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Digital picture frames and random image order

I am moving into an office. And as any proud husband and father, I want to have photos of my wife and daughter on my desk. The year being 2012, I did not hike to the photo shop to get a print framed, but instead thought to myself that I should put a digital photo frame onto my table.

This idea exposed me to the ridiculous world of consumer electronics. It led me to conclude that digital picture frame designers need to be whacked with cluebats.

Step by step…

Once accepted, the thought of a digital photo frame developed into a product definition along the following lines: my idea photo frame would connect to my Wifi-network, and obtain the photos on-the-go from a folder exposed via HTTP or CIFS, and then go on to display them in random order, incorporating new photos as it encounters them.

With this in mind, I went to the shops, and since I believe in specialised retailers and want to support them, my first stop was Foto Sauter at Sendlinger Tor. Unfortunately, none of the frames they had came with Wifi, so I decided to look further. I vehemently oppose to the business practices of the Metro group, thus skipped Saturn and MediaMarkt, and eventually ended up at Conrad.

They had a frame with Wifi! I jumped for joy, until I read the manual: pictures can be obtained from Flickr and Picasa. Period.

All other models on the Internet seem to be similarly limited, including the new Sony S-frame.

The night before, Penny had researched the field a bit and came to the conclusion that the S-frame would be the best product available. This led me to scratch Wifi off my requirements list and get a model that would read photos off a USB stick.

I went back to the photo store and bought a "Sony S-frame", only to discover that it cannot show photos in random order. It has three viewing modes (single photo, collage, single photo with clock), … and a random mode, but guess what: the random mode randomly switches the viewing modes, which then display the photos in lexicographical order.

How stupid is that???

I returned the product and left the store after discovering that none of their products could do random playback.

I went back to Conrad and found an "Intenso MediaCreator" (what media does it create???), which displayed the photos seemingly randomly.

But at home I found out that the "random" order is always the same, probably because the bright engineer that programmed this thought it was better to sort filenames by last letter and call it random, than to figure out a way to roll a dice on the device.

I wrote to the support team and asked them. The response was that the desired functionality (random selection) is not possible and won't be made available.

So I am returning the product.

Gah!

Would someone please tell me about a digital picture frame (8 inch or so) that can display images in random order, ideally loading them off a CIFS share via Wifi?

Or is it really the case that consumer electronics are completely useless these days, by which I mean that "consumers" have dumbed down so far to buy this crap?

Update: a lot of people wrote in suggesting to invest in a cheap Android tablet. Some suggested Raspberry Pis in USB host mode (emulating the USB stick and hence the source of the images, provided that the frame doesn't cache). Other suggestions included the Samsung SPF-85V which can display images according to an RSS feed but needs Microsoft for that (or maybe not), and the community-developed, Linux-based Joggler.

Regarding the non-random order on the Intenso frame, Paul Hedderly postulated that the order comes from the filesystems (FAT order) and can be changed by writing the files differently.