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Selecting Components For A Digital Signage Solution

Hardware

Digital Signage Application

The first concern of setting up a digital signage solution would be identifying the hardware require for your digital signage set up. The main hardware components would include the displays, mounts and media converters.

An important part of choosing a display is to make sure to select a Commercial display vs a consumer display. Commercial grade displays normally have the following advantages over consumer displays. They offer a multi-year on-site warranty for LCD or plasma displays. They are made to withstand long operating hours by using specialized internal design for proper heat dissipation.

Most of them include serial interfaces in order to remotely control the operation of the TV as well as PC or video loop through for setting up multiple displays. The consumer grade displays normally have a much shorter warranty and are not built to be run very long operating hours.

The next factor about selecting a display would be choosing LCD or Plasma. Both LCD and plasmas are good at providing high brightness and excellent color reproduction. The advantage LCDs have over Plasma is that they are lighter weight, consume less power, and normally can be used for longer period of time. The disadvantages would be that the larger sizes of flat panels are a higher price, are not appropriate for 24/7/365 operation, and have a more fragile display surface.

Plasma displays has excellent uniformity, broad angle of view (170 degrees), great contrast ratio and a more durable display surface. Plasmas have the disadvantage of higher power consumption, heavier weight, and have the possibility of image burn in.

When selecting a display you will also want to think about how the display will be mounted. The different styles of mounts include wall or ceiling mounts, carts and stands, and enclosures.

A media player is a device capable of playing software and converting it into a video image that is output through a standard connector to a display. Media players are normally separated into 2 categories, computer based players and stand alone hardware players. The computer based players are a lot more flexible in what software programs that they can support. Computer based players are normally sold separately from the software package and are normally easy to upgrade or replace failing components. Stand alone players have more in common with a DVD player than a computer. It is normally tied to a specific software package and generally cannot run other types of software. Stand alone players are normally lower cost than computer based players, require less hardware, perform fewer tasks and have a smaller form factor.

Software

A digital signage system would need to have software in order to drive the content that would be displayed. The software would be located on the media player being used. There are various different features that software could control. Some software comes with time management controls that allow you to automatically turn off/on displays and stream different content at different times of the day. Content creation also services as a key aspect of selecting software. The first model of content creation allows the customer to use standard content types (like AVI, MPEG or JPEG) and import them into the signage software. The second model would be to use entirely integrated tools that would only allow the user to design and create all the content within the software package.

The content would be the images, videos, messages, graphics and audio that is presented on the displays of a digital signage system. The content is directly responsible for delivering the message that the user is trying to convey. The content displayed could be for art, informational, entertainment, commerce or marketing.

Connectivity

Connectivity in a digital signage solution is normally handled over a network. The network could be set up as a wired or wireless environment. In a wired setup, the connectivity would normally go from the transmitting unit to the receiving unit via a network cable (Cat5e or Cat6). The receiver unit is what normally would have the video output on it like VGA, DVI, HDMI or DisplayPort to connect the receiving unit to the display. Wireless connectivity would be a similar set up except it would not need the Ethernet cable between sender and receiver. It would use the wireless Ethernet IEEE 802.11b/g/n standard for wireless communication between the transmitter and receiver device. The wireless device would still require a video cable connection from the receiver to the display and from the transmitter to the source device.

This white paper is for informational purposes only and is subject to change without notice. C2G makes no guarantees, either expressed or implied, concerning the accuracy, completeness or reliability of the information found in this document.