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Digital Picture Frame Vs. Photo Album

Which Way to Go?

I really like the ability of a physical book to hold photos, and I certainly have my share of photo albums. Once an album is made, it has less impact on the environment and potentially could last well into the 22nd century, long after people have forgotten what a .jpg image is.

That said, I’ve decided to give mom a digital picture frame. While it’s more expensive than printing my own album, it’s much cheaper than a professionally printed one. For me, the frame can work with my large assortment of images, and I just couldn’t face limiting myself to 275 shots, and then still having to put those 275 together in a dozen paper albums. Too much work!

Plus, increasingly, I have videos from family events, my kids growing up and general silliness around the house. A digital frame can show these as well as a variety of online material.

I’m not happy with the amount of electricity that a frame uses, but I have a plan. I’ll get the frame, plug it in at Mom’s house, and then I’ll drive less to make up for the extra carbon dioxide. Instead I’ll walk, ride my bike, and skate more.

The frame uses 7 KWH at any given time, for a total of 61.3 KWH in a year. Meanwhile, to make my mom an album using 100 sheets of paper would use up 2 KWH. That's nothing in comparison to the digital frame, but overall, the digital frame is a pricier proposition: the cost of electricity combined with the cost of the digital frame itself costs more than the ink, paper, paper album, and printer power would (I'm assuming you already own a photo printer--if not, it could get even pricier). Remember, our calculations do not take into account the environmental cost of paper and ink, so once that is factored in, the carbon footprint of the digital frame doesn't start to look as bad.

Would you have made a different choice than I did?

Brian Nadel

Brian Nadel is a freelance writer and editor who specializes in technology reporting and reviewing. He works out of the suburban New York City area and has covered topics from nuclear power plants and Wi-Fi routers to cars and tablets. The former editor-in-chief of Mobile Computing and Communications, Nadel is the recipient of the TransPacific Writing Award.