XreArt Frames Review: Recycled Tech Made Chic

 

Xreart Nintendo Game Boy Pocket frame and Xreart PSP 1000 frame side by side

Technology—smartphones, handheld game consoles, and so on—from the 1990s and 2007s is iconic, and for good reason. Many of these devices defined my childhood, and I’m sure that’s the same story for a lot of other people out there. XreArt Studios makes framed art out of these well-known devices, and oh my, the result is stunning.

This framed tech art actually has a hilarious origin. XreArt Studios was established in 2019 as a photography studio, but later that year, the idea for framing deconstructed technology was born after the company’s lead photographer, Zach, broke his iPhone 6. And when I say “broke his iPhone 6,” I mean accidentally dropped it from a five-meter roof, rendering it useless. But as this lover of Apple products looked at his lifeless iPhone 6, an idea struck, and thus XreArt’s beautiful framed art was born.

It actually wasn’t until so many of his friends and family commented on the disassembled iPhone 6 hanging on Zach’s wall that the company decided to pursue the idea as an extension of the existing XreArt Studios photography business. Starting in 2021, people were able to buy select deconstructed devices, most of which were old iPhones or handheld gaming consoles.

It’s worth noting that in late 2020, a similar company—Grid Studio—was founded, creating nearly identical framed art from old phones, game consoles, and so on, and the only noticeable difference between products from these two companies is design choice—how the components are laid out, the font and line style used, and the black external frame. We reviewed Grid Studio’s Google Pixel 1 framed art back in 2021 and found it to be a quality product. Because frames from XreArt Studios didn’t officially hit the market until 2021, it’s not entirely clear which company had the idea first, but products from both companies look fantastic!

I was lucky enough to receive two framed art pieces from XreArt Studios to inspect and review: Sony’s PSP 1000 and Nintendo’s Game Boy Pocket. As a lover of tech—especially retro gaming consoles—I was over the moon with both of these. Without further ado, let’s dive into what exactly each framed art has to offer and why I love them so much.

Here's What We Like

  • Gorgeous to look at
  • Neat to learn which components are inside and how they work
  • Such a unique piece of art

And What We Don't

  • Frame could be made of more durable materials
  • Pricey

Review Geek's expert reviewers go hands-on with each product we review. We put every piece of hardware through hours of testing in the real world and run them through benchmarks in our lab. We never accept payment to endorse or review a product and never aggregate other people’s reviews.

Build Quality

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Xreart PSP 1000 framed art with protective film in open box
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Xreart PSP 1000 framed art please remove message printed on protective film
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Scratch on top right corner of frame on a new Xreart framed art
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Back side of Xreart frame showing hanging points and turing clips on back cover
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The design and overall structure of both XreArt frames I received are great but not without slight flaws. Starting with the outer frame, it’s super light—which leads me to believe it’s made with a cheaper material—and one of my two frames had scratches on the top right corner in the front that wouldn’t buff out.

Then, there were more scratches on the backing that was holding everything in place, and it was impossible to move the fastener pieces without creating more scratches. But seeing as how you don’t really look at the back of a frame, and most people would probably hang it, those scratches didn’t bother me or affect the aesthetic of the piece.

For how much an XreArt piece costs, I wish there was a more premium wood frame—or at least, the option to upgrade to a solid wood frame, possibly in different colors. It’d also be nice if you could upgrade the existing Plexiglass, which is transparent acrylic plastic, to true glass for an extra fee. That said, Plexiglass is usually stronger and more shatter-resistant than glass, as well as more able to withstand the elements.

Sony PSP 1000

The PSP 1000 from Sony was first released in 2004, a neat fact that XreArt includes at the top of the corresponding frame. At the top, you’ll see the main console body with branched lines going to the deconstructed buttons and joystick. There are the rear left and right buttons, the arrow button bundle on the left, the four separate PlayStation icon buttons on the right, and the three pieces of the joystick. Then, the PlayStation icon buttons have an additional branch going to the button board underneath, which was responsible for registering your button presses and displaying the proper command on the console’s screen.

