Digital signage is an effective marketing tool for any business looking for ways to increase its campaign or brand visibility to the public. As more business owners are starting to see the value of digital signage, the adoption of digital signage solutions is also on a steady rise, with 60% of enterprises without digital signage in their stores planning to invest in this technology within the next two years.
However, the first step to planning your digital signage deployment is to develop an understanding of how it works and what it has to offer. Hardware is one of the most important components in a digital signage system, which consists of a digital signage media player and a digital signage display. Working together, the display and media player deliver your content in a dynamic and engaging way that can attract more eyes.
Hence, if you do not pick the right digital signage hardware, your business might risk losing the unique opportunities to captivate your audience and achieve improved campaign results.
Although there are countless options for digital signage display in the market, this guide will cover some important aspects that will help you identify the right digital signage display solution for your business needs.
What Is Digital Signage?
Digital signage is a digital installation, screen, or monitor that displays informational content in text, images, video, and other multimedia formats for advertising purposes. It is a subcategory of electronic signage that uses technologies such as LCD, LED, and projections to digitally display multimedia content.
Components of Digital Signage System
A digital signage system consists of three main components: hardware, software, and content. The hardware component simply refers to the digital signage player and digital signage display that work together to deliver content on screens, such as restaurant menus or advertisements.
The digital signage player receives your digital content from your digital signage software’s cloud-based platform and then pushes the processed content to your digital signage display when connected. Depending on the features and capability of your digital signage software, you can create a wide range of multimedia content, including images, videos, and animations, to entice your audience.
Different Types of Digital Signage Displays and Their Best-Fitted Scenarios
As stated earlier, there are diverse digital signage displays from which to choose. However, the selected digital signage display depends on several factors, such as the user’s goals and preferences. Here are the typical digital signage displays with their best-fitted scenarios.
Tablets are a great digital signage display option for providing one-on-one interactions. The touchscreen feature allows users to get closer to the information or perform self-service, such as ordering food at a restaurant, checking in at a hotel, and signing up for a brand’s email subscription at a trade show booth.
Tablets have a considerable bright screen and powerful processors that can run various applications effectively. They are portable and lightweight, making them easy to carry or reposition. They are also easy to set up and do not require an additional digital signage player because it is built in.
However, tablets are not built for high-volume or commercial use. If being used extensively, you may need to replace them more frequently. In public environments where traffic is high, you will need to secure them with enclosures to prevent people from tampering with your display settings or taking them away.
Another common type of digital signage display is monitors. Monitors are generally smaller in screen sizes, ranging from 17 to 32 inches, which makes them a budget-friendly choice for those who are looking for the most basic digital signage features. They are also more suitable for smaller environments due to their limited viewing distance and angle.
If you are looking for a screen that is larger than 32 inches, a TV is recommended. Most monitors come with a built-in stand so they can be easily placed on a flat surface.
3. Non-smart TVs (Or Dumb TVs)
TV screens are one of the most used digital display choices. They are usually available in several sizes, resolutions, and brands. They are also easy to set up and can be cost effective in specific configurations. TV screens can be attached to a stand or mounted on a wall for digital signage.
TV screens can be smart or non-smart. Non-smart TVs are often referred to as the larger version of monitors. They are TV screens that lack Internet-connected features. They also do not have any built-in apps. However, they are relatively cost effective. On average, the small-sized non-smart TVs of around 32 to 40 inches cost around $200.
The larger ones that are up to 70 inches cost around $1,000, although you can get pretty good ones for $500 to $600. When a digital signage player is connected to a non-smart TV, it can transform the TV into a digital signage display that functions just like a smart TV.
4. Smart TVs
Smart TVs are TV screens that have Internet-connected features, processors, and built-in apps. They are an excellent all-in-one solution for those who do not want to buy an additional digital signage player, or simply do not have the space for storing one. Smart TVs are typically more expensive compared to non-smart TVs. The average cost of a smart TV ranges from $600 to $2,000.
When getting a smart TV, you need to check the specifications and performance because some of them might be running on older versions of operating systems. Smart TVs depend on their platform provider for app and operating system updates. If you are planning to buy a smart TV that is not the newest model, you might want to check if this TV is still able to receive updates so you can avoid getting an outdated device.
5. Commercial-grade Displays: The Professional Displays Made for Digital Signage Use
Commercial-grade displays are digital signage hardware specially designed for commercial or public digital signage use. They can operate for longer display times, from more than eight hours a day to even 24 hours a day. Commercial-grade displays have a higher up-front cost, but they are also more robust and can meet all your signage needs. They have an average lifespan between 70,000 to 100,000 hours if running continuously, compared to consumer-grade TVs that generally have 50,000 hours.
Commercial-grade displays have the strong processing power and high brightness levels that could get to 2,000 nits, unlike consumer TVs that get only 350 nits. Nits are a unit of measurement that describes how bright a TV, monitor, or another type of screen display is. The higher the number of nits are, the brighter the display is.
