One thing, done well

I bought a digital photo frame yesterday. On the face of it, this should be a pretty straightforward product. You stick a memory card in it that has photos on it, and it randomly cycles through them. But of course, the manufacturers of China can't stick with something so straightforward. Oh no, in the electronics manufacturing world you have to cram in a whole bunch of features that nobody needs into a simple product. Then crown it with a user interface that would make a 1980s VCR manufacturer blush.

So this thing, instead of just showing photos, also plays back video and sound files (thus requiring a speaker) and, of course, has a clock and calendar function. Because a clock is a mandatory feature for any electronics device. You wouldn't want to spend the next change to or from daylight savings sitting around the house with nothing to do, would you?

So what's my problem with all these extra features I'll never use? I can just ignore them, right? Well the problem is that instead of spending time making sure the thing works well for the one thing people buy it for, they've blown it on this stupid crap. I discover, after quite a bit of troubleshooting, that it doesn't support progressive JPEG files, something that's been supported in browsers since 1995 at least. This is the default format used by Smugmug for their resized photos. So I had to convert all those photos.

Then of course the UI is appalling. You can't seem to get back to the menu from the Settings page. Instead I had to turn it off, then on again to get back to "view photo" mode. There's no randomize feature, it seems, so you can get a random next photo. WTF? Surely this would be a base feature? And the UI crashes randomly, because they spent more time working on video decoding than fixing bugs in the stuff that counts. Grrrrr!

I also don't see why these things are so expensive. I'd expect the price to be where it is if it did something truly cool, like have a wireless connection and it just connects to your photo store and displays photos. But it seems instead an 8 inch 800x600 LCD with some basic electronics (and a bunch of crap you don't need) is $200 or so?