The good, the bad and the ugly

Running digital signage on a Smart TV without a player. Can it be done? The good [news] is that yes it can. The bad? There is a downside. The ugly? Read on to learn all about that part.

Digital Signage without a Player. How?

There are a few ways that a TV can work as a digital signage display without a player, including:

  • Professional Displays have built-in systems of their own. Most of them have a so-called System on Chip (SoC) that allows them to work with specific platforms and software. Samsung, LG, NEC, Hyundai, among others, provide such solutions.
  • Embed the Player inside the TV. That is the case with Android TVs and some open architectures, like NEC’s Open Pluggable Specification (which, by the way, supports Raspberry Pi). You just add the Player (either hardware or software) inside the TV.
  • Use an HTML5-based Digital Signage platform. These platforms provide you with a web address, which you then use on the web browser of your Smart TV (or PC, tablet, etc) to display the content.

Let’s skip the professional displays and embedded Player cases. For both, there’s actually special-purpose hardware that we can use for playback; it’s just that it’s already inside the screen and not an external device. Let’s focus on HTML5 Digital Signage solutions.

The pros of HTML5 for digital signage

HTML5 for Signage – The Good (as advertised by the protagonists)

Getting rid of the Player might seem radical, magical even. But hold on, let’s drill down to the details.

HTML5 for signage has the following advantages:

  • Can be used on any device that supports fullscreen HTML5 – that’s almost anything, from a SMART TV, to a Chromecast, to your PC. So, you can test it easily.
  • Supports most frequently-used content, including videos, images and tickers. Depending on the platform, you might also get small apps, like social feeds, weather forecasts, etc.
  • Browsers are usually accelerated by hardware, so playback is (usually) smooth.

And that’s about it.

The cons of HTML5 for digital signage

HTML 5 for Signage – The Bad (which they won’t tell you)

Seems like such a marvel in technology would not have drawbacks, right? Prepare yourself to be astounded.

  • There’s no communication or access to the playback hardware. You cannot turn the TV set on or off, like with most Player-based solutions.
  • It needs an internet connection to work. No matter what they say, if there’s no Internet, it won’t work. In contrast, almost all Player-based solutions can download content locally and play it back for weeks until the Internet comes back on.
  • If the screen is turned off (either by a power outage or some kid with a TV-b-gone remote), it will never come back on unless you power it up. With a signage Player, you can set it up.
  • Also, you will have to manually navigate to the unique web page of your HTML5 player each time your Smart TV (or PC, or tablet) restarts – unless you set it up to do so automatically.
  • Reliability. Players are devices made for 24/7 operation. Smart TV Browsers, simple PCs and tablets are not.
  • Severe content limitations. Forget PDF files and custom code running. Also, showing 3rd-party web pages on part of the screen can be really tricky.

Ugly eh? It’s easy to make this list even longer, but it would be a waste of blogging brain power. What’s important is that HTML 5 is great for previewing playback and testing it – we’re planning to add an HTML5 browser preview feature too! In the real world, however, you need a reliable Player that you can just set up and forget about.

Can we help you?

Yes! And this is why we give Yodeck Players for free with every annual subscription. The last thing we want is for customers to be preoccupied with hardware costs. We simply want to ensure that we deliver a robust, reliable solution that is as professional as you are.