Choosing the Right Digital Signage Player

cover image showing a media player and a screen
cover image showing a media player and a screen

A digital signage player, or media player, is a compact computer device designed to play your digital signage content when connected to a TV screen or monitor. It is a component of digital signage hardware, which plays a crucial role in a digital signage system as it gives digital signage computing power. Without a digital signage player, you won’t be able to display your digital content on your screen.

How Does a Digital Signage Player Work?

A digital signage player works by connecting to a digital display or TV monitor through an HDMI port. It may also connect through other cables, depending on what your TV monitor or media player supports. Once connected to your screen, the media player receives and downloads your digital content from your cloud-based digital signage software server, also known as a content management system (CMS), and then renders the content on your screen. 

Although digital signage software is built-in, a digital signage media player is after all, not the software itself and needs to work in conjunction with the cloud-based content management system to power your signage. By working together, they ensure your digital signage network runs seamlessly. With a CMS, you can create your own content, manage your digital signage networks, and troubleshoot any issues that arise.

diagram showing how a digital signage player works in relation with CMS and digital display

What Kind of Content Can I Play on My Digital Signage?

When setting up your digital signage network, you should always check if your CMS supports the content you intend to display and whether the specs of your digital signage player can process and render the content seamlessly. 

Here are some common types of content you can project on a digital signage display:

  • Images
  • Texts
  • Videos
  • Animations
  • Slideshows
  • Weather Forecasts
  • Social Media 
  • Webpages
  • News
  • RSS Feeds

What Kind of Digital Signage Player Do I Need?

The type of digital signage player you need depends on your digital signage software and the type of business you run. This is because the compatibility of your digital signage software and media player determines the performance of your network.

In addition, as a business owner, you should try to avoid unnecessary expenditures when buying a media player on your own. The media player you require depends on the features and capabilities you need. If you are looking only to display basic content such as images and texts, getting an entry-level device will be a more cost-effective solution.

 

Therefore, make sure you consider your business objectives and other necessary factors when buying a digital signage player. However, it is also highly recommended that you consult a credible digital signage software provider to assess your digital signage needs.

Factors to Consider When Purchasing a Digital Signage Player

There are several factors to consider when buying a digital signage player. As stated above, your digital signage software and the type of business you run are significant factors. The cost of using the media player is another factor to consider. 

The following are other factors to consider:

  • Installation
  • Compatibility 
  • Storage Capacity
  • Processing Power

Installation

When setting up a digital signage player, the primary goal usually is to hide it from public view for aesthetic purposes or theft prevention. Many simple digital signage players nowadays come in the shape similar to a USB flash drive, are lightweight, and have plug-and-play capabilities. They can be easily plugged in behind your TV or digital display, which is a great option for those who are not tech-savvy and don’t require complex digital signage features.

 

If you want a higher-end device with a stronger processor, it will usually be bigger and might require wall mounting behind your screen.

Compatibility

Not all digital signage media players and CMSs are compatible, so you should carefully evaluate your choice of media player before buying. Since the features of your CMS will determine the type of digital content you can create, it’s highly recommended that you purchase a digital signage player after choosing your CMS.

 

High compatibility between your software and hardware can help save you time and maximize the value of your digital signage network. Therefore, it is important to ensure your digital signage player does not restrict you from all the great features your CMS offers.

 

For instance, our digital signage player, Nano-PC 3, and digital signage software, NexSigns, are specifically designed and built for each other to deliver a seamless and cohesive digital signage experience. Together, they provide you with optimum system performance for your digital signs.

concept image of digital signage player and CMS compatibility

Storage Capacity

You will also want to consider the internal storage capacity when purchasing a digital signage player. This is an important factor that determines how much content your digital signage player can store in its local cache. It also ensures your screens can be up and running even when your internet connection is down.

 

Entry-level devices tend to have less storage capacity, which is enough to cache content with a lighter load and playback with ease. Higher-end, commercial-grade media players, on the other hand, have a decent amount of storage for caching and displaying more demanding content, such as 4K videos and livestreams.

Processing Power

What really differentiates the cost of high-end and budget-friendly digital signage players is, in fact, the processing power. Digital signage players with high processing power allow you to display HD videos and livestreaming and perform more complex tasks like screen zoning and incorporating interactive content. Some can even support a multiscreen configuration, rendering content to more than one screen at a time.

 

If your business wants to deploy a video wall, you should consider investing in a higher-end media player for the best performance possible. With higher levels of processing power, your digital content can also be compressed and transferred more efficiently to your screen without compromising the image quality.

Digital Signage Player FAQ

What is the Best Operating System for Digital Signage Player?

There are many different options of operating systems available in the market. Some of the more popular ones that are consistently deployed for digital signage uses are Chrome, Android, and Windows PCs. However, this does not mean that these popular options will suit your specific needs since every system has its advantages and disadvantages. It is recommended that you do your research and have a clear understanding of your business goals when choosing a digital signage operating system.

What Are SoC Digital Displays?

System-on-chip digital displays, generally referred to as SoC digital displays, are displays with built-in media players. This eliminates the need for purchasing an external digital signage media player and manually connecting it to your screen.

 

Although SoC digital displays might sound convenient, they have certain downsides. For example, you won’t be able to replace individual parts of the device due to its highly integrated design. If the system is damaged, you most likely will need to replace the entire SoC unit, which means spending more money.

 

High compatibility between your software and hardware can help you save time and maximize the value of your digital signage network. Therefore, it is important to ensure your digital signage player does not restrict you from all the great features your CMS offers.

 

For instance, our digital signage player, Nano-PC 3, and digital signage software, NexSigns, are specifically designed and built for each other to deliver a seamless and cohesive digital signage experience. Together, they provide you with optimum system performance for your digital signs.

How Much Does a Digital Signage Player Cost?

Many digital signage player options are available in the market, and their prices vary depending on their performance. If you are only looking for an entry-level device to cover your basic digital signage needs, you can get one that costs as low as around $50.

 

However, if you are seeking a more business-ready media player to up your game, there are many great options between $200 and $500. Devices in this range come with more advanced features and storage space than the budget ones and can support HD video streaming. They have a great balance between budget and performance, which makes them a popular choice for any type of business need.

 

The cost of high-end digital signage players can go up to about $1,000. These devices have powerful processors and can handle any high-intensity digital signage content with ease. They can support multiple display outputs, which makes them a perfect option for video wall implementation. Since digital signage players in the lower and mid-range categories support only single-screen output, it’s important that you take into account the total number of screens you plan to deploy when planning your  budget.

concept image illustrating the balance between digital signage player performance and cost

Does a Digital Signage Player Require an Internet Connection to Function? What Happens When the Internet Goes Down?

In general, a digital signage player requires internet access to function properly. However, if the device has enough storage to cache the content locally, your digital displays can still be up and running without interruptions.

 

For example, our digital signage player, Nano-PC 3, can download the content from our cloud-based digital signage software, NexSigns, and store it in its local drive for up to two weeks. This enables your screens to continue working during your business’s operating time while giving you enough time to fix your internet connection problems.

Conclusion

The digital signage player is an essential part of a digital signage system. There are many factors you need to take into consideration when looking for the best device for your business. If you are interested in learning more about these devices or getting advice on your digital signage software solutions deployment, book a free consultation with our digital signage experts today!

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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