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How to choose right digital signage solution

With such wide supply of different Digital Signage solutions in the market, it's daunting task to choose correct product.

Cheap initial expenses can be easily outweighed by much bigger future service and maintenance expenses. One of the biggest competition advantages of our product is that we target to keep overall running cost clear from the start, without any hidden expenses or surprises during the lifetime of the project.

For instance, if we wouldn't make sure our devices don't accidentally write to their SD cards, they would get corrupted very soon. Good SD cards aren't cheap - but their price is nothing compared to additional expenses like physically transporting the card to the device, replacing and configuring it, and lost profit because Your customers haven't seen important information - can cost really a lot if You pick wrong solution.

We highly recommend You to pay attention does Your next Digital Signage product meets these requirements: 

Suitable for large-scale deployments

Device can be working nicely for one screen, but when it comes to hundreds, or even thousands of devices, system can be unmanageable.
They can be hard to configure, hard to update, diagnose and predict failures.
They can be very picky about networking requirements.
They can make huge network loads because they do not utilize proper caching mechanisms.

Tools that we use and are described in "Software Stack" section allows us to overcome all these challenges.

Reliability to power outages, resets and etc

It does not matter how hard You will try to protect power, power outages will happen, especially on a large scale. Today most of the signage products ship fully-fledged operational system onboard - that means it has a disk similar to desktop computer disk.  Of course everyone knows how important it is to shut down computer prior to powering it off. However, this requirement applies to many products with operating systems that weren't made specifically to be power-cycle resistant.

For example, stock Android OS even does not have file checking mechanism in place, in case file system corrupts (You know that if You turn off computer not nicely, next time it boots it will take some time to rescan all drives that were open prior shut down). In this case even factory reset does not help -  manual and complicated reflash of the memory chip might be required.

This is relevant also to many linux-based Raspberry Pi digital signage solutions. They boot like a regular operating system, not embedded device, and are also prone for this type of failures.

Of course Android was made that way that it should never turn off (for mobile phone, originally). The battery should keep system running enough time until it properly shuts down. However, it has two cons: battery adds initial and maintenance costs (because it has to be replaced each year or so to be reliable) and still there are situations when device can accidentally reset, especially in large scale digital signage deployment.

Our system has another approach:
• it has different disk parts (partitions) for Operating System and Media
• it boots and keeps disks in "Read-only" mode. So it means we can only read disk, but not change. All temporal changes are performed only in memory.
• We have a special routine to switch device to "read-write" mode that changes disk state during configuration or update.
• because Media is stored in different disk part, and is written more commonly (because media is updated more often than OS, of course), if media disk screws up, we have a mechanism that restores it even in worst case scenario.

That's why our device is completely proof for this danger but still is remotely updatable.

Diagnostic tools and logs

Many systems provide no ar very small amount information how devices are performing in real time. This way it becomes hard to monitor the performance of deployment, predict problems or just see some debugging information in case of some random and unreproducible problems. Even many major and big digital signage providers don't provide full log tracking for their deployment.

You should find out what information will be possible to see in a central system, without connecting to individual devices or physically interfacing the device.

Our system sends all encrypted system logs (journals) to remote server. Of course it's loads of information, but because we use Elastic Search smart indexing, we are  able to properly scale and handle this type of information.


Decent support

No matter how good the software is, sooner or later all projects require support.
Since digital signage might be a key for Your business operation (i.e. You don't
How Your digital signage supplier is going to handle problems and provide You solution ?
How he is capable to diagnose the nature of failure and provide cure for it, making sure it won't happen again?

We are using powerful helpdesk system to respond all queries on time.  Is it just a question of usage, misuse of a system or potential bug - we respond to every single query with great passion and care. We gather all possible information to analyze every case and make our system even more flexible, reliable and better.

Flexibility

Today IT field reality is that software can stand still without further improvements only in case it is not used at all. This applies to digital signage too. Maybe You are choosing a product for current needs  - maybe You need to display simple slideshow of images today. However, tomorrow You might have a broader needs and You might see that You need to change whole system to achieve these goals.

Even if You are looking for an entry-level solution, make sure system You are choosing has ability to grow with Your needs. Otherwise few saved dollars can result in expenses of thousands when You will understand limits of the system.

This limitation can be also actual for old players of the digital signage market.  It's common strategy to sell customer stock functionality license, however, if clients have any special requirements after, they are charged tremendous amout of money.

ImpressBox system is modular and is great choice both for inexpensive generic solution, both as complex integral part of Your company.

As ImpressBox is based on widely known and widely used hardware, even in the unlikely event You would find better software solution for Your company needs, You could switch it without additional investment into hardware. However we are doing everything to be best choice in digital signage market.

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Let's have a coffee

As each project with ImpressBox is unique, we'd love to meet up with You to:

  • Examine Your business case in detail;
  • Present possibilities of this product;
  • Share our experience and present successful business cases;
  • Make individual offer for complete solution.

 

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