Many digital signage products are capable of fancy animations, video and audio: all the stuff you can’t do with printed media. Many users have much simpler needs: display rotating images with some dynamic data.
Affordable, Easy to Deploy, Digital Signage
Mark Anderson | AVSystemsMag
Affordable, Easy to Deploy, Digital Signage
Noventri, a digital signage vendor, has decided to create a niche for itself with a low cost, simple to deploy, and inexpensive to operate product: the SF-100e digital signage player. The product is not only colored green, but truly is green. It weighs in at half a pound and is only 5-inches by 4-inches by 1 inch.
The player is totally solid state, generates no heat to speak of, and contains no vent holes. While it’s not waterproof, it does mean it can be installed in some pretty hostile or rugged environments and is even certified to be installed behind drywall. The device can operate in temperatures from -40-degrees to 185-degrees.
Power consumption is one of its greenest features. At only 3.5w, its annual cost to run is less than $4. Compare this to a PC-based player with a 200w power supply. The annual cost for this device is about $200. This 98% saving is significant when multiple signs are deployed.
The unit is equipped with a USB port, an RS232 Port, RJ45 Ethernet, DVI-I (which can be converted to VGA or HDMI) and a power input socket and comes with a 1GB thumb drive. Resolutions from 640x480 to 1920x1200 are supported.
Although the sign doesn’t support video, the built-in RS232 port allows the display to be switched over to a live video feed (on a different input on the display) on a schedule. It can also be used to turn off displays during out of hours periods, leading to further power savings.
Installation takes a few minutes and in most cases, deployment is as simple as running power (for the display and the player) and a single cat 5 to the display’s location. The box is so small and light, it can be attached to the back of the display or to its mount. The server software can be located on site or offsite. The two diagrams below show a simple, single-location installation and more complex multi-site installation.
Noventri’s proprietary software (Noventri Suite) , which is very similar to any desktop slide software, allows users to design layouts and incorporate dynamic data from databases, excel documents and even plain text files. This can then be sequenced and deployed to players or groups of players. For example, a coffee shop with 10 branches might have 3 digital displays, one for drinks, one for food and one for promotions. The 3 drinks boards can be placed in one group and the meals and promotions in two other groups. When new promotions or changes to the menu are required, the new content is deployed to the relevant group.
Below is an example of a menu board driven from excel. When prices change, the store manager simply updates the excel spreadsheet and the prices will be reflected on the board on the next refresh
The Noventri software allows remote diagnostics, configuration and monitoring, as long as the network connection is up. This alleviates the need for trips to remote locations for configuration changes. The software also allows the creation of users and groups with the ability to limit who can access which players and what tasks they can carry out.
Clients can manage their own content or can have it centrally managed by Noventri.
Still Image Signage
Utilizing still images and dispensing with animation and video dramatically reduces both the procurement and operational cost and complexity. Many users are also pleased with dramatic network bandwidth requirements in comparison to video based signage. Anyone with basic computer skills can create their own content. Even dynamic data can be handled without database skills. Naturally, larger installations are able to connect to virtually any SQL database for their dynamic content. V2.4 of the software will support RSS feeds.
Typical applications are:
- Quick service restaurants - promotions and menu boards
- Hotels - lobby, meeting rooms, promotions for restaurantSporting venues
- Call centers
- Schools and libraries
- Flight boards
Pricing is attractive at $599, which includes free software upgrades for life. At this level, it doesn’t even warrant using splitters and extenders to drive multiple displays. It’s only marginally more expensive to buy an additional player and deploy identical content on each screen, with the added benefit of being able to customize each display’s content in the future.
Noventri can be contacted via their web site: http://www.noventri.com. Noventri sell direct to end users and also have a reseller program.
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