Networking and router maker NETGEAR have acquired Meural. After integrating it with their culture and systems, it is ready to go – an electronic picture frame!
Meural Canvas (US website here) is a digital ‘canvas’ to showcase artwork and photography – from a huge global art gallery collection as well as your own.
Technically Meural is a
- 27-inch, 1920 x 1080, IPS, 300 nits, a low-glare matte screen with an ambient light sensor that works in portrait or landscape mode (depends on content)
- A small Wi-Fi AC dual band enabled 1.8GHz quad-core web-server/media player with 8GB memory (4GB available) and an SD card slot to store some content storage or for remote access and upload
- Choice of Winslow (American walnut) or Leonora (American Poplar painted Matte White or Black) at different costs all with a white mat surround and gesture detector (next, last etc.) weight approx. 10kg.
- Alexa compatibility coming (requires an Amazon Echo speaker on the network)
- The Meural app for Android or iOS
- A 240V brick (12V/3A – 36W) and a 2.4m cable.
- In the box are a spirit level, wall anchors and non-slip grip.
NETGEAR would rather you call it ‘digital art or digital canvas’ than a pedestrian electronic picture frame and hopes it is a new category which it will lead in.
- Black or White $1119 includes a
three yearart subscription
- Walnut $1299
- There is a swivel mount at extra cost.
You will also be able to buy a digital license for some of the artwork – yours to keep.
In the US it costs US$595/695, and an annual art subscription is $49.95 which it says covers “US$3 billion of art” which we understand is over 40,000 pieces as well as 100 curated sampler pieces for you to keep.
NETGEAR is highly aware of Australia’s dislike of annual subscriptions; hence in Australia, it comes with a three-year art subscription valued at about $70 per year.
I think one of the main uses will be to display your own work and here is the nice part – you can upload JPEG files (maximum 20MB each) remotely. While you are on holiday, you can show those envious ones back home what they are missing.
Using remote upload means that you access NETGEAR’s Meural cloud which can then pass through your home router to get to the Meural. We assume NETGEAR has remote IoT security issues covered.
At the media launch, we only saw still art (.jpeg), and overall it seemed as natural and detailed as the original – NETGEAR calls this TrueArt.
Meural hopes you will stop looking at one piece of still art and appreciate its every changing tableau. Each image has an art card – pop up details of the artist etc. You can also set up a playlist or a random presentation.
The elephant in the room – the power cable
It is a mini-computer in a picture frame and needs power. If you wall mount it the 2.4m cable will hang down, and the power brick is not that small either (102 x 51 x 33mm). Ugly is not quite the right word, but it spoils the appearance and intent.
Meural suggests things like using a blackboard easel or leaning it against the wall on a shelf. I suspect that if you buy it to wall hang you are going to need a plasterer and sparky to come in, and it may cost a few hundred dollars to conceal the cable. BTW – you wont see a power cable anywhere on its website!
Art is meant to be a feature on a wall, so consumers need to keep the costs of concealing the power cable and brick in mind. They also need to know that each Meural (if they bought multiple) needs a separate subscription – NETGEAR did say they were considering the implications of that.
I suspect that the corporate world will embrace it, just as they love hiring art and plants to decorate HQ. And to them, the cost is entirely tax deductible. And as corporate signage in reception with the ability to quickly upload things like greetings to new clients – it is a winner.
Now we have warned consumers about its one downside (power cable) it’s up to them to incorporate it in new home builds or new use cases.