UNBOXED: Reviewing The Meural Canvas Smart Frame
Meural is a gesture-controlled WiFi-connected digital frame that displays classic works of art, photography or your own photos. The 27-inch frames are available in three different color options: black ($595), white ($595), and chestnut ($695). In August 2018, Netgear acquired Meural after serving as one of its early investors.
Admittedly, I don’t know much about art, but after playing with Meural, I found myself almost giddy as I rooted through several pieces of artwork on my.meural, and some of my own photos as well.
Meural’s display was quite impressive. The colors were very vibrant and the images available through their app were of high quality. Was I completely blown away by how much Meural looked like a real-life painting? Not exactly; nonetheless I was satisfied with how beautifully the photos appeared, and just how many options there were.
For $49.95 per year, Meural's Art Library gives you access to “$3 billion worth of artwork.” Playlists range from color, types, subject/content, movements/styles, and more. You can also search for specific artists or channels, including National Geographic. During my short review, I only began to scratch the surface in discovering all that my.meural had to offer. The several works I did display however, were perfectly cropped, high-resolution images.
To justify the membership service, I found the exact same piece on Google and decided to display it to my canvas. The one I found was the incorrect size and therefore, appeared very blurry. I found that relying on an Internet search for images to display onto Meural is not the most reliable, so the membership is a wise investment.
The images I displayed also seemed to look the most authentic against natural sunlight. I put the canvas to the test by facing it towards my window on a sunny day, and it surprised me that there was absolutely no glare. In fact, I felt like the images seemed to be enhanced when positioned this way.
I also thought it was interesting that I could schedule different photos to go out throughout the day and ask Alexa to change them at any time. There was truly no limit on what I wanted to display or when I wanted to display it—except if I wanted to display a vertical photo when the frame was positioned horizontally and vice versa. The solution to this, however, is the swivel mount for an additional $49.95. Because there were so many photos that I liked in both directions, I would definitely want the accompanying swivel mount as to not limit which photos I could use. The only drawback to hanging the frame as opposed to having it lean against a wall though is the cord, which would need to be run through the wall in order to be concealed.
The motion sensor was also a cool feature. Meural claims that just as real-life art is not meant to be touched, neither is their canvas. And for the most part, the motion sensor worked pretty well. Photos can be changed with the wave of a hand, and a description will also appear alongside the photo. The ability to learn about the history of a piece was truly an added bonus.
All in all, the Meural smart canvas essentially pays for itself through the sheer amount of artwork available on the app in addition to personal photos. Buyer’s remorse is practically nonexistent because users are never committed to a single piece of artwork. A digital art frame may not be a traditional way to display art, but it is sure to be a conversation piece in any home.