Digital Signage

On Apr 13, 2006, at 7:17 PM, somebody wrote:


My Department wants to investigate putting up a flat screen monitor 35 – 45" in  hallway to show a continuous slide show of our students in action.

We need your suggestions for equipment and software, etc..  Thanks.

Disclaimer: I’m new to this, too, as I have not been involved in any of the "Digital Signage" projects around UVM, nor have I been tracking the market. The following is pulled together from a lot of googling, and may contain content copied and pasted from unattributed websites.


Plasmas provide the most cost-effective flat screen option, with sizes typically ranging from 42" through to a whopping 70". The upside is that they are affordable and offer good picture quality. On the downside: screen brightness will diminish over time, just like ordinary TV’s. Plasma screens are also very susceptible to phosphour burn-in, which can be a problem with the repetitive nature of digital signage programs. Avoid plasmas if your application is multi-zone. Plasmas typically draw more power than similarly sized LCD panels. Budget to replace them within 3 years if you are planning to run them for 12 hours a day or more.

LCD panels are a bit more expensive than a similarly sized plasma screen, but the extra expense is worth it over the long haul. LCD’s have no risk of screen burn-in, and do not draw as much power as Plasma screens. Also, because they are a backlit technology, the brightness does not diminish over time. LCD panels have a tremendous range in size, from small 15" to larger 46", and larger ones are being released all the time. They have a much longer life expectancy than plasma screens, and when you factor in the possible replacement costs of plasma, LCD’s have a much lower cost of ownership.


Well, you’ve got analog, such as RCA-Composite and S-Video, or separate Component Video (a.k.a. Y-Pb-Pr) . Then there is VGA, which is available on some models. For pure digital, there is DVI (Digital Visual Interface), which is great for video but doesn’t include audio, and the latest HDMI (High-Definition Multimedia Interface), which includes high definition video and audio. And you may need HDCP (High-Bandwidth Digital Content Protection), which appears to come standard with HDCP but not with DVI.

The connection required is also dictated by your media source: PC or HDTV Tuner or something else. If we’re talking PC, you’ll need VGA or some kind of VGA to Y-Pb-Pr converter box, or have a DVI capable video card in the PC (standard on most Macs). DVI is the preferred connection — VGA performance starts to deteriorate at higher resolutions (slower graphics requiring simpler data layouts).

Media Source

I assume this will probably be a PC, subject to above connection limitations. But, depending upon your budget and dreams and software choices, you may employ some sort of middleman box — either something simple, like the Pacific Digital DS-CS  or a fancy networked gizmo like this NEC BLUEFIREVCPCI or this Minicom Cat5 Video Display Broad Caster OVS22011  in conjunction with the Minicom CAT5 Audio Video Display Remote OVS23009 (). Also, the MagicBoxAavelin

The Fancy Networked gizmos seem like overkill if you are not trying to centrally manage a bunch of screens in remote locations.


Minimalist approach would be PC, Big Screen, and Powerpoint.

Fancier, but requiring some skill to design and program, would be a Macromedia Flash or Director show. This could be programmed to gather both static content from local hard drive as well as dynamic content from the web.

Very fancy, theoretically easier to use but more expensive than the above, are various Digital Signage specific solutions, like Scala’s InfoChannel Designer and InfoChannel Player ; Wirespring FireCast OS ; or EyeLink PC

About Wesley Wright

Born on a mountain top near New York City, Craziest state in the land of the pretty. Raised in the woods so's he knew every tree, Killed him a bear when he was only three.
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