Comparsion of USB, Media Player & Computer Digital Signage

The days of old paper print advertisements and display is gone. Industries are embracing the power of digital signage. When it comes to making a lasting impression, digital signage excels. Research shows an impressive recall rate of up to 83%. Not only do viewers remember information better, but they also exhibit different behaviors. In fact, 68% of individuals report that digital signage has influenced their shopping decisions.

USB vs. Computer vs. Digital Signage Media Player

With numerous options available, choosing the right digital signage solution can be daunting. The question remains: which digital signage option is best for your business?

Powering Digital Signage Using USB

USB is one of the better-known methods. It involves users loading their advertising material on a USB drive to play the content on the displays. Even though it is a simple option, it does have many limitations.


  • Easy to install: Setting up digital signage using USB is straightforward and requires minimal technical expertise. Users can simply connect the USB cable to the display device, eliminating the need for complex wiring or professional installation services.


  • Complicated Updates: Updating the content is not simple. You’ll need to physically access the USB port by opening the back panel of your display. After updating the files, you’ll have to repeat this process to test and confirm that everything is functioning correctly.
  • 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.

Powering Digital Signage Using Computers

This represents a significant advancement from USB displays, as you’re not restricted to video or image files; you have the full capabilities of a computer at your disposal for your signage needs. Simply connect your content to a display monitor via an HDMI cable, and you’re good to go.


  • Better than USB: Whatever the USB signage model lacked, you gain with a computer setup.
  • Dual Purpose: 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.
  • Ease of Update: Updates are much less complicated and can be shared over multiple locations via an internet connection.
  • Easy to Install: Setting up digital signage using USB is straightforward and requires minimal technical expertise. Users can simply connect the USB cable to the display device, eliminating the need for complex wiring or professional installation services.


  • 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.

Using Digital Signage Media Player to Power

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


  • All-In-One: have the benefits of USB and Computer
  • Feature-Rich: Combined with the right digital signage solution, digital signage media players can execute different digital sigange features to make it easy for users to manage their digital signage.
  • Size Matter: 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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