Digital Signage: USB vs Computer vs Media Player

So, you have finally seen the light of digital signage. The old paper print advertisement and display is something of the distant past and the age of digital advertising has come. Nowadays, you shouldn’t be asking if you should employ digital signage, but rather what method.

Lasting impressions is the key metric for any type of display and when it comes to digital signage, they remember so much better. In fact, the recall rate is a high as 83%. Not only do they recall info better, but they also behave differently.

68% of people say that digital signage influenced their shopping decisions. Seeing that there are so many options to choose from, we have put together this guide to help you in making the best choice for your product.


This is probably one of the better-known methods and simply involves putting your advertising material on a USB drive and playing the material over one of your displays. Here are the pros and cons of using this method:


  • It is popular because it is one of the easiest ways to setup digital signage
  • It is the cheapest method


  • Complicated updates – It’s not as easy as updating a file. You physically have to open up the back panel of your display to get to the USB and then update the file. Once it’s updated, you still need to test if the new file actually words.
  • Scalability – When you operate more than one location or even one screen, the cost-effectiveness disappears. Now you multiply the difficulty and time of updating content across all your screens.
  • Lack of features – There are only so many things that you can display. It’s a static setup which means no social media integration, weather info, day parting or live TV.
  • Glitchy loops – When you design loop videos, there will always be a slight pause or a black screen when the video plays from the start again.
  • Not the Right Tool – Although USB display systems do the trick, they were never made to play videos on loop or run any type of digital signage. Therefore, the hardware is prone to overheating or malfunction. This means regular maintenance and, in some cases, replacement devices.


This is a major step up from USB displays in that you aren’t limited to just a video or image file, you have the full functionality of a computer to do your signage bidding. All you need to do now is run your content via an HDMI cable to a display monitor and you are set.


  • Whatever the USB signage model lacked, you gain with a computer setup.
  • The computer could serve as a dual-purpose machine if it is powerful enough. It can run your display as well as other programs that you might need.
  • Updates are much less complicated and can be shared over multiple locations via an internet connection.


  • Bulky – Computers take up an awkward amount of space and even if you use a laptop, you will still need an area that you can dedicate to stationing your setup.
  • Cost Overkill – Computers are much too powerful to waste on signage alone and it seems like a bit of a waste to fork out so much cash for a machine that is being underutilized. This solution is often the costliest of the three.
  • Wire Maze – You will always be stuck with at least two cables, a power cable and an HDMI/DVI cable. Both of which look unsightly if you don’t make an effort to hide them.
  • Not Made for This – Computers weren’t made to run displays or digital menu boards the whole day. Regardless of their processing power, they could also fail just like USB displays and they cost more to replace.

Digital Signage Media Player

Although the previous two options are viable tools for digital signage, they were never made exclusively for this kind of function. In steps the ultimate champion.

These machines are dedicated and purpose-built for digital signage and considered the best solution for digital signage. Take the Nano-PC3 for example, it is small, compact and capable of delivering 4K resolution displays.


  • Feature-rich – If you can think it, this media player can do it. It has all the digital signage features that a PC offers, but takes up next to no space.
  • Size matters – These players are small and compact and plug into the side of your display. It doesn’t even need a power cable seeing that it can be powered from the display’s USB port directly.
  • Designed for Long Hours – These players are designed to play for long hours on end and in various temperatures, so your chance of it bombing out on you is slim.


  • Moderate Price – These are dedicated players with unique technologies; therefore you are going to spend more than you would on USBs, but most are cheaper than computers.

You can learn more about NexSigns’ Digital Signage solution and connect with us on FacebookLinkedInTwitter, and YouTube to get the latest info on digital signage!

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