As a business owner, you know that digital signage can help you increase sales. Digital signage software enables you to attract new customers while enhancing the experience of existing ones. Additionally, digital displays help you put information out there for the world to see, enhancing your brand awareness. Given these factors, opting for digital signage solutions makes perfect sense for your business.
The digital signage market is growing at an alarming rate. For example, its value stood at $21.49 billion in 2020. Besides, the prediction is that it’ll grow at a compound annual growth rate of 7.5% between 2021 and 2028.
The market is undoubtedly flooded with various types of digital signage solutions. As such, it can be a dilemma for you when trying to choose from among them. This article dives explicitly into five crucial things to know before purchasing a digital signage player.
Types of Digital Signage Media Players
The media player is the hardware that casts the digital sign into the digital screen through an HDMI or USB port. It carries the digital display content in its memory cache or streams it through a WIFI connection. Media players are available in various sizes and shapes, all suited for different budgets, purposes, and compatibility with multiple hardware resources. Besides, digital players fall into three major categories that impact the success of your digital signage project. They include:
- Consumer media players: Ideal for use with a consumer TV and not for heavy usage in professional settings. They have a low processing power and usually don’t have a resolution greater than Full HD (1080p). Players in this category also tend to have a much shorter warranty than their commercial and industrial counterparts.
- Commercial media players: Mostly made of metal, durable, and withstand rigorous applications without damaging any internal components. Moreover, their computing power is better, and they can stream 4K video in multiple zones. Most models have reliable WIFI capabilities, allowing you to access, control, schedule, and update them remotely. They’re ideal for use in a retail store, paired with commercial displays.
- Industrial media players: Beyond the capabilities of consumer and commercial media players, industrial media players provide consistent output in the most extreme conditions. This means they’ll manage to keep playing a sign regardless of the environment.
With the types of digital media players in mind, the following are other factors you should know before purchasing a digital signage player.
Digital Signage Player Performance
You want your digital signage display to be as smooth as possible and without interruptions. The media player platform you choose essentially determines whether you achieve that effect or not. Hence, there’s a bit more complexity in selecting a digital media player than digital display screens. The most significant factor that influences a player’s effectiveness is its performance, which incorporates the following five key elements:
1. System on Chip(SOC) or Central Processing Unit (CPU)
System on Chip in media players is a device that handles all the heavy lifting. It comprises the GPU, CPU, storage, RAM, outputs, video codecs, and connectivity options. Thus, you need to choose a media player with a reliable SOC key.
SOC and CPU have the same breadth of application in digital signage devices. Markedly, there are many options for the best SOC or CPU. However, try to settle for a device with the latest generation. For example:
- Amlogic S912 SOC and an included processor for Android TV boxes.
- Celeron Core m3, Core m5, Core i7, Core i5, Core i3 devices for Chrome OS devices, and Windows PC boxes are excellent choices. On the contrary, Atom devices aren’t ideal as they’re less powerful.
- Amazon Fire, Chromebit, and Apple iOS devices all make excellent options for operating systems as well. Most manufacturers have optimized them for compatibility with various processors.
2. Graphics Processing Unit
The Graphics Processing Unit (GPU) is much like the Central Processing Unit (CPU) in a computer. Therefore, you need to check that it’s up to the task of effectively displaying your digital sign or the type of media you have. Besides, it’s one of the determining factors on the quality of image you can show. 4K videos require a much better GPU than full HD ones.
If the screen size of your digital display is large, it’s crucial to purchase a player with a high-quality GPU. You’ll have the guarantee of clear and vivid images with excellent resolution. On the other hand, static and simple pictures can get away with a lower-quality GPU.
3. WIFI Connectivity
You need a player with reliable WIFI connectivity if you’ll be streaming your interactive content from the cloud. An excellent place to start is with a player capable of connecting to G, N, or 802.11ac WIFI sources. The reason is that these sources allow a strong connection and fast speeds.
While at it, think about the kind of internet security your player has in place. This is crucial in protecting it from external attacks. As an illustration, media players with WPA2-Enterprise or WPA-2-PSK provide better protection and are more complex for malicious actors to hack. Alternatively, you can choose a digital media player with an Ethernet port. Such provide high speeds and accommodate extensive internet bandwidth.
4. Storage Drive
The storage drive of your media player needs enough space for cached media, as some of it goes to the operating system and apps. You must have plenty of storage space if your player requires to store data or files to display them on the screen. In other words, if you don’t want to stream content but instead want to upload a file to your player, storage space is of the essence.
As a matter of fact, high-resolution images and videos tend to take up a lot of storage space. The recommendable media players are those with at least 8GB, with 16GB being a better option. Additionally, go for a device with SSD storage instead of HDD storage, checking that it has excellent write and read speeds.
5. Network Security
For every internet connection you set up through a WIFI network, you need a different network security level. To keep your connection secure, avoid using WEP, Open, or WPA networks. The reason is that the Open type has no security at all, and the WEP and WPA-PSK are old security protocols with many security vulnerabilities.
WPA2-PSK is a more secure option. However, depending on the circumstances, you need an even higher network security protocol like WPA-2 Enterprise. Unfortunately, only a few digital signage devices support this protocol. Therefore, you may need expert digital signage help when you need to connect devices to this network.
While you now know what to look for before purchasing a digital signage player, the ultimate decision depends on your digital signage needs.