The thoughts, opinions, happenings, and just plain ramblings of a seemingly boring person.

Using a Cheap(ish) Android Tablet as a Digital Photo Frame

Like any regular family, we've taken a fair bit (probably too many) of digital photos over the years, especially since the kids came along.

I've dutifully put them all in organised folders on our home NAS, and of course, made sure that it is all backed up.

However, when do we actually look at our photos? Hardly ever, unless some special occasion prompts us to have a look back in time.

So, I thought I'd look into getting a digital photo frame that we could put in our living room and would randomly display photos directly from our NAS. To my surprise, there isn't really much on the market that is capable of it.

Most digital photo frames are really basic, and just show images off an SD card or USB stick. The few that were a bit 'smart' required integrations into Google Drive/Photos, Facebook, or some other cloud service. I've purposefully kept most of our personal data off the cloud (except for our client-encrypted zero-knowledge backup), so that wasn't an option.

Many people online suggested getting a cheap Android tablet and running an app like Fotoo to handle the slideshow.

So that's what I did.

I got the cheapest 10" tablet I could find from a brand that I've heard of: the Lenovo Tab M10 for $205 from Officeworks. It's not a very high-res tablet, but because we're never really that close to it, it's more than adequate. I also paid for the premium version of Fotoo, which at $34 was the most I've ever spent on a mobile app.

In addition to fancy pan+zoom and transition effects, Fotoo has the option to show things like the photo's time and date, as well as the folder the photo resides in. It connects via WiFi and accesses the NAS's network share over regular SMB.

The Lenovo tablet has built-in scheduling for shutting down and turning on, so I didn't need to resort to something like Tasker to do that for me. Fotoo has an option to start on boot, so it's been working really well at automatically turning itself off at night, and on in the morning.

I also got a cheap tablet stand to prop it up, and a long USB cord to connect it to power. Overall, the spend for the whole solution was about $260.

I'm delighted with the result. More than a few times, I'll be walking past it and stop to admire some memories that I would otherwise rarely ever see.

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