Confused About Digital Media Players? Here’s What You Need to Know

digital media player

The age of dull and uninspiring signage is over. Today, digital signage is the most effective way to capture people’s attention and engage with customers. A digital signage system requires different hardware and software to function properly.

Digital media players are vital components of the digital signage ecosystem, but the available options can be confusing. Discover more information about these devices below.

What Is a Digital Media Player?

A media player is a processor or small computer that pushes content on screens. Essentially, media players power every display in retail stores, airports, malls, and other public spaces.

However, the device requires a content management system (CMS) to control what is shown on the display. The CMS is the platform that lets you schedule and update content. Ideally, the media player and CMS communicate with each other to show RSS and Instagram feeds, text tickers, YouTube, social media widgets, weather information, and other content.

Traditionally, desktop computers served as digital media players. But, the bulky nature of desktops made them impractical for many digital signage uses. To illustrate, technicians couldn’t install the desktops in overhead locations due to weight concerns. Consequently, digital signage manufacturers fashioned compact but powerful devices that technicians could attach or embed into digital displays.

Why Do I Require a Digital Signage Player?

A computer is adequate for a one-time party or event digital signage application. However, a media player is necessary to display commercial digital signage content to viewers. Fortunately, the costs of digital signage media players have significantly come down.

Furthermore, a media player is necessary to run content like videos, images, and GIFs on multiple displays. The player distributes the playlist on your CMS to one or more screens to keep your content fresh.

Types of Digital Signage Players

Currently, the digital signage market has limitless player options, depending on the applications. The common types of digital signage players include the following.

  • Window or Linux-Based Players

Windows or Linux-driven media players offer a powerful platform for complex enterprise applications, such as digital kiosks or video walls. Additionally, PCs offer unparalleled familiarity as most people use operating systems like windows and Ubuntu every day.

Most digital signage software companies also support Windows. What’s more, you can seamlessly switch between platforms as PC-powered systems don’t lock content managers into a particular platform. But, the cost and complexity of these players can be prohibitive.

  • Android Players

Android players suit simple content demands and offer most of the functionality of PCs at affordable costs. Google’s Android OS powers these players to deliver digital signage content to customers. However, beware of cheap brands that sell unreliable players running on old versions of Android.

  • Chrome Media Players

Chrome media players run on Google’s Chrome OS and offer great functionality. For example, the player supports HTML5 media, which powers responsive sizing, animation, and other sophisticated features. Also, Chrome OS has a “single app kiosk mode” that locks the OS menu and options away from the reach of unauthorized users.

  • System on a Chip

If you want a streamlined digital signage network, consider a system on a chip solution like Samsung’s Tizen display. It is a new technology where displays come with an inbuilt media player that delivers content. Although the system on the chip can process multi-zone content layouts, it can have limited liability to process multiple video playback. In contrast, an external player offers more capabilities via drivers and graphic cards.

  • Amazon Fire TV Stick

These devices plug into a screen’s HDMI input and are popular for streaming video at home. The Fire TV app store has multiple digital signage applications for low-budget networks.

Features to Look for in a Digital Media Player

Digital signage media players have varying capabilities, depending on the digital signage application. Some factors to consider include the following.

  • Internet Connectivity

Media players connected to the internet allow for remote control via web browsers or apps. Wi-Fi, Ethernet, and cellular are your options, where Ethernet is the most reliable method. Generally, Ethernet is impractical for many solutions, but a Wi-Fi connection will suffice for most applications.

  • Processing Power

Look for a powerful processor in a media player that will power video walls, Live TV, digital menus, and HD content. A less powerful media player is enough for simple applications like static images and navigations.

  • Multi-Screen Capability

Another key feature of a good media player is multi-screen support. If you have a large installation like a video wall, consider a player that can create zones showing different types of content. Additionally, invest in a versatile player that supports both landscape and portrait modes.

  • Security

Ensure that the OS that powers the media player is secure to prevent cyber-attacks. Regular updates to the OS, strong passwords, and network firewalls are some ways to prevent malware. Also, the media player should not be physically accessible to discourage theft.

In Conclusion

Media players power your content, but you need the right device for your needs. Hopefully, the guide above sheds more light on the role of media players and the kind of solution you need.

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