The Ultimate Guide To Digital Signage Media Player

This is the complete guide to Digital Signage Media Player.

It is also known as Digital Signage Player.

We will cover the most important things that a digital signage user should know about the digital signage media player.

We will look at the definition, types, operating systems, and software capability of digital signage media players.

If you are looking to use digital signages in your business, it is very important for you to understand the digital signage media player.

Digital Signage Media Player

This is the complete guide to Digital Signage Media Player.

It is also known as Digital Signage Player.

We will cover the most important things that a digital signage user should know about the digital signage media player.

We will look at the definition, types, operating systems, and software capability of digital signage media players.

If you are looking to use digital signages in your business, it is very important for you to understand the digital signage media player.

Digital Signage Media Player
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Content

Chapter 1

Introduction To Digital Signage Media Player

According to MarketsandMarkets, the global digital signage market is projected to hit USD 27.8 billion by 2026. It is estimated to grow at a CAGR of 11.2% from 2021 to 2026.

The increasing adoption of digital signage in business applications is one of the main drivers.

In this chapter, we will explain what a digital signage media player is. Let’s dive in.

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What Is A Digital Signage?

Digital signage is an electronic display that is used to display content, information, and messages. It is widely used for applications such as advertising, promotions, wayfinding, exhibitions, and information sharing.

Digital signage displays content via its digital screen. It can be an LCD or LED screen.

Some businesses use TVs in their applications. While TV can contribute to brand communication on a short-term basis, we do not recommend using a TV in any commercial application as it is not engineered to run rigorous tasks. Most TVs are designed for entertainment purposes.

Digital Signage Product Malaysia

What Is A Digital Signage Media Player?

To deploy an effective digital signage operation, you need more than digital signage. While digital signage serves as a display screen, a digital signage media player is used to render and deliver digital content to the digital signage.

Digital signage media player is very crucial if you want to display your content on multiple screens. Besides, the media player also decides the formats of digital content that the digital signage can display.

In short, a digital signage media player is a device that connects the digital signage and the digital signage content management system (CMS). A digital signage CMS is a platform where you can upload, edit and manage your digital content. Without the media player, the digital signage can never play or display the stored digital content.

How Digital Signage Works

Chapter 2

Types of Digital Signage Media Players

There are many types of digital signage media players in the market. Each type of media player has its advantages and disadvantages.

In this chapter, we will look at the seven most common types of digital signage media players. They are Android player, Chrome OS device, Windows-based player, Linux-based player, Raspberry Pi, Personal Computer (PC), and System On A Chip (SOC).

Here’s what you need to know.

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Android Player

Android player is a digital signage media player that runs on Google’s Android operating system. It is a very popular choice due to its reliability and low cost.

Android player is a compact and small device. It requires only a very easy plug-and-play approach. The licensing fee is free too. It is suitable for any small business with a smaller digital signage network.

However, since Android is a free open-source operating system, anyone with basic knowledge of media player can design and manufacture a functional digital signage media player. As a result, there are many mediocre brands and products in the market.

Android players with bad reputations are not always equipped with the latest Android version. Using an outdated media player can lead to severe security threats.

Android

Chrome OS Device

There are many media players that run on Google’s Chrome OS in the market. Some of the examples are Chromebox, Chromebit, and Chromebase.

Chrome media players are preferred by many businesses due to their reasonable price and security. While high-end media players can be very expensive, there are many affordable Chrome media players that are suitable for most basic digital signage solutions.

In addition, Chrome media players are equipped with virus and malware protection. They are highly secured and can prevent hackers from taking over the digital signage campaign.

Another great benefit of using a Chrome media player is that it can support HTML5. HTML5 native support enables the digital signage to display interactive content with responsive design.

Windows-based Player

Windows-based media player is always the favourite choice for large enterprises and advertising agencies. The player is powerful enough to deal with most digital signage solutions, from a small network with less than 10 digital signages to a large network with multiple large-format video walls.