On average, commercial-grade displays usually come with a three-year on-site warranty, while consumer TVs offer a 12-month warranty only. They can be placed in portrait or landscape orientations to allow better viewing angles.
Understanding the Difference Between LED vs. LCD
Light-emitting diodes (LEDs) and liquid crystal displays (LCDs) are the main hardware technologies used for digital displays and video walls. Over the years, the market for display screens has accelerated due to high demand and development in the industry. This has resulted in buyers getting more display screen options at comparatively lower costs.
Today, you can choose from a wide range of LED and LCD products. However, these products differ in size, brightness, durability, resolution, etc. This is crucial in choosing the type of hardware technology you need. In addition, the kind of hardware technology you need depends on how you use your digital signage.
Therefore, it is essential to understand the benefits and limitations of these display technologies before choosing one. A comprehensive analysis of these hardware technologies regarding brightness, durability, size, and resolution will give you an idea of if you want LEDs or LCDs.
Regarding brightness, LEDs are a much better option than LCDs are. LEDs have high brightness ranges from 800 to 8,500 nits, compared to LCDs with brightness ranging from 300 to 700 nits. They also have a higher tolerance for ambient light. LED screens can display an image with a high contrast level even under direct sunlight, which makes it easier for people to read, while LCD screens are more suitable for indoor use
LCD Displays are usually lightweight and come in various set sizes set by the manufacturer. Although they are not easy to customize, some manufacturers have stretch sizes. Most LCD options are usually at a 16×9 aspect ratio. They commonly range between 10 inches to 95 inches.
Conversely, LED screens have almost no size restrictions, so in general, they are more customizable compared to LCDs.
Typically, LCDs have a higher resolution than LEDs do. They allow viewers to see the screen at a closer distance without viewing the pixels. However, LEDs are better for viewing images from much longer distances.
LED screens are more rugged and durable than LCDs are. They are also usually weatherproof, making them a better option for outdoor display. Conversely, LCDs have a lifespan of about 50,000 hours, which is only half the lifespan of LEDs.
Consumer-grade Displays Vs. Commercial-grade Displays: Which One Should You Get?
The digital signage display you choose depends on your business needs. You can either get a commercial or consumer digital signage display. The consumer-grade displays are the standard TVs built mainly for streaming or viewing purposes. In contrast, commercial-grade displays are built specifically for digital signage needs.
However, to choose the best option that suits your business, you must consider certain factors. Here are a few questions to consider when choosing a digital signage display.
What Is the Installation Environment?
The environment in which you will be installing your digital signage is an important factor in choosing the right display. If you are planning to install it outdoor, then commercial-grade displays are your best option because they have higher brightness levels and therefore can remain highly visible even under direct sunlight. They also have built-in fans and vents that allow them to withstand adverse weather conditions such as excessive heat.
Furthermore, because there are no control panels and buttons on commercial-grade displays, this prevents the public from accessing your display settings. Commercial-grade displays are widely used in public environments with high traffic, such as shopping malls, hospitals, supermarkets, and airports.
Consumer-grade displays are more commonly used in private or small indoor spaces. Because they can be easily damaged when exposed to weather elements or hit by objects, immediate control and supervision of staff can help minimize these issues. The consumer displays are ideal for places such as schools, offices, homes, optometry, and dental clinics where the traffic is more manageable and does not require the screens to operate for long hours daily.
What Is the Physical Scale of Your Digital Signage Project?
Your business goals and objectives will determine the number of screens you need. If you are deploying a video wall project that involves multiple screens, commercial-grade displays are again a better option. They come with little to no bezel, which is the border surrounding the screen, and are free of the manufacturer’s branding so they can create a seamless alignment with a streamlined viewing experience. Other factors that determine the type of screen you need depend on your content and budget.
How Long Will the Displays Be Operating Each Day?
Commercial-grade displays are designed to operate for a longer duration than consumer displays are. On average, the commercial-grade displays can operate for eight to 24 hours per day, and you do not need to worry about the image quality degrading over time. Conversely, consumer-grade displays are not designed to run for more than eight hours a day. If you use a consumer TV for commercial digital signage usage, you will see issues such as edge burn-in and color distortion after a few months.
What Is My Budget?
The price of consumer and commercial-grade displays differ significantly. However, the maintenance costs and lifespan also contribute to the budget. For instance, the initial acquisition costs for consumer displays are less compared to commercial-grade displays. However, consumer displays may cost more in the long term because they are less durable, requiring replacement every two to three years.
In contrast, commercial-grade displays can last up to five years. In addition, your budget for a customer display or commercial-grade display screen depends on factors such as reliability, connectivity, design, warranty, and support.
Choosing the right digital signage hardware that meets your business needs can be overwhelming. However, understanding your business needs and goals can help you choose the best digital signage hardware option. If you are interested in learning more about your options, book a free consultation with our digital signage experts today!