More Player Options Than Any Other Platform

Without any Player licensing fees

Four Things to Consider When Choosing Players


The heavier the content, e.g. 4K video, the more powerful a player is needed


The operating environment the player has to survive in.  Security concerns.

More than a Player?

Do you need the player to do more than display?  Print? Point of Sale? What else?

Player Control

Do you need to know exactly what is happening to the player and control the player itself remotely?

With Display5 you can Mix Player types across your network

When considering the factors above, different use cases have different requirements.  The type of player needed in a retail environment will be different than the player in a small department.  Some are extremely demanding environments with high up time requirements and more casual uses can take advantage of low price points.  Display5 works with different types of hardware players and different OSs running on those players.

Lots of Player Options

Screen manufacturers - System on a Chip (SOC) - Samsung, NEC, LG ...

Screen manufacturers like Samsung, NEC and LG are embedding players within their screen.  These are referred to as “System on a Chip” or SOC for short.  The OS running on these SOCs is typically their own version of Linux with their own browser.


  • A single unit with a embedded player is easier to deal with from a procurement and installation viewpoint
  • The physical security of the player is better being imbedded in the screen, you don’t have to give any thought to anti-theft
  • SOC based systems usually provide good screen management features built in, and often support HTML5

Be Careful:

  • These players are historically underpowered relative to standalone players but they are getting better as the 2nd and 3rd generations come to market
  • You pay a premium for the embedded SOC display units
  • Serviceability is not as good as having a separate screen and player.  When one of the two components breaks (the screen or the player), it is harder to service
  • Getting replacement units when they go down is not as easy as going with separate components

Raspberry Pi & other Fruits

The Raspberry Pi has inspired a revolution in low cost players.  They have an almost cult like tech following and have inspired other manufacturers to copy the model


  • Price, price & price.  These babies are under $50
  • The second generation of Pis are fairly powerful and can play more than just basic content
  • They have their own operating system called the RaspianOS, and it runs a browser of a Raspberry flavour as well, or 3rd party browsers like Firefox (Iceweasel)

Be Careful:

  • These Pi are not commercial units and should not be used in environmentally demanding environments
  • There is no service plan available for Pi’s.  You should look at them as disposable units and just replace

Tablets - iPad or Android

The popularity and ease of use of the iPad and other tablets that followed Apple’s lead,  hasWall Mounted iPad with Floor Directory inspired innovative uses of these tablets mounted on walls, placed on shelves and other permanent mini-display placements.  They have an almost cult like User bias and have bottom up demand, with Users asking for the familiar.  Click on the image to the right to see an iPad with Display5 running a live Floor Directory which can be updated from an editable file in real-time.


  • Familiarity and Ease of use
  • Look and feel
  • Built in touch capability


  • These devices are not meant to be in permanent charge mode, which is what has to happen to mount them on a wall and expect them to operate.  Being in permanent charge mode can lead to overheating of the battery, which in turn is a potential fire hazard
  • There is no service plan, it is more of a remove and replace plan when there is a problem
  • Many of the tablets run Android, which is often not accepted or supported by businesses due to security concerns
  • Although less expensive than some traditional options, e.g. Crestron panels, they are more expensive than commercial built for purpose devices from companies like AOPEN.  See next item down for more info on AOPEN.

10`` - 22`` Commercial Integrated Screen/Players for Room Booking Panels and Retail Shelf Display

AOPEN Chromebase Mini CommercialDevices, like this 10.1″ Chromebase Mini from AOPEN, offers a truly commercial integrated screen/player that can be used for Room Booking panels or for easy placement on a retail shelf.  These types of integrated player/screens are:

  • Easy to set up
  • They work with Wi-Fi
  • And the MSRP, at only $349 USD, is a better option than using a consumer tablet

AOPEN Chromebase Commercial This AOPEN 22″ Chromebase player is part of the same family of integrated screen/players and is well suited in retail or in public display areas or exhibits.

There are more options like these coming to market all the time.  These solutions work will with software platforms like Display5 which are HTML / browser based.