The biggest advantage of using a windows-based media player is that it is running on the Windows operating system, which is one of the most used operating systems in the world.

Many people are familiar with using Windows operating system. This can help businesses to save costs involved in staff training. Maintenance and troubleshooting are easier too for the IT department.

In addition, using a familiar technology can help businesses to reduce the difficulty in dealing with workflow, software compatibility, and digital integration.  

Lastly, the powerful windows-based player is a must-have digital signage media player if you plan to display interactive touchscreen content.

Windows based device

Linux-based Player

Linux-based player is powerful yet affordable. The biggest advantage of a Linux-based player is its Linux operating system. It is an attractive operating system because it is a free and open-source system.

Unlike media players that run on other operating systems which might require high maintenance and license fee, using a Linux-based media player can help businesses to save operating costs.

Besides, there is various digital signage software in the market that can run on Linux. This makes the Linux-based media player a favourite choice among businesses.  

Raspberry Pi

Raspberry Pi digital signage media player is a new entrant in the market. It has a smaller user base compared to other media players. However, it is still a great choice for businesses that would like to go for a flexible and do-it-yourself (DIY) approach. It is also a good option for businesses with a limited budget.

Raspberry Pi digital signage media player is a combined product of the Raspberry Pi small computer and other hardware components. It can be built from scratch, and it supports customization.

Raspberry PI 4

Raspberry Pi 4.

Depending on your skill and need, you can build and customize a media player that can suit your unique requirement. This can help you to save unnecessary costs in buying additional features that do not bring any benefit to your business.

Besides, Raspberry Pi media player is a very small device. You can mount it on your digital signage or hide it somewhere within the installation easily.

However, customizing and scaling a Raspberry Pi digital signage system can be very complicated if you do not have the relevant skill. Unlike most digital signage media players in the market, Raspberry Pi media player is not a ready-to-use product.

Raspberry PI 4 with Case

Raspberry Pi 4 with case.

Personal Computer

Yes, you hear us right. Although it is a rare application, some businesses use computers as digital signage media players.

Technically speaking, a computer is the most powerful digital signage media player you can get. Its processing power has no limit since a computer can be configured or updated in any way you prefer.

Personal Computer

Hence, the computer could be a very good choice if you plan to display 4K-resolution content on multiple multi-screen video walls, or if you own a very complex digital signage network.

The biggest disadvantage of using a computer is its size. We need to connect a digital signage media player to a digital signage. It is very hard to hide a computer next to a digital signage due to its large size.  

System On A Chip (SOC)

System On A Chip (SOC) is an integrated circuit that is installed within the digital signage. It is a built-in digital signage media player.

A built-in digital signage media player is a very convenient option for businesses. It helps to reduce the hassle of getting and configuring an external media player.

System On A Chip SOC

Besides, since SOC is essentially a component within the digital signage, it eliminates the need for wiring and internet connection (connecting the media player with digital signage). 

The greatest disadvantage of using a SOC is that it is less flexible in terms of hardware upgrades. Unlike other external media players which can upgrade their processors and graphic cards if needed, SOC is a non-upgradable integrated circuit with limited processing power and functionality. It might have issues when dealing with complex and high-resolution video playback.

Chapter 3

Sizes of Digital Signage Media Player

Digital signage media players come in different sizes.

Some media players are very small. Some are large. But how does the size of the digital signage media player affect the installation?

Let’s dive in.

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Is size an important factor?

There is only one concern that you need to pay attention to when choosing either a small or large digital signage media player – how easy it is to install and hide the media player.

Since it is necessary to connect the digital signage media player to a digital signage via a cable, it is important to place the media player as close as possible to the digital signage.

Most digital signage media players can come in very small sizes. Some media players are very compact and look like USB drives. Mounting a small media player is easy. However, there are some bulky and large high-end media players. These installations can get tricky as you do not want to display your large media players alongside the digital signages.

