Today, you have many options for putting text, images, video and even interactivity on a digital display. To stay ahead of the pack, the digital signage specialists have to offer something extra to stay ahead. With its new generation of digital signage players, BrightSign has certainly done that, offering variously video streaming, 4K, mass feature rollout and a host of new features, which, taken together offer those responsible for signage estates an integrated and sophisticated workflow.
While it doesn’t seem that seem that long since BrightSign last refreshed its range of digital signage players (it was actually two years), innovations in technology and changing customer demands more than justify the company’s latest introductions. Each of new models offers s different mix of featured and capabilities. The challenge is to select the features that you need – not just now, but in the near future. This is not so easy when you are trying to predict the next big thing in a sector like retail.
Taking video streaming as an example: BrightSign has made provision for it. But what is its rate of adoption? It depends who you ask. Guy Phelps, Head of Retail and DooH, at NEC Display Solutions has found that streaming is in its infancy: “We haven’t seen a lot of this in retail, only within the loss prevention department for CCTV feeds to the control room. There is interest in presenting content from live twitter feeds in certain applications. We have also heard of fashion brands using it during various fashion weeks, and flagship sites transmitting catwalk shows to other branches, but this is relatively rare.”
The point is that BrightSign has provided for new technologies that are on the cusp of widespread adoption. “The digital signage marketplace is evolving rapidly. For that reason, it’s important that our technology solutions not only support signage as it’s being used today, but that they also work flawlessly many years from now,” said Jeff Hastings, BrightSign’s CEO. “Customers can install our players today knowing that BrightSign software, hardware and networking solutions will serve them well in the future as they implement new and exciting digital signage features.”
New look, new capabilities
For those committed to adopting the latest signage techniques, BrightSign’s line-up of digital signage media players has been completely redesigned and will ship with a portfolio of technology updates including an M.2 interface for Wi-Fi antennae or a solid-state drive (M.2 SSD). BrightSign’s free BrightAuthor software and the BrightSign Network are also updated with advanced digital signage features for enterprise-level performance. (AV News will be carrying out an independent review of BrightAuthor next month).
BrightAuthor software v4.5 will enable a new feature on the HD, XD and XT players called Mosaic Mode, which allows a multitude of lower resolution videos to be played in multiple video zones that add up to the total resolution decoding power of the player’s video decoder. CEA HDR 10 is supported on all players delivering a much higher contrast ratio and much wider colour palette, complementing the higher resolution of 4K displays. And the ability to real-time encode and stream content from the player to another end-point or device is now incorporated in XD and XT players.
B-Deploy is a powerful new feature that allows customers to setup and deploy from tens to thousands of players all at once, can be used with the BrightSign Network, a BrightSign Partner CMS, or an on-premise secure corporate LAN with internet access.
BrightSign Network, including the new B-Deploy feature, now supports media and player tagging for highly targeted content distribution to large networks of players.
Each of the seven new players boasts a sleek new industrial design with a very slim profile under 1” in height that makes it possible to place the players virtually anywhere. All new players integrate H.265 (HEVC playback features) and HTML5. The top two product lines (XD and XT) offer a hardware accelerated H.265 video decoding engine capable of 4K HDR 10-bit video playback.
BrightSign’s portfolio of digital signage media players is now comprised of seven players spanning four product lines:
BrightSign’s LS423 ($250) is a fully featured, commercial-grade player offering a superior alternative to consumer devices often chosen for price-sensitive digital signage installations. Based on the award-winning BrightSign HD platform, BrightSign LS423 delivers signature reliability and affordability, with a robust feature set including H.265 Full HD video decoding, a basic HTML5 engine, USB 2.0 type C, and networking.
BrightSign’s new HD models are updated with advanced technology that delivers power and performance for mainstream applications at a very affordable cost. Both the HD223 ($350) and HD1023 ($450) offer hardware-accelerated HTML5 engine and 1080p60 decode, along with BrightSign’s highly reliable media-handling platform and signature ease of use. All HD models support Gigabit Ethernet, as well as robust interactive controls and dynamic live content features.
BrightSign’s two new XD players are capable of decoding either two 1080p60 videos or a single 4K video and a single 1080p60 video simultaneously. Both the XD233 ($450) and XD1033 ($550) have Gigabit Ethernet and offer an advanced hardware-accelerated HTML5 engine.
The BrightSign XT243 ($550) and XT1143 ($650) offer unsurpassed performance with the company’s fastest HTML and graphics engine and the most powerful CPU. This state-of-the-art technology for enterprise level digital signage installations supports dual video decode of one 4K and one 1080p60 video simultaneously. The hardware-accelerated HTML5 engine enables flawless playback of multiple modular HTML5 assets including CSS animations, Web GL and swipe/gesture interactivity. Both XT models support PoE+ and Gigabit Ethernet, and the XT1143 offers HDMI-in for Live TV playback.
For the systems integrator charged with creating a profitable digital signage network, BrightSign’s pricing policy will come as something of a relief. Not only is the hardware competitively priced but the adoption of HIML5.0 should help hold down the price on any custom coding and content creation.
Our conclusion is that the new BrightSign range is very much a solution of its time – forward looking enough to take its customers to the next level, but not so forward-looking that it leaves them in its wake. While the design of the new units might prompt some to scratch their heads (its all to do with heat loss we are assured), the technical proficiency and value of the new range is to be applauded.
Jeff Hastings, CEO of BrightSign: “Customers can install our players today knowing that BrightSign software, hardware and networking solutions will serve them well in the future as they implement new and exciting digital signage features.”
PADS4: harnessing the power of HTML5
The latest version of the PADS digital signage is another option for designers and operators embracing HTML5 for their digital signage solutions. The PADS HTML5 Viewer provides a cost-effective solution running on multiple platforms including in-house using PADS Desktop Viewer for internal communications.
The PADS HTML5 is a platform-independent player software for Android or Linux based player devices and even System on Chip displays. The intelligent Viewer software uses local caching – instead of streaming – to ensure that your presentation will continue to play, even when the network connection is lost.
New dedicated data providers for social media enable users to incorporate dynamic content from leading social media feeds into their PADS presentations. Advanced features can be added to basic implementations by purchasing additional licenses without changing the underlying solution. Accordingly, you also don’t need to be restricted by the types of content you can display in different locations across your digital signage estate – you can mix and match types of Viewer licenses within your one signage infrastructure.
Dedicated players While PADS4 is platform independent, for those who prefer a complete solution from a single source, distributor Anders+Kern offers a range of dedicated digital signage players for the PADS Viewer. The range spans the Basic Viewer and Xpress Viewer, plus three variants of the Xpert Viewer. Viewer software is pre-installed on your Signage Player.
The PADS4VWXT-P-SPC features HDMI and DVI-I (inc VGA) connectivity, plus 5 x USB and RS232. The 2.5 GHz Intel i3 Processor has 4GB RAM and supports single screen output resolution variable up to 1920×1080 or higher. The PADS4 Xpert Viewer is capable of displaying multiples of elements in your presentation including simultaneous TV and video, charts, tables, embedded PDFs and a zone viewer. A typical PADS4 digital signage presentation might include: a background image; a web page and live TV; multiple text boxes (linked to live data) a title, welcome message, data and time.
Also available from A+K is PLAYipp, a cloud-based publishing platform. This has a template-based tool for quick publishing. A schedule feature regulates everything published, but PLAYipp doesn’t demand any installation or server. Three choices of hardware HDMI dongle are available (PLAYport mini, PLAYport MAX and PLAYbox). These determine what is displayed at the screen. The player is connected to a network. either through Wi-Fi or Ethernet and then plugged into the screens HDMI port.