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The Back-Off: Modular frames come down to a photo finish

What. The photo frame industry continues to survive, even in the digital era, by providing a physical home for digital memories. However, the proliferation of digital images from smartphones have overwhelmed the ability to keep up with framing. Two Kickstarter projects – Fotobit and Republic Frames – each have a similar take on this problem.

Why. Both Fotobit and Republic Frames have the same idea: modular frames that can be clipped together to create unique “storyboards” to tell a tale through photographs. Fotobit’s uniform squares — optimized for Instagram — look ultra-modern, like a kind of photograph Tetris that can be installed with a single nail and include a clip for a bubble level to make sure they’re straight. Republic Frames uses stainless steel and clear magnetic clips to hold photos in place and arrange them in any 3D paneling scheme. A 3-pack of 4”x4” Fotobit frames costs $30, while a 2-pack of 4”x6” Republic Frames is $79.

When. Both of these California companies launched their Kickstarters within a day of each other, and are both running 30-day campaigns. Republic Frames was first to post, but Fotobit expects its product to ship in May 2014 compared to Republic Frames’ June.

Winner. The number of options the Republic Frames setup offers is more convenient, with frames for two different sizes of photos and a host of configuration schemes that do more than rest on walls as the Fotobits must.

However, there’s something to be said about the uniformity of Fotobit when you can get roughly four times the frames for the same cost. Plus, there’s something about the way the Fotobits can still be creatively deployed, but that boils down to a matter of personal taste. In terms of price and shipping date, Fotobit looks like the winner here, but Republic Frames is a close, close second.

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