It’s a vast industry; for each of the devices, pricing, functions, software/hardware spec all vary a lot. These are things I would take note of when inspecting a new product.
I would be glad to see others’ checklist and learn too.
- Weight and Dimension
- Processing performance: CPU/processor determines the content loading speed. It becomes important when the content is highly based on streaming, web feeds, or flash rather than just photos and videos.
- O/S: most common ones are Linux, Windows, and Android. They all have their strengths and weaknesses.
Windows is widely-used and powerful, but it could be expensive and hard to handle. Android, on the other hand, is competitive in pricing and is rising up over the past few years. Linux is stable and less likely to be mass attacked.
- Storage: HDD/SSD. There are plenty of comparisons on the Internet for the two. Simply put, HDD might cost less, but SSD has higher performance and has become more affordable now.
- Video output ports: HDMI, VGA, or DP. Check if that goes with your screen, or if you need a converter. Some player supports multiple outputs, and if you have more than one display, you might find them more cost-effective.
- Network connectivity: if it can be connected to Ethernet, wifi, or 3G/4G network.
Content Management Software
You could choose to host your system or acquire a cloud solution. Hosting your system is definitely more cost-effective and gives you more control. It is also safer as all files and data are managed through your own network and device. But IT people need to learn and get accustomed to the system.
The service of cloud system providers differs. Some just offer a platform, and some managers and even design the contents for their clients. IT won’t have to learn and maintain the system, and instead, you pay a service charge each month for the system provider.
Also note that, if all data are stored in the cloud, issues will occur when the connection fails.
Now, get to my checklist for Content Management System.
- Update contents and manage them in files
- Play the contents updated smoothly
- Daily/weekly/monthly/annual schedule
- Playlist creation and management
Remote management and easy update procedure save a lot of time and effort. Send the information at the right time also boost the effectiveness of the advertisement. Cayin has a nicely-written article for this.
For now, I was just exploring the basics. Some advanced functions could be:
- Template design/target content on specific zones
- Interactivity (with touch screen/mobile phone/face detection/etc)
- Automatic content change based on location (this is rather an for transportation application)
- Retrieve and integrate external data (RSS feeds, HTML, web page, social media, weather forecast, live stream, etc)
These are things I could think of for standalone operation. Of course, if you’re working on a large-scale project, you might need those functions for your CMS as well:
- Managing role access control: for example, accounts under group A can only access-group A’s folder and digital signage content. Manager of groups A, B, C can get access to three groups of folders and content.
- Content synchronization: for example, let screen A and C play the same content, and screen B and D play another playlist.
- Back-up system to prevent the accident from the main system
- Fail-over report and email alert notification if there’s an accident on the display system
- Connection check dashboard
- Proof-of-play record and report
That’s pretty much what I would like to share! You may integrate the media player hardware and the software on your own, or purchase simply a bundled one to avoid compatibility issues.
Thanks for reading! Good luck with your business and project.