Small Digital Signage Media Players

Some examples of small digital signage media players are Raspberry Pi, Chromebit, ViewSonic NMP309-W Media Player, and NovoDS mini.

Most Android-based media players are usually quite small. Their lengths are normally not longer than 20cm. They often come in the shape of a USB stick or a small device box.

Since the size is smaller, most of these digital signage media players are lower-end players with limited processing power and features. They are usually equipped with a storage size of not more than 8GB.

However, as technology advances, there are some small media players in the market that have higher processing power and are capable of running a complex digital signage solution.

Large Digital Signage Media Players

Some examples of large digital signage media players are Samsung Signage Player Box, LG WP400 Signage Media Player, and PC.

Some digital signage media players can go as large as a laptop or a computer. These media players are usually equipped with powerful processors with more cores. They are commonly used in all kinds of digital signage applications.  

Since some media players are very large, additional structures or mounts need to be installed to place the players next to the digital signages.

Chapter 4

Software Compatibility

There are several important factors that one needs to consider when buying a digital signage media player.

Some of the factors are software compatibility, resolution capability, storage, multi-screen support, and security.

In this chapter, we will look at the software compatibility of digital signage media players.

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Why software compatibility is important?

There are many different manufacturers of digital signage and media player in the market. Different media players have different specifications that allow them to work with different digital signage software.

Both digital signage and signage media players are hardware. All media players need both operating systems and software to operate. 

Digital signage software or content management system is an important component. It provides a platform for users to upload, store, schedule, edit, and monitor their digital content.

Digital Signage Software CDMS

It is also important for users to understand that there are many media players in the market that only work with one or two specific software or operating system. It means your digital signage might not work if your media player does not support the software that you are using.  

While digital signage media player provides computing power to the digital signage, it also needs to be connected to a content management system via internet connection. Without both media players and digital signage software, the digital signage would not be able to display anything on the screen.

Digital Signage Software

There is a wide range of digital signage software in the market. From what we know at this point, there could be more than 40 digital signage software, and the number is still growing.

A great digital signage software should cover features such as content management, media playback, media scheduling, device management, and user management. 

Digital Signage Software Content Management

A content management system helps users to organize and create their digital content.

The media playback feature helps to decode various digital formats to enable smooth playback of digital content. Besides, digital content can be scheduled to play at a certain period automatically.

The device management feature helps to monitor the health status of all devices within the digital signage network. It can alert users if there is any faulty issue.

The user management feature allows businesses to assign different administrator roles with different permission levels to the staff.

Some examples of digital signage software are NoviSign, Broadsign, Scala, piSignage, MagicINFO, Intuiface, LG SuperSign, and Signway.

NoviSign

NoviSign is one of the big names in the digital signage software industry. Companies such as IKEA, Nike, and Disney have been using NoviSign software in their digital signage applications.

NoviSign is equipped with basic features such as content management, playlist, and customizable templates. It can even support third-party integrations such as RFID, barcode, and face recognition camera.

It is a versatile software that can support digital signage media players with operating systems such as Windows, Chrome OS, Android, and Samsung Tizen.

Broadsign

Broadsign has been providing digital signage solutions to medium and large businesses for years. The software provided is a cloud-based solution. The software also allows users to manage their digital signage campaigns using smartphones.

Some of the features offered are automated management workflow, enterprise API, content playback, and content customization.

Broadsign can support devices such as Linux, Android, Windows, Mac, iPhone, and web browsers.

Scala

Scala digital signage platform consists of Scala Content Manager, Scala Player, Scala Designer, and Scala Designer Cloud. Beside of the common features such as content management and media playback, Scala provides a web-based platform for users to design and produce digital content using available templates.

Scala supports Linux, OS X, and Windows.

piSignage

piSignage can support Intel NUC players and Chromebox. However, since the cloud-based digital signage software is powered by Raspberry Pi, it is one of the best software options if you are using Raspberry Pi digital signage media player.

