iPad Accessory Review: miFrame Photo Frame Dock for iPad


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Although I use my iPad 2 most of the time I kept a 16GB WiFi iPad 1 around for review purposes (as well as the convenience of keeping an iPad in the den full time). I’m glad I did keep the original iPad because I am still coming across some awesome accessories designed specifically for it. And since there is still a strong market for the original iPad (you can get a refurb unit in perfect condition on the cheap right now) there is still a good market for iPad 1 accessories.

A good example of that is the miFrame from Striped Sail. Of all the accessories I have reviewed this is definitely in my top three. It is beautiful, functional and it breaths new life and utility into a year-old device.

The bulk of the review can be found in the above video review but I did want to share some of the specs and backstory on the company with you. So lets take a closer look at the miFrame and why I think it is worth every penny of the $99 MSRP.

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From Striped Sail:

Sleek and refined miFrame is your personal docking hub for iPad. miFrame was thoughtfully designed, first, as an exceptional iPad accessory, and second, as an honest reproduction of the classic 8×10 metal picture frame. Its dual nature is patent pending, but you’ll like it because even with iPad removed, it fits your modern decor.

miFrame was built tough. We produced it with the same plastic used in football helmets and with aircraft grade aluminum. That way touching, swiping, and pinching iPad will feel as comfortable and sturdy in miFrame as out.

miFrame offers easy access to a docking port for effortless syncing and charging. An extra long cable is built-in. That way you can place miFrame just about anywhere and still reach Mac®, PC or power. miFrame will help you keep your desk tidy and free of unnecessary wires while keeping iPad always charged and ready.

miFrame doesn’t constrain how you use iPad. With miFrame, you can position iPad upright in portrait or landscape and still get a charge. It’s simple to use Pages in portrait and then switch to landscape to watch a widescreen Netflix movie the way it was meant to be. You’ll find surfing the web, checking email, cooking with Epicurious or whatever you do, doing it now with iPad in miFrame can make it more enjoyable and easier.

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The miFrame comes in a nice, substantial box. The unboxing experience is not disimilar to opening the box of a new iPad! This was, as the company explains, intentional:

For those familiar with the Apple unboxing experience, we did our best to match it. miFrame ships in a premium box for maximum affect, making it a perfect wedding gift or birthday present for anyone with an iPad.

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Docks iPad easily by removing snap-on front as shown in the demo video

Connects iPad to an Apple 10W Power Adapter up to 1.5 meters away with included USB cable

Syncs iPad with iTunes® on Mac® or PC

Displays iPad in portrait or landscape

Holds one 8?x10? print photo for display in portrait or landscape

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The miFrame was released on January 27, 2011. Releasing a pricey iPad accessory on the 1st anniversary of the device being announced was a bold move but since iPad were still selling at a fast clip and this accessories is gorgeous and functional it was a good bet.

The miFrame is the creation of former two-college roommates. As they explain in a blog post relating the story of how they created the company and designed the miFrame,

It was in March while registering for my wedding gifts that I came across the premium Nambé brand of picture frames. Their design reminded me of a lot of Apple. I sent Justin a link to their site and we expanded on this idea of a picture frame and an iPad stand all-in-one. Not too much later we conceived, what we later named miFrame.

Like the Nambé picture frames, we wanted miFrame to be a conversation piece. Luxurious, maybe. Premium, for sure. miFrame would be no ordinary picture frame. After all, it couldn’t be, it would cradle the most advanced and beautiful tablet computer ever created. We had a big act to follow and high expectations to meet if other Apple fanboys were going to appreciate the miFrame. With iPad docked, it had to be functional and sit iPad upright in both landscape and portrait. With iPad on the go, miFrame needed to compete with designer 8? X 10? picture frames from brands like Nambé.

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Inside the box is the miFram and the base. They took great case in designing the PROCESS for creating it.

From a single sheet of aluminum we carefully produce the frame and the base using a labor intensive process of sanding, bead blasting and anodizing. When complete, the finish is virtually indistinguishable from the finish on iPad and your other Apple products. Durable and strong premium polycarbonate forms the custom molded charging cradle and snaps. Flame polished, shatter proof acrylic protects an 8? X 10? portrait of your choosing or the default miFrame glossy photo included with purchase.

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The faceplate pulls off and reveals the holder for an 8 by 10 picture. The dock connector at the bottom awaits an original iPad.

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Inside the iPad looks great. You can use it for a slideshow or for any other purpose you like. As they explain:

A hole in the base of miFrame keeps things tidy by guiding the extra long 1.5 meter (almost 5 ft) USB cable to a nearby electrical outlet. Once you own miFrame, you’ll probably quickly learn it is more than just a picture frame iPad dock. Since miFrame charges iPad, setting up and using iPad in picture frame mode is more practical now. In my house, iPad quickly replaced my old Sony digital photo frame, my alarm clock, and iTunes on my Mac for controlling the tunes when people come over. My wife, an 8th grade English teacher, loves reading books with the Kindle and iBooks Apps. iPad can get a little heavy if held for extended periods of time though, so she places iPad in miFrame and reads at her desk. My mother uses miFrame and the Epicurious app together when cooking. I’ll let Justin tell you more about how he uses miFrame in his own blog post, but I know he likes to use it as weather station next to his bed and to watch Netflix movies during extended hotel trips. One business owner we know uses it in her retail store to engage clients and another in their lobby. With your imagination and the App Store, the possibilities for how you can use miFrame with iPad are limitless.

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It certainly makes a great table clock but that is just the beginning. And when uyou want to take your iPad with you it pops out in seconds and still leaves you with a lovely picture frame.

It is worth noting that the iPad 2 will fit in the frame but there is a gap between the frame and the iPad due to the current iPad being a bit thicker. I hope the company comes out with an adapter since having the game filled should be a rather simple process.

The miFrame has an MSRP of $99 and can be purchased through the Striped Sail Web site. If you purchase it through our New Gear Daily Affiliate Link you can save $10 and get it for just $89.

MSRP: $99

What I Like: Great quality; nice packaging; quality design, materials and workmanship; presents a nice picture frame ever without the iPad in it; can work in landscape or portrait; breaths new life into a year-old tablet

What Needs Improvement: a bit pricey but worth the cost; iPad 2 works but is not as refined due to its thinner design

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About the Author

Dan Cohen
Having a father who was heavily involved in early laser and fiber-optical research, Dan grew up surrounded by technology and gadgets. Dan’s father brought home one of the very first video games when he was young and Dan remembers seeing a “pre-release” touchtone phone. (When he asked his father what the “#” and “*” buttons were his dad said, “Some day, far in the future, we’ll have some use for them.”) Technology seemed to be in Dan’s blood but at some point he took a different path and ended up in the clergy. His passion for technology and gadgets never left him. Dan is married to Raina Goldberg who is also an avid user of Apple products. They live in New Jersey with their golden doodle Nava.