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Aura Carver Mat review: a gorgeous but flawed digital photo frame

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Aura Carver Mat review: a gorgeous but flawed digital photo frame

Aura Carver Mat: Two-minute review

Aura is a well-known name in our best digital photo frames guide, regularly making an appearance. A leading name in home displays, the brand is responsible for the budget-friendly Aura Carver. The Aura Carver Mat on review here shares many similarities with the regular Carver, only it comes with a more classic finish.  

It’s a tablet-sized 10.1-inch display designed to sit on a sideboard rather than being mounted to a wall, featuring an approximate half-inch border that takes the total diagonal dimension up to 10.5 inches.

I prefer the classic-frame look of the Carver Mat over the Carver – it’s super-slick and looks the part positioned on anything from a desk to a bookshelf or a piano. The ridged frame of the Carver, on the other hand, looks cheaper in my opinion.

The quality of the Carver Mat’s 16:10 aspect display is superb. Photos are punchy in dim light and natural in daylight, with the 1280 x 800-pixel display rendering crisp detail. However, there are two things that make other frames a more tempting proposition, including Aura’s own Mason frame. First, the display is landscape format only, and second, the optimum viewing angle is narrow. 

I’ll discuss those to limitations further down; but in every other regard, the Carver Mat is a gorgeous little frame that’s super easy to use, and even allows you to share photos with loved ones, who can upload their own photos onto the frame remotely through Aura’s slick app. 

The Carver Mat is a hit in the looks department and in terms of user experience; it’s just a shame that it’s limited to landscape format viewing.

Aura Carver Mat: design

  • Well built and a classic look to suit many a home
  • Landscape format only
  • Neat touch bar panel

The Aura Carver Mat frame is superbly crafted with its matte-****** frame and white border, while its generous 10.1-inch display is of a size that many people will be familiar, given its dimensions are roughly the same as the classic iPad, if a little smaller.

It features a thicker underside so it can stand up independently, although therein ***** its fundamental design flaw: the Carver Mat can only be positioned in landscape format. In 2024, when so many images are shot in portrait format, particularly on phones, the Carver Mat’s design feels particularly limiting. 

You can display portrait format pictures on the Carver Mat, but they won’t fill the frame. Other models, such as Aura’s own Mason and Walden models, allow you to flip the frame between landscape and portrait format and use the whole display; the Mason is only a fraction pricier than the Carver Mat, which makes it the better choice.

Aura frames feature a neat touch bar panel – here, on the top of the frame – that allows you to turn the frame on and off and includes functions such as swipe to next image, plus press and hold to reveal image information such as who uploaded the picture.

Elsewhere, I welcome the choice of power cable – it has a cream-******** fabric exterior that will easily blend into the background of many a home’s decor. An ugly trailing cable along a wall or a side could have proved an eyesore. 

Getting started with the frame is fool-proof. You download the free Aura app, which is available for both iOS and Android devices, follow the pairing instructions to become a “member” and, once you’re connected to the frame, you can start uploading images from your phone / tablet’s gallery. 

Multiple Aura frames can be added to your Aura app, and you can invite family and friends as members to upload images to the frame, too. 

The whole image upload experience is seamless, and the collaborative aspect is superb, too, making Aura frames a brilliant gift. For example, as a member, I could upload the latest photos of my kids to my parent’s Aura frame from anywhere with an internet connection. 

Aura Carver Mat: performance

  • Crisp and natural-looking display
  • Decent for daylight and night-time viewing
  • Narrow viewing angle

So how good is the display itself? Well, the 16:10 aspect display has a resolution of 1280 x 800 pixels, which is roughly 150 pixels per inch. That’s a decent enough display, rendering crisp detail when viewed from an optimum distance of around a few feet away. 

The display itself has a glossy finish and suffers from reflections, more so than the Aura Walden. If you look at the two images below, you can see the difference when viewing the Carver Mat straight on or to the side – position yourself at an angle and reflections can impede clear viewing. 

In addition, at night when the backlit display is luminous, it loses its luminosity when viewed from an angle. Again, for the brightest and punchiest viewing experience, you’ll need to be straight on to the frame. 

Otherwise, there’s little else to say – the Carver Mat packs good detail with punchy and faithful colors, while it’s simple to modify the images that are on display and for what length of time through the app, although you’ll need to edit your images to taste before importing them. 

Aura Carver Mat: price and release date

  • Available in the US and *** for $179 / £179
  • Look out for deals 

The Aura Carver Mat is available now and costs

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– although, at the time of writing, it’s reduced to $149 in the US. 

US and *** shipping is free. The Carver Mat is also available in Canada, France and Germany, although it isn’t currently available in Australia.

Aura Carver Mat: should I buy?

(Image credit: Future | Tim Coleman)

Buy it if…

Don’t buy it if…

Aura Carver Mat: How I tested

  • A long-term fixture at home
  • Image uploads through the Aura Android app
  • Viewed in daylight and at night

The Aura Carver Mat has been living in my home for a couple of months at the time of writing this review, positioned on a window-lit sideboard. The display is mains-powered and is automatically active during daylight hours, and automatically powers off when it’s dark to conserve power. 

I’ve uploaded digital photos through the Android version of Aura’s app – although, sadly, the frame is limited to landscape format orientation. I’ve scrolled through the gallery of images using the frame’s touch panel and have regularly updated the images in the gallery through the app. 

I’ve checked out the quality of the display in daylight and at night, from close-up and from far away, straight on and from the side to check the viewing angles and also if the frame suffers from reflections. 

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#Aura #Carver #Mat #review #gorgeous #flawed #digital #photo #frame

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