By combining Raspberry Pi media player and piSignage, the user can get the best out of his media player. The player is accelerated, and its playback performance is greatly enhanced.

The software provides features such as ads scheduling, screen capture, and built-in layouts. The software is widely used in various applications, such as corporate communication, advertising, digital menu displays, and in-store promotion.

MagicINFO

MagicINFO is a powerful all-in-one digital signage software that is introduced by Samsung. It provides a wide range of features, such as content creation, device monitoring, user management, and data analysis.

The biggest talking point of MagicINFO is its enhanced security system. As an ISO-certified digital signage software, MagicINFO can do a marvellous job in keeping businesses safer. This makes the software the best choice for large enterprises and organizations.

MagicINFO is only available for Samsung’s digital signages and media players.

Digital Signage Product

Signway

Signway CDMS provides a cross-platform digital signage solution. The system is deployed on Linux or Windows platform. It can work with Android operating system too.

The software provides a drag-and-drop editor to edit content intuitively. Besides, the content can be scheduled to play on loop via the intelligent scheduling feature.

Signway Content Management System

LG SuperSign

LG SuperSign Software is developed by LG Electronics. It is designed to support LG digital signages that are running on webOS. LG Supersign offers a wide range of solutions to meet various business requirements, such as SuperSign CMS, SuperSign QSR, LG Connected Care, SuperSign Control, and SuperSign Media Editor.

SuperSign CMS is one of the most popular content management systems in the market. It helps users to distribute, edit and schedule content. It is a great software for complex and large-scale digital signage operations. Easy content creation & distribution is one of its biggest advantages.

Intuiface

If you are going for interactive digital content that requires the touch-screen feature, Intuiface is your best choice. Intuiface is a digital signage software that helps to create interactive experiences.

Intuiface is also an all-in-one solution. It covers features such as content creation, player, content management system, API, content deployment, and data analytics.

Intuiface supports platforms such as Windows, Brightsign, iOS, Chrome OS, Samsung Tizen, and Android.

Intuiface Interface

Intuiface. Image by https://www.intuiface.com/

Choosing The Right Media Player and Digital Signage Software

There are two simple solutions in helping you to find the right media player and digital signage software.

  1. Identify your preferred operating system. Choose a digital signage media player that runs on your preferred operating system. Then, pick a digital signage software that can work with your preferred operating system and digital signage media player.
  2. Identify your preferred operating system. Choose your preferred digital signage software that can run on the chosen operating system. Then, pick a digital signage media player that can support your preferred digital signage software and operating system.

 

No matter which solution you choose, you should always start with the selection of your preferred operating system. If you are not a technical geek, any operating system is sufficient to run a digital signage network. The only factors that you might need to consider are the licensing fee and your staff’s proficiency in the operating system.

As we have discussed above, there are different benefits of using digital signage media players that run on different operating systems such as Windows, Android, Linux, and Chrome OS.

Chapter 5

Processing Power, Multi-screen Support & Storage

The more expensive a digital signage media player, the more powerful its features are.

A high-end digital signage media player has higher processing power, larger memory, larger storage size, and can even support playback of high-resolution content.

While a lower-end media player is powerful enough to run most basic digital signage applications effectively, a higher-end media player is necessary if you are going to deploy a complex application.

Allow us to discuss more about the processing power, multi-screen support & storage.

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Processing Power and Resolution Capability

Displaying digital content is the main purpose of a digital signage. For any business, it is very important to ensure an efficient and smooth playback. The processing power of a digital signage media player plays a very important role here.

If you try to play video content with a resolution that is higher than what your media player can handle, it will result in heavy load times, which can ultimately lead to delayed or blank screens. Hence, it is important to identify the content’s resolutions that you are going to display first before buying any digital signage and media player.

Screen Resolution Guide

Video resolution refers to the number of pixels on the screen. Generally, the higher the video resolution, the higher the number of pixels. Thus, the video quality is better. However, at the same time, it requires more processing power to decode and display high-resolution content.

