playlists seem like an interesting option too - so you can have rolls of differently themed photos. I'll at some point set up a portrait photo roll and a landscape photo roll, but you could do themes like holidays, or wedding photos or whatever you fancy. One playlist can hold 2,000 photos, and the cloud holds about 5gb data so there is plenty of space! 

Are there any bad points about NixPlay Seed 10.1 widescreen frame? 

As it is a cloud-based system it is reliant on Wi-Fi (I haven't tested yet how it works with no Wi-Fi around...). Not that our Wi-Fi is often down, but I guess we will see next time. Also, all the photos are transferred via the Cloud-based system. Great idea but if NixPlay ever went out of business, then what would happen with this functionality? This frame doesn't support SD cards, USB sticks or bluetooth, so the cloud is the only option. It would be great to have that back-up of either physical storage option. 

And this is not really a bad point, but more of a matter of preferences. In my opinion widescreen version might not be the best for a digital photo frame size if you use your phone camera a lot. 

Firstly, the widescreen 10.1 version looks a bit peculiar in portrait mode, it looks just a bit too thin and tall. Realistically you will probably only use it in landscape mode, but if you might find that if yo'u use your phone camera a lot, you tend to shoot in portrait. Secondly, as the frame ratio is 16:10 and phone camera ratio is generally 3:4 they might not match well. I personally have changed my phone camera ratio to 16:9 now so my phone photos should fit better here on in. 

So it's a matter of preferences and your habits - if you use your phone camera as your primary camera and have a lot of portrait photos you might be better off with one of the more traditional NixPlay See frames, perhaps a 8 inch or 10 inch version. Otherwise, the widescreen version does look fantastic when used landscape and gives that extra oomph to photos. 

photo frame in portrait mode

But all in all I've been very please with my new frame from Nixplay. It is smart, great quality and very easy to use. I'm looking forward to adding more and more colourful photos  to it over the summer. It is a great way to bring the seasons in your interiors, just by updating the photos you are using in the frame!

Have you had a smart digital frame yet?

You might also like: What we think of the home security system Y-Cam?

9 June 2019

A night as Bond: Review of the Secret Cinema Casino Royale

Last week we went to the grand re-opening of Casino Royale and what a night it was… Secret Cinema, the immersive cinematic event in London, has done a production based on the start of the latest Bond re-boot Casino Royale and we went to the first night. The events are running until 22ndSeptember 2019 and  I wanted to share some of my thoughts and tips on how to enjoy the experience the best, so here is my spoiler-free review of the event.

wearing all white at casino royale event

If you have never been to Secret Cinema I would definitely recommend it. A special set based on the film is created at a secret London location, actors are recruited to interact with the audience and provide scenes relevant to the film, and finally the film is shown to the audience, with an added flair. There may be things such as special effects and actors recreating the scenes live in front of the screen. There are food and drinks and activities. Your phones are packed away so you can’t take any photos, and you immerse yourself in the whole experience. We’ve previously been to the Secret Cinema Blade Runner (see my review here), which was an amazing experience. 

Now, I’m not going to share any spoilers here now, but will update this post with a detailed description after the production has finished.

As part of your pre-event instructions you are told to wear a certain colour depending on your character. If your group has different colours, fret not, you can stay together, no-one will separate you. Before you enter the event you get briefed on your spy-appropriate mission - look for the person holding flowers in your colour.  

You don’t necessarily need to buy anything as a prop, but should you feel the need to, there is a Secret Cinema online shop, as well as a physical shop outside the entrance and inside the venue on the day. We had ordered a set of purple sunnies and red jewel earrings online before attending (they arrive quick, in a day or two) but could have just relied on whatever we could find already.


the red carpet to the event casino royale

At the event feel free to interact with the actors, and do explore the area. It is vast. Huge. There are off the top of my head five different areas to explore, although one didn’t seem to be much more than a bar. There are food stalls in at least three areas, so plenty of choice. There are performances happening in all areas, so don’t worry too much about seeing everything. There was live music and acting performances, with some scenes flitting from one area to another. There are also a couple of rooms where you can get in on the action, so do try join in if you can. You might not be able to as it is busy and not everything is available to everyone, based on skills and finances (without revealing too much detail!) and VIP status.  

I found the good things to be that the set was huge and there was much to explore. We got there as one of the first people and we managed to wander about a lot without ever feeling bored. Food was nice, although fairly basic stuff, not excessively Bond but keeping to the locational theme. I liked the performances although I didn't really capture any real storyline, if there was any. The film though... I'm not a fan of Bond films really but I enjoyed this one a lot. The added performances and special effects during the film were fabulous, and I loved it. It felt really immersive and cool. Also, unlike some previous productions the seats were well-spaced and  fairly comfortable, even if by the end of the film I was feeling tad achy after all that sitting. Modern films eh, they make them twice as long as they really have to be...

at casino royale

man and woman in front of secret cinema event

As for bad things, there weren't many. I did feel that there was a lot of people, and at time it felt like you were in a club, particularly at some transfer points between areas. A seriously annoying thing was that as the bars were open during the film, the quiet scenes were interrupted by chatter and ambient noise from the bars. Not a problem at loud parts, but even though we were sitting at the front we could still hear the bar noises during quieter scenes. 

Also, I think it is worth to mention that as a basic ticket holder (at £50 a pop) there were some activities to join, but I feel like there was a lot more (of course rightly so) for VIP ticket holders. We for example got booted out from one room, politely and in character by a couple of Bond baddies, as it was taken over by VIPs. As a basic ticket holder you probably miss a fair bit of the performances as they flit between areas and as a VIP you would be taken to where the action is. VIP ticket holders were taken from scenes to other scenes, so I would think they get more of a show and a storyline to the experience. 

But all in all, I really enjoyed our night and thought it was fantastic fun, and I loved watching the film. I've also got a few tips on how to enjoy the night...

My top tips for enjoying Casino Royale:
  • Glam up. You are going to the casino and the more glamorous you are, the more suited you are to the occasion. I saw many people in proper black suits and bowties, and ladies in proper evening ballgowns so don’t feel worried about being over-dressed. You won’t be... 
  • That said, take your comfortable shoes. I took my silly glamorous Jimmy Choo shoes, and quite frankly, I had to take them off and move onto my flats half-way through. The set is humongous and there is so much to walk around for.
  • Try to remember characters you've seen during Casino Royale - there are actors dotted across looking like them. Think of the final poker table, and some of the baddies at least... I think you may get a bit more out of the experience if the film is somewhat fresh in your mind, I had forgot many of the characters as it's been years since I've seen the film. 
  • When people start to get ushered towards the actual Casino Royale area, the film will start soon. Have a bathroom break, get your drinks and popcorn and start getting ready. The seating is at the opposite side to the stage if you want to get ready for the scramble for the seats.
  • Keep your eye out for the special star exhibit as you exit the cinema... Pretty cool!

man and woman at casino royale secret cinema

Have you been to Secret Cinema ever? What would be your tips?

You might also like: What was Secret Cinema: Blade Runner like?

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