HTML Players


  • Low cost and a wide variety of models to choose from
  • Low power and often can support PoE
  • Usually offer a Linux kernel built in that can be easily customized
  • They all support browser capabilities

Be Careful:

  • These players are historically under-powered relative to standalone players but they are getting better as the 2nd and 3rd generations come to market
  • These players are typically built for uses such as TV streaming and do not come with software for Digital Signage by default, only browser signage software can take advantage of them without major software investment to build a client
  • Servicing is simply a matter of replacing a defective unit , there is no service plan available for these types of devices

Commercial Players

The commercial player manufacturers stress the need for a hardened players that can be inserted into demanding physical environments and can play the most robust content.  We agree that players should be used which are “fit for purpose”.


  • Reliability and serviceability – these factors alone can can make the lifetime Total Cost of Ownership less than the option of buying low cost players that are less reliable and where service means “replace”.
  • Powerful – can handle robust content of many different types
  • Some can do more than display content
  • An OS that is designed to for playing digital media content

The Commercial player market is a big market with lots of options and it can be confusing. We like to further segment the market into two:

  1. Commercial players which support a Major OS, e.g. Windows or Linux
  2. Commercial players which support a Proprietary OS, e.g. lots of them, noteables, Chrome, Cisco

Note: Some manufacturers of commercial players have offerings in both categories.

Major OS

Be Careful:

  • In the case of Windows, don’t install the same OS image as you use for your laptops/desktops (see section below for more details)

Proprietary OS

Be Careful:

  • Don’t get locked into a proprietary architecture
  • Don’t buy into a first generation architecture which requires nightly downloads of content to the player and limited live information

digital signage cms open source

Player Trends

More Commercial

The market is delivering more powerful commercial players at the same or better pricing to handle more robust content and provide a reliable and serviceable network of players

Low, Low Price

The market continues to deliver more power for your dollar, in ultra cheap low end players led by the Raspberry Pi

HTML Players Proliferating

Device and screen manufacturers are delivering more HTML based players. Players that run their own browser.  HTML is driving the market and Display5 is leading the way!

Purpose Built, Corp Standards

What is the trade off between supporting another hardware platform in your organization vs using mini-PC players from a vendor that is already supported?  Check out the section on OS below …

Player OS Why is that Important?

The OS that is running on the player is very important for a number of reasons:

  1. If you want to stay with a Windows™ environment because that is your corporate standard and you already support Windows and Windows devices across the organization, then make sure the Windows digital signage players are using a stripped down Windows OS image that does not have all the same “checks and balances” as your standard laptop and desktop images. Why? Because time and again these “locked down” corporate OS have not work well in a digital signage environment, issues such as security , updates and permissions can cause problems, plus the additional added memory and disk space required.  The content won’t play the way it is expected.  If you are staying with Windows, consider supporting a Windows Embedded OS image for your players instead.
  2. If you are buying players from a vendor that has commercial players with a proprietary OS, you will likely need to have IT vet the OS and support it.  This will take effort and commitment.
  3. The OS should be able to support media handling , such as video codecs, audio and so on and should provide libraries to handle graphics and animation. Plus the OS should ideally support a modern HTML5 based browser.
  4. The OS should use as little disk space as possible allowing you to use solid state local storage on your player.
  5. The OS should be able to support networks and network features for easy access , management and on-ramping.

Player Management Module

The Display5 Player Management module gives you the capabilities to manage the Shows that are playing throughout your network of displays.  You can:

  • Remotely see what is running on a player
  • Group players
  • Assign Shows to players
  • Stop and start Shows on players
  • See the status of all your players at any time
  • Receive notification alerts if a player stops working
  • + + +

Display5 and Advanced Player Management

Display5 works across the widest range of player options and can support a player network of mixed player types, And Display5 does not charge Player licensing fees.  Display5 also has a Player Management module as described above, but there may be certain players in your network which:

1) Have to do more than display content, e.g. print or connect to a POS terminal

2) You need detailed event logging from media that is played or player activity

3) You need the ability to functionally control, e.g. On / Off

If you need these additional functionalities, contact us and we will share just how you can do that with a browser based Digital Media Communications platform.

Contact Us