Some common resolutions used in digital signage applications are 1080p full HD, ultra HD or 4K, and 8K. Full HD resolution offers good enough video quality for most applications. Before you go for a higher resolution, ask yourself a few questions.

  1. Do you really need to display your content in 4K or 8K resolution?
  2. Does your budget allow you to go for higher-end equipment?

 

In addition, interactive content also requires more expensive hardware with higher processing power.

When we are discussing processing power, we are referring to the processor and the number of cores. There are choices of dual-core and quad-core. If you go for an Intel processor, you can even choose between Core i3 and Core i5.

The performance of a processor relies on its clock speed. Clock speed is measured in Gigahertz (GHz). The higher the clock speed, the faster the processor can render and handle your digital content.

Generally, Windows-based media players will need processors with higher processing power since most of them are used in heavier or complex applications.

Multi-screen Support

Most users think that a digital signage media player can only connect to a digital signage at one time. This is not correct. Some media players can support multi-screen configuration.

Multi-screen capability is the ability of a media player to display content to more than one screen at a time.

There are three common types of multi-screen scenarios:

  1. Synchronized or same content to different displays
  2. Different content to different displays
  3. Split-screen (split the same content and display over multiple screens)
Types of Multi-Screen

Multi-screen capability can be a very valuable asset for businesses that need to run complex or highly customized digital signage applications.

Multi-screen digital signages are commonly used in applications such as digital menu boards and video walls. Digital menu boards need to deliver huge information and one screen is never enough. On the other hand, video walls are made of multiple smaller screens to deliver large-format presentations.

Multiple displays use more power. The digital signage media player needs to have powerful processors (CPU) and graphics cards (GPU) since the workload is heavier.

Multi-screen Display

Storage

There are different methods to store and retrieve digital content within a digital signage network.

Users can choose to store digital content locally or in the Cloud.

When the digital content is stored locally, it will be stored within the media player. Different media players have different sizes of internal storage. Most media players have 8GB storage. Some higher-end media players can have storage sizes up to 500GB. A computer that is used as a media player can even have a storage size of up to 2TB.

Cloud Server

Another form of physical storage is the on-premise server. It is an on-site server that is managed by your own company. When you store content in your own server, you do not need to rely on the internal storage of the media player.

You only need to connect your media player to your server via Ethernet or internet connection. The media player will download and keep the cached content in its internal storage. It will then display the content whenever needed. For any player that does not keep the cached content, it can easily retrieve the content directly from the server.

On Premises Server

Most content management systems usually provide cloud storage services to their users. Users can store digital content in the Cloud (hosted servers). These servers are managed by the service providers. The greatest benefit of using Cloud storage is that it helps to save costs involved in purchasing and maintaining the servers. 

The storage size of the Cloud server depends on the service subscribed. Users can always upgrade to a larger storage size for a fee.

Some low-end media players which have limited internal storage sizes can support external storages such as memory cards, USB drives, and DVDs. Users can plug the storage devices into the media players to access and play their content.

Chapter 6

Content Formats

The file formats that you can display on a digital signage depend on the digital signage software and the media player you use.

While content management system decides the file formats that you can upload, the digital signage media player plays an important role in encoding, decoding, and rendering the digital content.

Let’s take a look at some of the supported file formats.

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Processing Digital Content

Digital content needs to be processed, decoded, and rendered before it can be displayed via the digital screen.

The amount of processing power needed to render the digital content depends on the format or container of the digital file. For example, it will take more effort to render an uncompressed video file format such as uncompressed MOV and AVI. On the other hand, it will take fewer resources to render a compressed image file such as JPEG and GIF.

Hence, it is important to choose the most suitable media player and digital signage software that can support the content that you want to display.

Digital Signage Display

Examples of Digital File Formats

Some common video formats are MP4, WMV, MOV, FLV, AVI, MKV, H.264, and H.265.

Some common audio formats are MP3, AAC, and WMA.

