If you’re thinking about purchasing a digital signage solution, you’re probably curious as to what exactly you’ll be getting. You want to know what’s provided, and what you’ll need to supply. In other words, what are the components of a digital signage solution? It’s another common question our clients ask us, and we’re happy to answer it here on this blog.
Not all digital signage solutions are the same, but they all tend to have the same basic components. This article applies to cloud-based digital signage, a solution in which your digital signage provider handles the servers hosting your content. Here are the five components of a complete digital signage solution (click to jump).
Component #1: Digital Displays
The most obvious need when implementing a digital signage solution is the need for displays. Anything with an HDMI port will work, with TV screens being the most popular choice. Most digital signage solutions are compatible with any HDMI-equipped digital display at any resolution, from HD up to 4K/Ultra HD or more.
By default, most digital signage companies don’t provide you with displays unless you ask. Fortunately, selecting and purchasing them isn’t difficult these days, considering the many high-quality yet affordable options out there.
First, you’ll want to choose which type(s) of display to use. Some options are:
Tablets are your smallest display option. They’re good for saving space, if that’s an issue. They can be mounted on a wall or propped up on a flat surface using a stand. Usually with this option, the tablet functions as your digital signage player (we’ll get to this shortly) and display, making it a built-in, portable solution. You’ll need to make sure it’s adequately charged at all times.
TV screens are the most common digital display choice. They’re widely available in many different brands, sizes and resolutions, and easy to set up. In certain configurations, they can be very cost-effective. They may be mounted on a wall or attached to a stand.
Computer monitors are available in a smaller range of sizes than TV screens. Most come with a built-in stand, making them most practical for placing on a flat surface.
A video wall is made up of multiple displays placed together, creating one image. Each display shows a specified portion of the image called a zone. The displays making up the video wall must be commercial displays, because they must have a very thin bezel – the plastic frame surrounding the screen – to minimize the gap between each screen. Additionally, consumer displays don’t have the ability to display zones. Not all digital signage solutions are compatible with or practical for video walls.
BONUS: Consumer vs. Commercial Displays
If you decide on TV screens, you’ll want to decide between commercial or consumer displays. Commercial displays are meant for longer-term, more continuous usage by businesses and other public-facing operations. Consumer displays are meant for home usage by consumers. Either will work for digital signage, but it’s important to know the differences between the two on certain factors. We’ve prepared a chart comparing what we believe are the differences most relevant to digital signage, without getting too technical.
|Brightness||Typically reach up to 300-350 nits||Can reach up to 1,000 nits|
|Operation||Not engineered to withstand long hours of operation, but may work fine in such a capacity anyway.||Engineered for more longevity of use. Can operate for long periods of time without overheating.|
|Aesthetics||Older ones may have a thicker bottom bezel (the plastic frame around the screen). If so, the display will look lopsided when placed in portrait orientation. Newer ones are very sleek and have a thin, even bezel on all sides.||Very sleek and minimalist design. Bezel is thin and even on all sides.|
|Cost||Depending on size and resolution, prices range anywhere from $100 to several thousand dollars each.||Up to 3x as much as consumer displays|
|Warranty||Only covers consumer usage||Longer and more extensive, covering commercial usage|
|Use Cases||Consumer home usage, or commercial operations with limited budgets||Commercial or public-facing operations with larger budgets|
Keep in mind that these are just differences, not necessarily pros and cons. What’s a “pro” and what’s a “con” depends on your needs and preferences.
Component #2: Digital Signage Player
A digital signage player is a device that connects to a digital display and delivers content to it. Think of it like a Blu-ray player or Roku box.
To better explain the ins and outs of digital signage players, let’s break it down by common questions about them.