A Tech Trip Down Memory Lane

Rating:
9/10
?

  • 1 – Absolute Hot Garbage
  • 2 – Sorta Lukewarm Garbage
  • 3 – Strongly Flawed Design
  • 4 – Some Pros, Lots Of Cons
  • 5 – Acceptably Imperfect
  • 6 – Good Enough to Buy On Sale
  • 7 – Great, But Not Best-In-Class
  • 8 – Fantastic, with Some Footnotes
  • 9 – Shut Up And Take My Money
  • 10 – Absolute Design Nirvana

Price: $249+

Marcus Mears III / How-To Geek

Are you a tech enthusiast with a blank wall or some extra shelf space? GRID Studio fills frames with your favorite electronics from the past to create eye-pleasing art with a story behind it. Whether you like the first-gen iPhone or the PS Vita, you can get one with artistic flair from GRID Studio.

Here’s What We Like

  • Immortalizes your favorite classic tech
  • Fills blank walls of tech-enthusiasts
  • Expert craftsmanship

And What We Don’t

  • Front panel isn’t anti-glare
  • No other framing options

The team at GRID Studio was generous enough to send me two frames for review. Here’s a closer look at the GRID 1 (first-generation iPhone) and GRID Game Boy Color. But don’t worry, if you’re an Android user, they also have a deconstructed Google Pixel, Samsung Galaxy, and more.

GRID 1: 1st-Generation iPhone

GRID Studio 1 hanging on wall
Marcus Mears III / How-To Geek
  • Frame Size: 13 x 13 x 1.8 in (33.02 x 33.02 x 4.57cm)

As soon as I saw pictures of the GRID 1, a stylized first-generation iPhone, I wanted it on my wall. A piece of technology as iconic and revolutionary as the 2007 smartphone deserves to be framed, and GRID Studio absolutely does it justice.

Opening the box and unsheathing the frame from its ornate packaging, you’ll also find a few welcome additions: a photo of a worker assembling a GRID 1 by hand, a thank-you card with instructions to enter a giveaway, and a foldable timeline of the iPhone from the now 15-year-old earthshaking creation to the modern powerhouses that are the 2020 models.

Peering through the front plastic viewing panel is like looking through a window to a time before 5G and 12MP cameras. These frames are better observed in person, as the front panel isn’t glare-resistant in any way—this can make pictures difficult to capture. I’d consider shelling out a few extra bucks if GRID Studio offered an anti-glare glass version, but the plastic panel works well enough for most viewing situations.

The device’s title is displayed at the top left with its anodized aluminum exterior directly underneath. Seeing this classic, bulky brick of a backside again makes me truly appreciate how thin the powerful phones of today are becoming. That’s one of the foremost reasons I enjoy looking at GRID Studio’s art; of course, it’s aesthetically pleasing, but it’s also thought-provoking.

You’ll find dimensions and other tidbits of information about the first-gen iPhone scattered throughout the parts as well. These contribute to the deconstructed, “piece-by-piece” look, breaking parts down into more than their tangible building blocks.

At the bottom of the frame is a quote from Steve Jobs, the late founder of Apple:

“The people who are crazy enough to think they can change the world, are the ones who do.”

Jobs and the iPhone undoubtedly changed the world, and seeing it hanging on your wall puts a penny in the inspiration bank.

GRID 1 framed art resting on countertop
Marcus Mears III / How-To Geek

Something you may notice when looking through GRID Studio’s catalog of retired tech is that every shadowbox is black and every matte background is white; you’re out of luck if you want your iPhone framed in another color (unless you want to replace the frame yourself, which is entirely possible).

The black and white color combo meshes well with most walls, bookshelves, desks, or countertops you’d want to display your art on, though.

It’s important to note that supplies for the GRID 1 are extremely limited, and you may have to enter the drawing for a chance to buy one. This scarcity, along with GRID Studio’s expert craftsmanship in cleanly deconstructing and reassembling the device, explains the $699 price tag attached to this artwork.

GRID Game Boy Color: Framed Memories

GRID Game Boy Color hanging on wall
Marcus Mears III / How-To Geek
  • Frame Size: 13 x 13 x 1.8 in (33.02 x 33.02 x 4.57cm)

If you, like me, have fond memories of playing Pokémon Red and Bomberman by worm light on the Game Boy Color (released 1998) during nighttime car and bus rides, you’ll be just as excited to see your childhood handheld immortalized as art.

There are some noticeable stylization differences between this piece and the GRID 1; rather than straight, minimalist linework, the GRID Game Boy Color features retro, tech-inspired lines to help denote individual components.

Following that trend, instead of extra info and quotes from a founder, GRID Studio included video game references like 1UP from Super Mario Bros. and a graphic from the Pokémon Yellow opening scenes in this design. The bottom-right corner of the frame displays the Game Boy Color slogan: “Escape to a world of color.”

As modern-day graphics creep ever toward imitating realism, it’s easy to forget how much joy came from 160×144 pixels. One glance at this frame was enough to flood my thoughts with the games I played in elementary school and create the desire to download an emulator.

The cartridge slot on the backside exterior also made me nostalgic for the feeling of opening up a brand-new physical copy of a game that you’ve been waiting to play—purchasing and instantly downloading a game from Steam is convenient and all, but where’s the fun in that?

You probably won’t have to stare too long to notice a stark difference between the Game Boy Color you used and those that GRID Studio packages up: there’s almost no noticeable wear and tear. The components have been cleaned and polished to a degree I’d consider nearly immaculate, especially considering they were technological waste not so long ago.

Sure, there’s a stain on the speaker here or a faint scuff on the exterior there, but nothing you’d notice unless you’ve been looking at it for weeks on end as I have.

A link to the past, a conversation piece, and artwork to fill your blank spaces; it’s yours for $249. As with the GRID 1, you can only pick this frame up in black with a white background. The same plastic front panel is found across frames as well.

While I’m glad it picked an unassuming color scheme that goes well just about anywhere, I’d like to see GRID Studio come out with a few more framing and front panel options (even if it’s a special made-to-order service).

Is GRID Studio Framed Art Worth it?

Absolutely. If you’re connected to the tech of the past in any way, or you just like how deconstructed devices look, you should consider decorating with GRID Studio frames. They also make especially interesting gift ideas for the tech-inclined in your circle.

Depending on your choice of frame, you may recoil at the price tag; if you ask me, nothing in GRID Studio’s collection is priced unfairly. That doesn’t mean it won’t burn a hole in your wallet, though.

Also, make sure to keep the frame and background color in mind: if you don’t have a place for a black frame, you’ll need to replace it yourself.

Note: GRID Studio’s products sell out quickly due to the scarcity of materials they use. If you see a frame you want is out of stock, check back in some time to see if another batch has been assembled.

If you have a place and person for it, GRID Studio frames are an artistic trip down memory lane with tech as the guide. Frames start at $158 and go up to $699 at the most expensive.

Rating: 9/10

Price: $249+

Here’s What We Like

  • Immortalizes your favorite classic tech
  • Fills blank walls of tech-enthusiasts
  • Expert craftsmanship

And What We Don’t

  • Front panel isn’t anti-glare
  • No other framing options