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Choosing the Right Equipment for your Digital Signage Environment

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Talk to any business owner or key decision maker and they’ll tell you how important it is to reach and communicate with their customers effectively. If you speak with them about their marketing and advertising strategies, you’ll likely see a diverse set of techniques and blueprints for achieving their goals. Not all businesses are the same, so companies must take a customized approach that best suits their needs and the needs of their customers.  

In our Digital Signage Buying Guide, we discussed how a digital signage system could serve as a valuable and impactful tool for business owners and administrators who want to reach large audiences while having the ability to make changes on the fly. We also laid out the basic components that one may need to get their digital signage network up and running. Those components include a commercial or professional-grade monitor, internal or external media player, media creation and scheduling software, and perhaps the most important piece—the content that takes your idea from concept to reality. In this article, we’re going to take an in-depth look at digital signage setups and discuss which components a system should incorporate based on the business type and operating environment. If your system is implemented correctly, your digital signage network will allow you to communicate your establishment’s messaging to a vast number of customers at the same time, even across multiple locations or across the globe.

Restaurants and Bars

Whenever someone asks me to explain what digital signage is and how it works, I almost always end up talking about restaurants and bars. It’s not just because I love food—I do—it’s because these environments showcase the diversity and flexibility of digital signage installation and messaging perfectly. Think about it: these establishments can be anywhere, indoors, underground, rooftops, in the middle of a body of water, wherever your culinary imagination will take you. Regardless of your location, your digital signage equipment has to be able to adapt to the place your business calls home, even if that home is in a backyard or aboard a mobile kitchen.

If your eatery is outdoors, there are a few things you need to consider when choosing an appropriate digital signage monitor. Mainly, you want to choose a display that is suitable for use outdoors, like the Peerless Xtreme Outdoor LCD TVs. These TVs will allow you to display your content in daylight, thanks to their built-in anti-reflective glass and notable 700 cd/m² brightness output. This brightness output is a key factor in showcasing content in locations where lighting conditions can’t be controlled. These models also feature a sealed design in the event of inclement weather, which is often the case outdoors. When paired with a media player, you can use one of these displays to show information such as menu selections, live TV, or both simultaneously. 

For indoor use, you may not need a monitor that’s readable in direct sunlight or that can survive a hurricane; although it would be nice, you should consider choosing one that’s designed to withstand extended operating hours. This is something that most consumer-grade TVs are simply not engineered to provide. Monitors like LG’s LS75A-5B series TVs are capable of delivering extended operating hours and offer the convenience of having a built-in media player; although you are more than welcome to add an external restaurant-friendly media player, such as the AOPEN nTAKE PRO P201. This media player is designed specifically for displaying menu boards and it gives you the ability to connect up to four monitors at detailed Full HD 1920 x 1080 resolution. When paired with a compatible display, like the aforementioned LG, this media player allows you to show your created content in landscape or portrait viewing orientations. This is a great feature in environments where space is limited and flexible installation options are required. Additionally, these monitors support wall, ceiling, or pole-mounted installations. Not to mention, at B&H we offer a wide variety of mounts that can accommodate nearly any installation type. Just be sure to match the VESA patterns of your desired mount with your commercial display. If you need help doing so, we’re here to help.

Retail and Public Environments

Have you been to a mall lately? Upon entry, you were probably greeted by a large digital signage display that showed information such as store locations, hours, and other relevant information. These displays are slightly different than the mounted monitors we discussed earlier. In these locations, you can install a stand-alone display like Viewsonic’s Dual-Sided ePosters. These display solutions feature a viewable screen on the front and back of the cabinets, allowing you to reach a larger audience than monitors with a single screen. They are also designed for easy deployment, as they include their own built-in pedestal stand. Shopping centers are high-traffic areas and aren’t ideal places to have connecting wires running across floors, so this display offers an onboard interface for connecting and mounting a compatible external media player along with an AC connection for powering it. Are you concerned about exposing a display like this one to the rigors of public use? Tempered glass helps to protect the screen from daily wear and tear and gives its owners peace of mind.

Displays such as this aren’t just designed for retail environments; they are also suitable for placement in transportation settings, hospitality locations, and doctors’ offices. When placed in an airport or train station, you can provide passengers with valuable information, such as arrival times, the weather forecast, and even the news. When placed in a hotel, a stand-alone monitor can be conveniently placed in a lobby to show nearby attractions and promotional information. Doctors’ offices are another great location to showcase the flexibility of digital signage installations. A stand-alone kiosk can serve as an information resource for patients, displaying information such as medical news and health tips. Furthermore, traditional commercial monitors like ones used in restaurants can be placed in waiting rooms and used as entertainment devices. Much like consumer TVs, commercial monitors feature an array of connectivity options, such as HDMI inputs, allowing you to connect cable boxes or, perhaps, even streaming devices. When paired with an external media player, you can choose to overlay scrolling messages on top of your live video feed or show split-screen programming.

