Monitor & Media Player Combined? Not So Fast…

The majority of digital signage installs that you walk across are comprised of three main components: 1- The monitor/screen, 2- media player and 3- software. However in the last couple of years, LG and Samsung come to mind as providers that have attempted to circumvent the traditional set up with “all-in-one” options.  What they have promised is ease of use, and lower start-up costs.  Depending on what you are looking for, this couldn’t be further from the truth. Not the same

It always comes back to the suggestion that a true digital signage solution looks a lot different than what these types of systems offer.  However, an LG EZSign or one of Samsung’s Smart Signage Platform monitors would probably dispute the notion that you cannot manage both content and scheduling from within.  The fact of the matter is you can, but at what level?  For instance, it is just this “easy” to create new designs with LG EZ Sign.

Let me share with you a couple of lived-and-learned scenarios that we have experienced.

We were contacted by a sign company who had installed 50+ screens at a stadium.  The content of the screens was designed outside of the system because the template options within were primitive.  The signs were installed, the content loaded, and it was time to playback the content with the on-board Samsung media player.  As the playlist ran its course the screens would go blank (black) intermittently.  This was in no way, shape or form acceptable to their client.  In our attempt to trouble shoot the issue, we received the following feedback from Samsung:

Subject- Black Frames between Videos

The SSSP does not support gapless playback between videos as the video needs to be loaded onto the video decoder for it to be decoded and rendered. Samsung claim the transition is normally complete within 1/3 of a second. Samsung are working on a resolution to this however it is not known if this will be available for this year’s models or next years.

Subject- Playing a video after HDMI input

After the SSSP has rendered the HDMI input, it may take up to a second for a video that is next in the playlist to start playing, during this time the screen (if full screen) or zone will display black. The reason for this is that the panel is switching inputs between HDMI and the internal media input.

A traditional menu board client of ours was required by the mall to install digital screens in a food court.  We more than suggested which direction to go but he was sold on the LG EZSign based on a quick google search and price point.  The following is a summary to the client regarding what we ran in to:

The LG EZSign product has been updated to a limited template editor. This was done because LG introduced a product called SuperSign.  SuperSign has the functionality that we are looking for. The SuperSign product requires the use of an LG media player, which costs over $800 per screen.

Our solution is to use the exact same TV, minus the EZSign playback module. This will save $80 in cost per screen. We will then add another media player to each screen for a cost of $100 per screen. The player will allow us to create multiple zones of playback and can be updated locally with a SD flash card.

In case you don’t follow; the LG EZSign had limiting templates embedded which steered clients to their SuperSign that requires an LG player thus resulting in thousands of additional costs for his project.  Further, when firmware updates are required, it is the end-users responsibility to do so.

It all boils down to what you are looking for.  Most screens nowadays have USB playback capabilities.  So if you want a still image (i.e. Jpeg) or a slideshow on a screen, then it is VERY easy to accomplish.  However if you think you are getting a true solution in these cases, you’re wrong.  Companies like Signage Live are leveraging their software as compatible the Samsung D Series.  It provides cloud access and tools to make changes to your screen.  What you don’t get is design-work specific to your location or as-needed support.  Personally, I would never buy in to a solution where I am handcuffed to use a specific company/type of monitor.  It not only removes your buying power from a hardware perspective but also opens you up to inevitable integration issues.

Other Considerations for these types of systems:

  • Where is the content coming from?
  • What is the total cost of ownership?  (monitor cost vs. traditional commercial grade units, design time, etc)
  • What type of training and support is available to you?
  • How do new versions of the screen impact adding a screen to your location in the future (compatibility)
  • Using an external media player allows you to adapt to essentially any screen
  • If an external media player fails you lose the media player temporarily, if the on-board media player fails, you lose the whole unit
  • If you use a 3rd party software that is compatible with one of these monitors, how will it handle newer versions?

Do you have any experience with these types of screens?  What are your thoughts? Leave a comment below and share!  Or you can email us at and we’ll add it to this blog.  888-235-2579