HomeMediaPhoto ToolsThinking about Digital Signage
A fellow board member wanted some ideas on using a digital picture frame to display messaging at an event and then later use the same frame as a permanent addition to an office with updated messaging about the organization. I’ve done some research in the past (and even bought a small digital frame to test, but it’s time to do a little more thinking.
Here’s some of the options – with advantages and disadvantages. I should mention – I’m thinking of doing this on the cheap -, er inexpensive side. The nonprofit doesn’t have a lot of money to go with the professional solutions! So here are some quick t thoughts:

Picture Frame

The largest “Picture Frame” I could find on Amazon is 18 inches. Will start a slide show automatically, and I think it can contain video. You might have to activate the videos via remote.
Advantages

  • The one I saw can be set on a timer, it also has a “motion detector” which turns the show on when someone is in the room, then off after 5 or 10 minutes.
  • Doesn’t need much programming – or wireless

Disadvantages:

  • Small screen.
  • Kind of crappy consumer technology (not professional) – and gets some bad reviews for quality. (Some good reviews also).

Professional Signage Display

We don’t even want to talk about the price of these! 1000+. But completely programmable. Think of the displays you see at shopping centers!

TV with Memory Stick

Advantages

  • Cheap to get a very good energy-efficient 32″ (or larger!) modern TV (under $300)
  • Easy to get cheap wall mounts

Disadvantages

  • Most TV’s won’t start or repeat the slide show automatically.
  • Can play movies on USB memory, but I don’t think they can be included in side-show, at least automatically.
  • In the future the TV could be used with a small computer for a more professional solution.

TV with Chromecast

Advantages

  • Same as TV – big screen is cheap, Chromecast is under $40
  • Can set an automatic slide show from a Google pictures album. Simply update the album with new pics when you want. Note – the album is simply working as a screen saver
  • Timer can be set on TV
  • Can also be used to display web site stuff too. Just not automatically
  • The TV could be used with a small computer in the future for a professional solution

Disadvantages

  • Needs wireless internet
  • Limited to running slide show automatically, advanced functions manual

TV with computer

Advantages

  • Can do everything anyone can think of
  • Can do everything
  • Doesn’t necessarily need wireless or network
  • Could drive video wall or be interactive

Disadvantages

  • Need two devices, although there are some very small computers available these days!
  • Without wireless or network a little harder to program

Professional “canned” Digital Signage solution

Advantages

  • Very cool
  • Could drive video wall

Some other things to consider:

Amazon Fire Stick could work like a Chromecast – but you need an account (linked to a credit card I imagine) to use pictures online.
Other Options on newer TV’s. – haven’t explored these recently. I know many can do web browsing, but I don’t think they can be set up to begin (and repeat) automatically.

Stand-alone computers – placed in Kiosk mode. Requires some programming. Professional solutions available. Somewhat more costly – but with the advantage of an interactive screen – great for some applications!

Touch screen (reasonable price these days – with a small computer – possible to build a kiosk!

I will be doing some more research and testing on this. Much more later!

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