Warning: Do not purchase "The Frame" by Samsung for vertical playback

TL;DR: Do not purchase the display if you intend to use it in a vertical orientation (unless you’re willing to deep dive into modifying the display hardware itself)!

The Frame (QE32LS03T) is a display manufactured by Samsung. Its artsy presentation makes it seem great for digital signage. Unfortunately there’s a major issue when trying to use the display in vertical mode: The display automatically rotates the content which makes it impossible to play 9:16 vertical content.

Here’s what one of info-beamer’s customers set up:

The issue is that the three vertically oriented displays cannot correctly fill the complete screen. As an example: The Pi connected to the right display produces a 1920x1080 FullHD HDMI signal. The generated output on the Pi looks like this:

image

Unfortunately the display automatically rotates this HDMI signal based on its physical orientation. I guess there’s a sensor similar to the one in this demo somewhere. Basically the received HDMI signal is rotated to always stay horizontal. Of course the 1920x1080 HDMI signal then only fills a small part of the available display space with the remaining area being black/unused:

image

What’s remarkably stupid is that there doesn’t seem to any way to disable this magic rotation feature. I’m not sure what Samsung has been thinking. One might even conclude that they intentionally messed up any vertical output to ensure the built-in “Art Store” subscription service is the only way to use the display in vertical mode. Happy to hear any other reasonable explanation.

One way to work around this could be to send a 1080x1920 HDMI signal. This should then fit into the rotated display. We tried the following custom config setting:

hdmi_timings=1080 0 18 16 48 1920 0 8 16 10 0 0 0 60 0 136000000 1
hdmi_group=2
hdmi_mode=87
hdmi_ignore_edid=0xa5000080
hdmi_cvt 1080 1920 60
max_framebuffer_width=1080
max_framebuffer_height=1920

On the device detail page it seems like the device correctly outputs the 1080x1920 video signal:

image

Unfortunately the display wasn’t happy with that. It even displayed the corresponding error screen in the rotated version that doesn’t fill the screen:

image

It’s really difficult to imagine how Samsung produced such a display without the option to disable their magic rotation feature. There’s tons of complains regarding this issue:

And one Samsungs community discussion (another one seems to have been removed/censored):

  • https://us.community.samsung.com/t5/QLED-and-The-Frame/32-Frame-TV-How-to-turn-off-auto-rotate-for-HDMI-source-portrait/td-p/1903409/

    I had this same issue and tried all sorts of tricks. I ended up returning the TV out of frustration. Too bad the TV does not have feature to disable the auto rotate.

    This TV is advertised as being able to rotate! That is the ONLY reason I bought it… it is ridiculous that people are unable to turn off the auto rotate feature. Is it possible to add this options in the menu?

    It’s silly that a TV that doesn’t have a rotation sensor would actually work better. What’s the purpose of rotating the TV when most content displays huge black bars? […]

Happy to add to this post if there is a viable solution. Until then: Do not purchase this display for vertical playback!

Hey everyone,

the OP images are actually from one of our installations. For this particular setup we had everything custom made so no cables would be visible etc - and the setup would just work with these screens (unless spending a lot more money to re-do everything). So what does one do? Open up the devices…

Totally do this at your own risk! You will void the warranty.
Is it silly you have to do this hardware workaround for something that probably takes less than an hour to implement in first place? Absolutely. So lets get to it…

Step 0: Power on in Horizontal direction!
The screen will actually remember the last position and if it doesn’t have the sensor available, it will stay in the last position. So if you want to use it vertically full-screen, you actually must make sure it is in Horizontal direction. Turn it on, off and back on and off again to make sure it saved its settings.

Step 1: Open Case
This is fairly easy. Remove all of the decorative side covers, turn te device around and remove the mounting screws. There are NO hidden screws. Simply force the case open - in our case of the 4 screens only 1 screen had one small plastic nose broken off - didn’t cause any problems when closing again…

Step 2: Locate the IR-Board
Just locate the “small” board that sticks out on the side. Carefully remove the plastic assembly form the metal case - DO NOT STICK A SCREW DRIVER INTO THE HOLES while removing! You could damage the panel!

Step 3: Unplug board…
It is some kind of JST connector that has a small hook so it doesn’t come lose. Just press small locking mechanism and the JST should come loose.

Step 4: Done! Tape down the cable…
We taped down the cable so it sticks out on the top slightly in case we ever need to use the IR remote… This is optional, but it made sense to us.

And here is the finished, fully working setup…


If you ever want to see this setup in real-life, visit Weingut Loos in Franconia :wink:

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