Digital Signage is when companies use high-definition screens to display advertising and other video content in a way to attract viewers to take interest in their product. But how exactly do they get those advertisements to stay on the screen and loop over and over again?
Well, they’re using a digital signage player to show these video advertisements over and over again.
While the Digital Signage System consists of several components, Getting the right Media Player is critical to your success. So first, let’s learn about how do you choose the best one for you?
Choosing a Suitable Digital Signage Player
When choosing a digital signage player, most network operators use a personal computer (PC) running Windows or Linux, but it’s not the only option.
In recent years, Android players, Chrome OS, and systems on a chip (SoCs) have all become platforms. Each platform has found a following among digital signage network owners and operators.
Another option for digital signage is an Android-based player. These players are typically inexpensive and consume very little power. You can even buy a device with decent specs for under $100.
But, the downside of the Android operating system is that it’s not designed for digital signage, and they have a higher failure rate than other players, resulting in higher maintenance costs.
Chromebits & Chromeboxes
Other popular options for digital signage media players are Chromeboxes and Chromebits. While these are similar to conventional players, they run Google’s Chrome OS and are less expensive.
Chrome OS’s “single-app kiosk mode” is critical to the usefulness of digital signage. It represents off-the-shelf signage features that are sorely missing in platforms like Android.
The main downside of Chrome OS signage is the hardware limitations, which are nowhere near enough to support large signage projects.
Systems on a chip (SoCs)
What if the digital signage network didn’t need a player at all? That’s the thinking behind “system-on-a-chip” displays. In this context, a “SoCs” is effectively the equivalent of IoT digital signage.
Using this technology, the chipset included in the digital signage itself is the host of the digital signage software that delivers the content to the screen.
These types of systems are good options if your network is relatively simple, but they may not be adequate for networks that need to deliver a lot of ads or complex content.
Windows or Linux based PC
If you have a need for a digital signage media player that can run multiple forms of content at the same time, you can choose a PC-based solution. A PC-based player is often more powerful and can cover future growth.
However, Using regular computers as digital signage players require expensive components, which greatly increases the cost of building and maintaining large networks that perform a lot of computation. In these cases, you may want to consider a mini PC.
Why Use a Mini PC as Your Digital Signage Player?
Mini PCs are very compact and affordable. For as low as $400 you can have a devices for digital signage that you can attach right to the back of your monitor where it won’t even be seen.
They are also very quiet so people won’t even be able to tell it’s there. They are energy efficient and they can run for days or weeks on end without using much power and without interruption.
They use about 10x less power than a traditional desktop. These are powerful machines as well, Many mini PCs can support 4K high definition video without any problems or skipping even after running for long periods of time.
What Configurations are Important for Digital Signage?
There are certain things that you want to look for when you are choosing a mini PC for digital signage. Your digital signage player has to be powerful enough to continually run intense digital signage applications for days at a time.
Even though you may be looking for something cheap and affordable, you still have to make sure it’s powerful enough to do what you purchased it for. The last thing you want to happen is for your digital signage to distort or completely go out while a potential customer is looking at it.
Let’s have a look at some of these configurations:
- Supports 4K – Your digital signage is going to represent your company to thousands of potential buyers. Your videos must be in high quality 4K video quality in order to attract people to it. People are attracted to things that look larger than life. It has to stand out. You want to pick a digital signage PC that is going to be able to handle 4K video. Many mini PCs only handle up to 720p so it’s important when choosing your mini PC for digital signage that it’s able to support 4K.
- A wealth of Interfaces – Chances are that you have multiple screens that you want to use for digital signage. You also probably don’t want to have to purchase multiple devices. It’s important that you choose a mini PC that has a wealth of interfaces to be able to support multiple screens. Some mini PCs can support as many as 4 screens at one time. You can connect all 4 screens to one device and even show different digital signage on each screen. Or your can place all 4 screens together and have a giant display that is sure to attract many potential customers.
- Graphics Processor – Not only is it important to have a mini PC that can support 4K and also have a wealth of interfaces, but it has to be able to process up to four 4K screens at one time smoothly. Make sure that the digital signage PC you purchase has at least an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 GPU. This is one of the most powerful GPUs that has ever been invented and it is actually used in many traditional desktop PCs. This GPU is powerful enough to handle intense high-quality video across multiple screens.
- CPU and RAM – Having a fast and powerful CPU is going to be able to power your graphics processor to its full capability. A high amount of RAM is going to make it so that your high-quality digital signage runs continuously without skipping or stopping. You’ll want to make sure that you get a mini PC that has at least an Intel i5 CPU and 8GB of RAM so that your machine is powerful enough to give your graphics processor the extra computing resources to be able to continuously pump out high quality 4K video.
Recommended Digital Signage PCs
Here are a couple of recommended mini PCs for use as digital signage players:
The Mini iT8 is an extremely powerful mini PC for digital signage that has an Intel i5 processor, up to 16 GB of RAM, and an Intel Iris Plus Graphics 655 graphics processor. It comes with a copy of Windows 11 Pro pre-installed so you don’t have to worry about installing an operating system on it. It’s a very compact and lightweight system that comes with a VESA Mount so that you can mount it right on the back of a monitor or TV screen. It has a wealth of outputs and it supports up to 4 high-quality screens. It retails for $399.
Intel NUC 8
The Intel NUC 8 is also a pretty good mini PC for digital signage that also has an Intel i5 processor, 8GB of RAM, and an AMD graphics card. It comes with a copy of Windows 10 installed. It is about the same size as the Mini iT8 and can also be mounted to the back of a screen. It has a high amount of inputs and it supports up to 3 screens at one time. It retails for $610.
Mini iT8 VS Intel NUC 8
The Mini iT8 is going to be the best bang for your buck. For only $399 it has way more features than the NUC 8 has at $610. The iT8 can handle up to 4 screens while the NUC 8 can only handle 3. The iT8 comes with Windows 11 while the NUC 8 only has Windows 10. For only $70 extra the iT8 can be shipped with 16GB RAM but the NUC 8 only has 8GB RAM. All around the Mini iT8 is going to be a superior digital signage PC at a much lower price.