Education and Houses of Worship

Remember, digital signage isn’t just about advertising, it can also serve as an effective learning tool when placed in the right environment. Monitors like the Infocus JTouch can be integrated seamlessly into classrooms or campuses, and thanks to the multi-touch-capable screen, students can have an engaging and interactive learning experience. With built-in Windows gesture support, users can enjoy intuitive navigation and control, similar to the way we enjoy our smartphones and tablets. With an onboard USB hub and inputs, such as HDMI, VGA, and DVI, educators can connect their learning tools easily. In this setting, you may not need an external media player, since your computer can serve as your primary content delivery source. Outside of the classroom, these displays can serve as way-finding devices, helping students navigate large campuses with ease. In this scenario, an external media player may be a necessary component, as you can configure complex schedules and interactive maps. 

While we do have an array of large-screen commercial monitors in the 80- and 90-inch range, houses of worship can benefit from one of digital signage’s greatest advantages: the ability to create immersive video walls. While video walls work well in a variety of settings, including some of the ones we’ve touched on here, they really shine in environments where there are large viewing audiences whose attention needs to be focused on a single person or location. Essentially, you can assemble and install an expansive video wall, such as this 2 x 2 solution from NEC, which combines four large commercial displays, and eliminates the “bad view” problem that often sends people rushing from their seats. Add an external media player and a video capture device and your audience can follow along in real time without missing a word. You can even program the monitors to act in unison or display independent content. Furthermore, bundles like this one include pull-out wall mounts, configuration software, and bezel kits to provide a neat appearance. Appearance shouldn’t be undervalued when installing a video wall—after all, the goal is to have your finished product to look like look a wall of video, and not just a bunch of disorderly TVs mounted on a wall.

Banks and Financial Intuitions

In settings such as these, knowledge is power. Banks and financial institutions are often buzzing with the latest financial news, including stock prices, mortgage rates, and the best returns on investments. And for good reason—this is precisely the kind of information that customers want to know. With so much news happening all at once, administrators need to be able to deliver this information to visitors in a way that’s easy to absorb and understand. This is not an issue for digital-signage networks; it’s one of their strengths. It’s not unusual for businesses such as these to have more than 20 monitors installed. A spread like this can get messy if all of these displays are operating as single units. Network-connected media players, such as Blackbox’s Subscriber and Publisher units, allow you to communicate with your displays from a single location and control what’s being displayed on their screens easily. These devices allow you to add multiple commercial monitors throughout your digital signage network, while giving you the ability to control various aspects of your video feeds, such as display zones and RSS Web content. Don’t forget to choose the right display as well. If your monitor is going to be on all day, it’s important to choose a display that can meet that demand.

Digital Signage Delivered

While we discussed some of the usage scenarios for digital signage, the truth is, there are plenty of environments that could benefit from digital signage systems. We see them every day in elevators, boardrooms, sidewalks, and so on. Owning or managing a business isn’t easy; it takes strategic planning and hard work. Choosing hardware and software that supports the needs of your business shouldn’t be a daunting task. If you spent time carefully crafting your message, why not let that message reach as many people as possible? After reading this article, we hope that you have a better understanding of how digital signage can help you and what components are required to meet your installation goals. As always, if you need help assembling a system or if you want to learn more about the ways in which digital signage can work for your business, your friends at B&H are here to lend a helping hand.

4 Comments

Is there an application for a drive thru only restrauant where the display is outside in all kinds of weather?

Sure, for this purpose you would want to focus more specifically on monitors suitable for outdoor use. I would recommend sending us an email, askbh@bhphoto.com with your specific needs and usage and we would be happy to recommend something suitable. 

plz give an option for dental office

Hi John -

     The black LG 49LS75A-5B 49"-Class Full HD Commercial IPS Monitor can display 1080p digital signage content at wide 178° viewing angles. This model has a 49"-class IPS display and features a Full HD 1920 x 1080 native resolution for viewing detailed high-definition content. The featured 700 cd/m² brightness output and 1,300:1 contrast ratio showcases this monitor's ability to handle light and dark on-screen images. The 49LS75A-5B also offers the flexibility of supporting portrait and landscape viewing orientations.

This LG commercial monitor features an embedded media player for displaying digital signage content and features DVI, DisplayPort, and dual HDMI inputs for interfacing a variety of external devices. Left and right speaker outputs are available for connecting optional speakers. The LG 49LS75A-5B also features RS232C and LAN interfaces for integrating into control systems. Additionally, this monitor is 400 x 400 mm VESA compatible for wall mounting.

IPS LED Panel

The IPS panel offers wide 178° viewing angle, low screen temperature, and high resistance to blackening defects.

Remote Control via RS-232C and LAN

The RJ45 interface allows easy content transfer and control via network. LG's advanced self-diagnosis function checks the screen status with an optional pixel sensor and supports the SNMP standards for compatibility with 3rd-party solutions.

Embedded Media Player

This commercial monitor has a cost effective SoC embedded media player that consists of a 1 GHz dual-core CPU, 1.25GB of RAM, and a 16GB storage capacity.

OPS Compatibility

Compatible with Open Pluggable Specification (OPS), users have the flexibility of connecting external media players.

Enhanced Fail Over

  • Switches signals from first player to a second connected player
  • Switches signals from an external player to internal memory in case of a player's failure

Additional Features

  • Supports external media players, optional speaker attachment, and optional stand
  • Supports free SuperSign-w lite software for content management and free SuperSign-c software for remote control
  • Supports optional Wi-Fi dongle for wireless control
  • Key lock
  • DOM select
  • Smart energy saving
  • Audio balance
  • Speaker on/off
  • Clear Voice II

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