Running digital signage using mini-PCs is the perfect option for anyone wanting to run smaller scale signage campaigns. These are the perfect option for waiting rooms, reception areas and smaller retailers that recognise the value of large format digital displays, but don’t have the need nor budget to invest in a full network of screens.
Mini-PCs – as the name suggests – pack their technology into smaller, sleeker casing, most often around 20cm square. Yet they pack the punch of a fully fledged desktop unit, with all the convenience of a range of connectivity options and the power of state-of-the art processing and memory performance.
Packs a punch
In a retail or reception area, this blend of power, convenience and small format means a single screen can be run discreetly from a mini-PC tucked away behind a shelving unit, reception desk or display case. Direct wiring can also be housed within the unit, giving staff a single point of access for updating and operating the display.
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Connectivity doesn’t suffer, either. A networked digital signage solution requires a single server unit networked throughout a building, and planning in where to chase-in LAN cabling can prove a headache. Mini-PCs, which boast multiple USB, HDMI, VGA and – increasingly – DisplayPort connections, negate such issues. Wireless and Bluetooth support also means units can be networked and controlled without the need to run cabling between units and a central server.
Mini-PCs also offer something a bespoke server option doesn’t – the ability to upgrade and adapt without having to reassess the entire networked system. For example, some units are modular, enabling owners to add upgrades such as an optical drive. This may seem outdated; but if content is delivered on a DVD format, updating content is as simple as swapping over the disc.
As well as being more energy efficient than a fleet of networked digital displays, individual mini-PCs also run on-board media players. This means individual large format displays can more easily run separate content offerings; so, for example, a medical waiting room can have one display showing patient bookings and appointment times, while a second displays entertainment and general health information. Two or three individual units that are equipped with a file-sharing facility can be quickly deployed to share content or mirror image settings without having to access each individual unit. In-built media streamers mean that almost any file format is supported without the need to install bespoke software. Added to this mini-PCs that offer a phone or tablet app that acts as a remote desktop controller mean that all of this can be accomplished without having to delve into individual unit settings.
A mini-PC solution, such as an ASUS VivoPC, might not suit large scale retailers or restaurants that require complete control over several large format displays, however, for smaller enterprises that need a quick, reliable and powerful option for their display signage should consider the advantages a mini-PC set-up offers.
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