These are the public facing components that you relying on to clearly communicate your message to your target audience. Whether that messaging includes a restaurant menu, a promotion for a new product, the latest interest rates, changes to company benefits or important health related information, the combination of media player and display is absolutely critical.
We offer commercial grade displays and media players, designed specifically for use in a digital signage network, however, many times we get asked if consumer grade equipment can be used, meaning displays and computers that can be bought at the local electronics store. With so much riding on the media player and display, we strongly discourage the use of consumer grade equipment.
It’s important to understand that consumer grade equipment is only designed to be used a few hours a day at home not for the prolonged use in a commercial environment. In fact, many warranties will be void or drastically reduced if they are used in a commercial environment and there are many valid reasons for this.
When it comes to consumer grade displays, because they are designed for home use, the build quality does not need to be very high and the components do not need to be robust so they can be easily damaged when used in a commercial setting. Also, these displays don’t need to be very bright so when they are placed in brightly lit areas they will look washed out and lose any visual impact. Burn-in is another concern. Images can get permanently etched into a screen creating a ghosting effect that will always appear no matter what is being displayed. It is most noticeable with lighter content and cannot be fixed. If this occurs, the screen will have to be replaced. A few other issues are that they cannot be mounted in portrait orientation, there are no touch options for interactivity and the bezels (the frame surrounding the screen) tend to be thicker, uneven and usually the manufacturers logo is highly visible.
Commercial displays are designed for 24/7, 365 days a year use and come with a 3-year warranty. They are robust and can be mounted in any orientation. Bezels are thin and without any adornment to distract from the professional, clean look. They come in a variety of brightness’s so they will be clearly visible in any lighting including full sunlight. Most models have a touch option so they can be used for interactive content like digital catalogues or wayfinding.
For consumer media players, these computers are designed for general use using components that are not meant for 24/7 use. They usually come with a Home version of Windows installed, are configured for home use and as we all know, they come with a bunch of bloatware pre-installed. This means that out-of-the-box they are not as performant as they could be and definitely not as secure as they need to be. Mounting options are generally limited because most consumer computers don’t need to be mounted to a large display like they are for digital signage. This makes it difficult to create a clean install and makes the media players tricky to service.
Commercial media players have none of these issues. They are designed using solid state components that have a high MTBF rating (Mean Time Between Failure) and are ‘Hardened’ specifically for digital signage. Hardening is the process of reducing as many security risks as possible by stripping the OS of all non-essential software and features and locking down system settings while allowing the primary function of the computer to operate. This process is critical and takes an experienced technician to get it right. Professional looking installation and serviceability is made easier with a built-in VESA mount.
Using consumer grade equipment can appear to be an attractive option but when you take a closer look at the details, it’s a very risky one. We hope that the information presented here will help you make a more informed decision when it comes time to select the displays and media players for your new digital signage project. The goal of any digital signage network is to enable communication so you can effectively engage, educate and empower your audience in a professional looking and impactful way.
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