Xreart PSP 1000 framed art sitting on desk next to another Xreart frame

All the techy components are displayed at the bottom of the paper template, including the logic board, circuit board, card slot to read games, charger connector piece, optical drive, and a gear from the optical drive. If a piece came from a specific part on the logic board, there’s a line drawn from the piece to its old location on the board. Then, the speakers are displayed separately toward the center of the template paper.

It’s so incredibly cool to see how many components were powering the PSP 1000 and fueling my childhood memories. I love that everything is labeled so you know exactly what each piece is titled, for enhancing my own knowledge as well as making it easier to research what each piece was responsible for while running a game.

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Close up of top half of Xreart PSP 1000 framed art
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Close up of components in bottom half of Xreart PSP 1000 framed art
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Nintendo Game Boy Pocket

Even though the Game Boy Pocket is from Nintendo and the PSP 1000 is from Sony, it’s neat to see the side-by-side construction of each handheld console. Obviously, many parts are similar, but the internal configuration is different, and the Game Boy Pocket needed two AAA batteries while the PSP 1000 had a rechargeable lithium battery.

Xreart GameBoy Pocket framed art sitting on desk next to another Xreart frame

The external case for the Game Boy Pocket is split in half, with the back half showing where the two AAA batteries would go, and the front half emptied of its buttons, displaying a game of Tetris. All of its buttons are properly labeled—the D-pad, A and B buttons, Select and Start Buttons—and connected to the console with drawn lines.

Then, the speaker pops out below where it was housed in the console, and the CPU MGB is the star of the frame’s right side. You can see where the headphone jack and DC input ports were located at the bottom and where the power circuit lived in the CPU. All in all, this is a stunning piece of art, just like Sony’s PSP 1000.

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Close up of top half of Xreart Nintendo Game Boy Pocket framed art
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Close up of battery cover of Xreart Nintendo Game Boy Pocket framed art
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Other Frame Options

If you didn’t grow up playing Sony’s PSP 1000 or Nintendo’s Game Boy Pocket, there are quite a few other portable consoles to choose between. From Nintendo, there’s the original Game Boy (1989), the Game Boy Color (1998), the Game Boy Advance (2001), and the Game Boy Advance SP (2003). From Sony, there’s also the PSP 2000 that was released in 2007.

Or, if you don’t care about old handheld consoles, there are other devices to gush over, including a first-gen Apple Watch, a first-gen iPod Touch, and old cell phones, though most of these are iPhones from Apple. You can find a deconstructed Nokia E71 and Samsung Galaxy S, but all the other phones are early series iPhones spanning a period of 10 years.

For any of the devices, XreArt Studios has a frame for, you can purchase a DIY kit for the full experience, start to finish. If you already have one of these devices and it’s just been sitting in your junk drawer for years, this is a great way to repurpose it. Plus, there’s something special about knowing that the deconstructed device in the frame is actually yours and not just some random used phone.

Where Does XreArt Source the Devices?

If you purchase five PSP 1000 frames from XreArt, they’re not going to look identical. Even though the parts are all organized the same way on the template paper, the device displayed inside is unique to that frame. XreArt Studio sources used phones and old portable gaming consoles and then tore them down rather than building replicas.

Once XreArt has a fresh batch of used devices, there’s a lot of work involved in getting them ready for their closeups. Each device is carefully disassembled, cleaned, sterilized, redesigned, positioned, and finally framed.

The only part XreArt Studios won’t source from the original device? The battery, if there is one. Instead, the company uses dummy battery case models to avoid any potential dangers, like a battery swelling and then bursting or the escape of hazardous gasses and poisonous chemicals.

Verdict: Yes. A Thousand Times Yes.

Sure, the actual frame’s materials could be of better quality, but considering that was the only minor negative thing I had to say about these gems from XreArt Studios—I’d highly, highly recommend buying your favorite for yourself or your techy friends and family. As soon as I saw these frames, I immediately started thinking of which ones would be fantastic gifts for the people that are usually hard to buy gifts for. Preserving old smartphones, game consoles, and smartwatches in a neat piece of art is such a fantastic and unique way to recycle old electronics instead of throwing them away.

Rating:
9/10

Price:
Starting At 199.99

Here’s What We Like

  • Gorgeous to look at
  • Neat to learn which components are inside and how they work
  • Such a unique piece of art

And What We Don't

  • Frame could be made of more durable materials
  • Pricey

Original Article