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Digital Signage Solutions and the External Media Players vs. Smart Signage Debate. Here's Why It May Be Over.

Digital Signage
Managed Services

Virtually everywhere we look, we see divisions. Be it politics, raising children, or dogs versus cats, there never seems to be something we can all agree on. Digital signage solutions are no different. For a few years now, digital signage buyers have been presented with an alternative to external digital signage players - SoC (System on Chip) and SmartTV displays.

More traditional technology providers readily discount SoC smart digital signage as "less powerful." Some of these buyers are looking for expansive UHD/4K video walls, where traditional signage players are daisy-chained to create large, immersive video experience. Some of these buyers are thinking about HD touchscreen kiosks that "require the immense processing power of an external digital media player." Those entrenched in this way of thinking, will state the list of use cases that require external signage players goes on and on.

Let’s pause for a second and consider these arguments. Why do some believe that a SoC/Smart Signage solution can't perform the aforementioned tasks? After all, as SoC and Smart Signage technologies evolve, costs continue to decrease, capabilities improve, and signage management becomes easier.

First, let's start with the financial benefits of Smart Signage. External digital signage requires two pieces of infrastructure to operate: a signage player and a screen. These signage players often cost several hundred dollars, in addition to the cost of a screen. With Smart Signage it's an all-in-one solution. Additionally, with the price of Smart HD displays decreasing, SmartTVs offer a cost-effective alternative to external digital signage. Additionally, SmartTVs have integrated Wi-Fi, further reducing the number of devices that require support, maintenance, vendors, and lowering TCO (total cost of ownership).

The benefits of Smart Signage run deeper than the balance sheet. Smart Signage are now able to fulfill the needs originally met by external signage players. For example, Smart Signage can split images across multiple panels and integrate touchscreens into kiosks. Since the inception of SoC displays, a number of third party technology providers have brought touchscreen overlays to market, enabling virtually any screen to be made into a touchscreen. LG and Samsung offer Smart Signage solutions with integrated touch, a reminder of the simplicity of Smart Signage solutions.

Smart Signage management is also simpler. Setting up a traditional media player and adjusting its settings typically requires a keyboard and mouse. With Smart Signage solutions, vendors leverage the screen's I/R remote. Now, users can simply pick up the remote, modify settings, and access additional features. For Smart Signage solutions with live TV integration, changing channels is even easier.

Smart Signage offer ways to simplify countless other applications: waiting area signage, conference and meeting room signage, and employee-facing and corporate comms signage. Smart Signage also simplifies deployment and maintenance for signage above time clocks, on menu boards, mounted from the ceiling, and end cap displays in retail stores. All of these are easier with fewer devices.

Though Hughes continues to offer traditional media players, we are excited about the addition of Smart signage to our portfolio and the flexibility it offers our customers.