Some common image formats are JPG, GIF, and PNG.

Other content formats that can be supported include Live TV streaming, live weather information, real-time content, and social media content.

Digital Signage’s Real-time Content

Beside of dynamic and static digital content, digital signages nowadays can even display real-time content such as weather and traffic information.

Real-time content is always up-to-date. The information is live and new. Most importantly, the users do not need to update the content manually.

Some examples of real-time content are traffic information, arrival and departure information, weather information, news, and social media content.

Real-time content might look less attractive, but it is extremely informative. The arrival and departure signage at the airport delivers useful information to travellers. The up-to-date weather information helps travellers to plan their journeys.

Digital Signage Arrival Board

Chapter 7

Security

Businesses have been paying attention to the specifications, features, and benefits of digital signage.

But how about digital signage security?

In this chapter, we will discuss the importance of security in digital signage.

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Why Digital Signage Security is Important?

No matter how successful your digital signage campaign is, or how engaging your digital content is, all effort will go in vain if the security is breached.

Without security protection on your digital signage, hackers can exploit vulnerabilities in your digital signage, media player, and digital signage software. Hackers can hijack your digital signage system and threaten to display inappropriate content if their demands are not met.

And what is worse, hackers can access private and financial information in your network. A security breach can cause huge damage to your business.

Security

How To Secure Your Digital Signage Media Player

The server can be the most vulnerable component in the digital signage network. You need to work constantly with your IT staff in ensuring the security of your server. If you are storing in the Cloud, you need to study and choose the most suitable service provider that can offer the best protection.

While discussing the vulnerabilities of the server, software and operating system are beyond the scope of this article, we strongly encourage businesses to invest sufficient resources in avoiding potential security breaches in these components.

In this section, we would like to highlight how you can secure your digital signage media player.

Some of the important ways to secure the media player are

  1. Disable USB ports if not in use.
  2. Patching and updating firmware constantly.
  3. Installing a firewall on the media player.
  4. Keep digital signage media players away from public reach.
  5. Use stronger passwords.

A. Disable USB Ports

Most digital signage media players have USB ports. These USB ports can provide hackers access to the media player. Hackers can then install malicious applications or viruses.

Also, remember to turn off the Wi-Fi connection or Bluetooth on your media players if the players are not in use.

USB ports

B. Patching & Updating Firmware

A patched and up-to-date digital signage media player is equipped with the latest security protection.

Every newly-released firmware introduces fixes that solved security flaws found in the previous versions. If you fail to update your media player with the latest firmware, it can expose your business to a greater risk of a security breach.

C. Installing Firewall

A firewall can prevent your digital signage media player from any unwanted traffic or information that is coming through unknown sources.

D. Keep Away From Public Reach

When installing the digital signage and media player, they should be kept in enclosed cases or hidden behind the wall. Businesses should use whatever methods they can to keep their devices away from public reach.

E. Use Stronger Passwords

Exploiting weaknesses in user credentials such as login ID and password are easier than hacking a server. Users should always use stronger login passwords. Besides, it is the responsibility of the administrator to protect and keep the password confidential at all times.

Password Protection

Conclusion

Digital signage solutions can turn out to be far more complicated than people think. The solution consists of various components, such as digital signage, content management system, digital signage software, server, and media player.

Confusion may arise due to a wide range of digital signages and media players in the market. Which product to choose? How to use the media player?

In our opinion, businesses should not turn away from the great opportunities offered by digital signage due to complexity. As the technology advances, digital signage is estimated to have a very bright future.

Programmatic DOOH or programmatic digital-out-of-home can be one of the brightest transformations in the future. Digital signage advertising can be fully automated based on external data and pre-set conditions. Depending on the time, weather, and location, advertisers can display different messages with the best possible targeting, at the most relevant times.

We hope this guide can help you to understand more about the digital signage media player.

We have also written a complete guide to understanding digital signage.

Feel free to talk to us if you have any questions or comments.