There are three main aspects of any digital signage system: the display, digital signage software, and the media player.

  1. The digital signage software or content management software (CMS) is where content is created and managed
  2. The media player for digital signage downloads this content and sends it to screens
  3. The display is just that; it shows the images, videos, promotions, web pages and other content you want your audience to see.

Media players can take many forms. Some come in the form of a USB drive. Some look like routers or modems that would be mounted behind a display. Others yet can be embedded in a screen such as the LG System on Chip (SoC) displays. No matter what digital signage player, its job is to make sure the content gets where it needs to go at the proper time. 

Before settling on a media player for your digital signage, there are four must-haves that every media player should offer:

1. Support for Multiple Content Formats

Digital signage is effective because of its versatility. No traditional signage can play videos, pictures, web pages, HTML5 content, weather and offer interactive content all from the same display. Plus, if you want to change your content, it can be done with the push of a button – no print shop necessary. With all the different forms of digital media available to you, why would you want to limit yourself?

When looking for a media player for digital signage, make sure you get one that can support multiple content formats. Otherwise, you’ll just be limiting the effectiveness of your digital signage and ultimately, your business.

2. High-Quality Playback

Playing dynamic content is the entire purpose of a digital signage system. When shopping for a media player find one that offers high-quality playback to ensure that your digital signage campaigns run smoothly and efficiently.

These media players will be able to display multiple forms of content simultaneously, whether on the same display or spread over several displays. With so much content going on, some lower-end media players can experience long load times, which lead to blank screens. Nothing hurts your company’s image more than a boring blank screen or a spinning load wheel. Even if your company isn’t big enough for multiple digital displays just yet, by finding a media player for digital signage that offers high-quality playback, you know you’re covered whenever you decide to grow.

With some systems, there can be a delay between deleting content from a schedule in your CMS and the content not displaying on your screens. This delay is caused by the media player and is referred to as the heartbeat. The better the media player, the shorter the delay. Players offering high-quality playback will be able to update content faster and avoid outdated content from being shown.

3. Open Platform

Just like picking out a puppy, you want your media player for digital signage to be able to play nice with everyone. There are tons of dedicated media players on the market that only work with one software. What happens when another company comes out with a vastly superior CMS? You’d have to switch over your entire system!

By choosing an open-source media player, it’ll be able to work with any software regardless of brand or operating system. The digital signage industry is dynamic. Businesses that can’t adapt to the ever-changing infrastructure get left behind. If a simpler or more robust CMS comes along that’s guaranteed to improve the way you communicate with your audience, you’ll be able to use it without changing your media player. Open platform media players ensure your ability to remain flexible no matter what the industry throws at you.

You might not be able to justify the expense of enterprise CMS yet, but maybe you will in the future. An open platform media player can grow with your business. It doesn’t matter if you start with the lowest-budget CMS on the market; if you need to upgrade to a robust one as your communication needs change, you won’t have to upgrade your open platform media player.

4. Security

Media players for digital signage are only as reliable as their OS. Just like any computer, a digital signage media player has to run on an operating system, and not all of them are created equal. Some are more vulnerable to cyber-attacks than others. While security might be more important in some industries than others, it should be a major consideration for any business that uses digital signage.

One aspect of security with any media player for digital signage is its physical accessibility. How easy is it to get to? Some media players are small enough to plug directly into the back of a display. If the display is in an easy-to-reach place, what’s stopping someone from reaching around back, taking the media player and tampering with the content? More secure media players can operate remotely, away from the public displays.

Even without physical access, hackers can still find a way into your media player’s system through your wireless network. Network firewalls and passwords are effective up to a point, but if someone does get through, you want to know that your content is secure. Make sure your media player runs on a secure OS and is able to automatically download regular software updates from the internet.

If security is of the utmost importance, make sure your media player offers LAN capabilities. Wired LAN connections are much more secure than wireless connections.

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Selecting a Media Player for Digital Signage

Digital signage systems are only as good as their brain. Selecting the right media player for digital signage can make or break your marketing campaigns. Make sure it can support multiple content formats, offer high-quality playback capabilities, works with different CMS and that the system is secure from attacks. If your media player has these four features, it should easily support any digital signage system you need and will be able to grow with your business well into the future.