Equipment Considerations for a Digital Signage Network
The best available and most cost-effective equipment will serve as the heart of your digital signage network. You will need to determine your ideal options based upon your mission and budget. It can be frustrating if the cheapest solution ends up nagging the personnel time and budget due to constantly having to fuss with equipment that won’t work the way you want it to work. You will need to make decisions that appease all aspects and all budgets. This is where a great vendor who partners with you is worth their weight in gold! They can often answer your questions or put you in touch with product manufacturers and engineers who can minimize your headaches. You will find that as time marches on that technology evolves, as well. At some point you will change the build of your computers and look to upgrade the computers you have out in the field with better technology. This is a fact of life.
Our network has evolved over the last five years and we now know what basic equipment is required and where we get the best pricing. We have also found that smartphones are a valuable tool to us in that our servers can send us a text message if they are not operating efficiently, if they have failed-over to the back-up server due to a network or power problem or if we have an emergency situation on our campuses 24 hours a day.
The computers that play the content will need to be given special thought as to what is installed into their towers. You want a very stout power supply and a hard drive that will be able to hold whatever content, graphics and video you will be displaying. If you are going to leverage the power of video content on your content pages you will need a seriously powerful video card with fast processor, graphics and memory clocks. It should have a minimum of 1 GB of standard memory. If your video card won’t keep up, the videos will stutter and the audio associated with the video being played might be out of sync. This will make you nuts.
We have also found great efficiency in having laptop computers (and now tablet computers) that we can use at the office, at a deployment site during maintenance visits, or on the road traveling, or at home to troubleshoot or maintain our content pages. This is helpful especially if someone has a day off or on vacation when a problem creeps up on us.
Custom specified computer with appropriate processor, RAM, hard drive and video card
Will the computer and equipment be placed in a climate controlled secure area?
Digital Display (monitor, screen, LCD, LED, Plasma) (What size and resolution?)
Digital Display (Indoor or Outdoor) (If Outdoor… climate controlled?)
Adequate cooling fans in computers and video cards (excess heat is a killer)
Wall Mount for digital sign (flat mount or articulating arm mount?)
Where will we stage / store these pieces of equipment until installation?
Directed audio (ceiling tile, long panel or small panel) (panphonics.com parametricsound.com)
Who will install the power drops? (How many and where?)
Who will install the network drops? (How many and where?)
When will those power and network drops be installed?
One back-up system on the shelf ready to go in the event of a failure (dark monitors say you don’t care)
Audience and Biometric Measurement (TruMedia)
Hardware upgrades have been known to present challenges. (Test, test, test)
Securing digital signage with padlocks, goofy bolt heads, or security alarms.
Securing digital signage with PIN numbers to prevent changing channels.