Displays equipped with System on Chip technology (also known as: Smart TVs) are becoming very popular with digital signage network operators. In fact, Smart TVs have been around for some time now but early models were hampered by low-end processors and a limited amount of memory. These displays could only play out basic content. Early versions of Smart TVs initially ran on proprietary CMS software that offered limited features. What made matters worse, each new generation of Smart TV models would operate on an entirely new CMS. In many cases, older Smart TVs were incompatible with the new software since they lacked the features included with the new displays.
Some third-party CMS software developers began to adapt their solutions to support Smart TVs. However, they ran into roadblocks because each Smart TV manufacturer used their own proprietary operating system. Software had to be adapted to each platform and features were inconsistent because each hardware had different specifications. Some Smart TVs had better processors so they could display high-quality video than others. Some featured more advanced video playback hardware
It’s one thing to code for Microsoft Windows or Android but now developers were faced with creating and maintaining multiple versions of their products.
Fortunately, the situation is improving as Smart TV manufacturers begin to standardize on common operating systems, like Android. Of course, there will always be some products based on proprietary technologies, but there is a consensus amongst major manufacturers that it’s better to stick with popular operating systems.
For one thing, third party digital signage CMS developers own a huge share of the software market and Smart TV manufacturers recognize this fact. They must support popular third party software to generate more sales. It’s simple economics.
The advantages of using third party CMS software with Smart TVs
By standardizing on popular operating systems, Smart TV manufacturers are creating interesting opportunities for end-users. More and more digital signage software developers are attracted to the platform. This means more software choices and better features are coming to your next Smart TV.
Here are some advantages:
- End-users benefit from an existing and proven digital signage CMS They can rely on digital signage CMS software that’s been around for years, and gain from the company’s expertise. We’re talking about solutions from industry pioneers who have enhanced and refined their products over time. Many of these professional-grade software applications have already begun to support Smart TVs, enhancing their utility.
- Existing third party digital signage CMS users can leverage their existing product knowledge without having to learn an entirely new software platform. Products that can integrate Smart TVs with other types of media players transparently will lead this segment.
- Many digital signage CMS software offer enhanced hardware management features. With Smart TV’s tight display / media player integration, end-users can expect better hardware control and enhanced reporting capabilities.
- Digital signage CMS software offers enhanced features not currently included by Smart TV manufacturers. Features such as content tagging, playlist merging, support for complex network structures and advanced programming are now possible with many Smart TV brands.
- Third party CMS software solutions lets end-users manage a mix of play out devices, including Smart TV hardware from multiple vendors. End-users are no longer restricted to a single manufacturer’s brand or model. They can manage networks running Windows PCs, Android media players and tablets, plus various Smart TVs from different vendors. In the ideal scenario, the process is completely transparent and there is no user re-training required. This way, end-users can continue to be productive as new devices are added to their network.
- A third party digital signage CMS future-proofs your investment. It’s well known that Smart TV manufacturers change their product offerings continuously. This process if often based on manufacturing capacity and component availability. Also, many display manufacturers keep reinvesting in research and development to bring better products to market. Case in point, today’s 1080p displays are slowly being pushed out the door and replaced by 4K displays. Soon we’ll see 8K displays being rolled out to replace 4K units. Sometimes it’s a case of new technologies that don’t pan-out, and when this happens products can become obsolete overnight. Remember 3D TVs? They were a hot item just recently and the technology seemed poised to take over the market. Now, there are very few 3D TVs left on the market and the units still available are destined to cater to a niche market. Third party digital signage CMS software continuously adapts to new display technologies. TVs may change but the back-end software running the show will evolve and keep up to date. Anyone running a decent sized display network will appreciate this.
- Third party digital signage software developers aren’t in the hardware business. They operate independently and will only support only the technologies that are most likely to thrive. If you want to know which are the top tier Smart TV manufacturers, check out who supports their products. Chances are these are the ones that will dominate the market for years to come. It’s important to stick with the major players because there are less chances your hardware will become obsolete.
What to look for in a third party Smart TV digital signage software?
Regardless of the Smart TV brand you choose, always remember the CMS software is the engine that drives the show. It pays to spend some time evaluating each solution before committing to a platform. Failure to do so can come back to haunt you later.
Here are some of the top features to look for in a professional-grade digital signage CMS:
- Flexibility: Your digital signage CMS should support a wide range of content including static images, video, animations, presentation material, live data from many sources (RSS, XML, databases, social media and others), web pages and streaming video.
- Reliability: Digital signage operates on a 24 hour/7-day basis. Your CMS and media player software must be able to perform 24 hours a day, all year round with the minimum amount of fuss. You don’t want your audience to look at blank screens.
- Features: Third party CMS solutions should offer better features than is bundled with your Smart TV. Otherwise, why bother with a CMS at all? Professional-grade CMS products deliver features that aren’t included with your typical Smart TV bundled software.
- Meta tag support: Tagged content will only play on media players that were assigned matching tags while other players will ignore the content.
- Enhanced status monitoring: Know when a media player goes down and what caused the issue. The best CMS products will also include watchdogs and background services that will ensure the media player is always running at peak efficiency.
- Enhanced content playback reporting: Run detailed playback reports that cover every aspect of the content status. Know where the content played, and how many times it played. See if the content played full-screen or in a zone. Filter results to focus on the specific information you require.
- Extensibility: Professional-grade CMS software features SDKs so the solution can be integrated with business processes to automate tasks and simplify management. Trigger content based on external events using sensors, scanners and other software (RFID tags, motion sensors, thermometers, webcams, Kinect, fire alarms and more).