When you only start building your digital signage tv network, you inevitably come to the question of choosing the right OS to run it. There are several options that will define the success (or failure) of your signage journey. Let’s review the most popular options to make sure that your relationship with the display technology is as smooth as it gets.
Let me say it straight away, in this article I will talk about the digital signage TV OS for cloud-based solutions only. Why? Because I personally think that this is the future of technology and the ways to apply it for businesses are immense. Also, budget-wise it will be much cheaper than running an extensive on-site digital signage network.
You can read more about the difference between cloud-based digital signage and on-site digital signage in this article:
So, what is an OS for digital signage?
Digital signage TV OS is an operating system that allows you to show content using screens. As simple as this definition is, choosing the right operating system is one of the most essential tasks that business owners and IT professionals face when starting their path in display technology.
With several different options on the market with different specs and capabilities, it’s easy to get lost in the process. One piece of advice I will give you is to always go with an OS that works for your particular business case.
For example, you may read reviews online and check out the commentary of the professionals saying that Windows is one of the best OS for digital signage out there. However, it lacks the speed and simplicity of other choices like Apple TV and Android TV. Once you have your solution up and running you discover that the whole thing is too heavy for you and your team to handle and you require a separate team just to manage the system. That’s when you spend more time and money than you should on a tool you don’t actually need and can’t use for your business.
Always compare the capabilities and advantages of the OS with the goals you have and choose the one that aligns with them in the best way.
What is a digital media player?
The majority of cloud-based digital signage solutions are running on one (or several) operating systems like tvOS, Android TV or Chrome. A digital media player is the device that allows tying the whole system together. Usually, in order to establish the digital signage network, you would have to go through a simple process of connecting the device to your displays and downloading the digital signage software that will do the job.
In that way, it becomes similar to other SaaS (software-as-a-service) solutions. You will have access to the whole digital signage infrastructure just by using a digital media player and the app. It’s a deal-breaker for those who don’t want to get into all the complicated tech stuff involving hardware and puzzling IT offered by the digital signage companies from the past. With cloud-based, it is all simple and that’s the beauty of it.
So, as I wrote earlier, the main cloud-based digital signage TV OSs are:
- tvOS – used in Apple TV digital media player
- Android TV (based on Android) – used in many various digital media players
- Chrome OS – used in Chromeboxes
Why using digital media players is a good idea
There are many articles online that are dismissing the non-Windows digital signage and cloud-based solutions. Most of them are written by the big players that actually sell the on-site solutions. Sure, every business is different and goals are not the same, but it is really the time to embrace a new digital signage era. When it’s the user who is in full control and not the digital signage company.
The software shouldn’t be complicated. You shouldn’t have the special tech knowledge to manage it. What you should do is just produce the top-notch content and have a solution that can do the best job of broadcasting your idea to the audience using screens. And that’s when cloud-based is the best. In tandem with one of the aforementioned operating systems, it’s really a leap into the future.
Without further ado, let’s get into a comparison of the different OS.
Apple TV Digital Signage
That’s really my favorite. While originally Apple’s digital media player wasn’t destined for digital signage, with time and additions to their hardware, the company delivered a device that is perfect for both the small signage needs and enterprise-level network. With the right software, it can do magic. All of it is backed by the Apple philosophy, slick looks and security.
Digital signage using Apple TV is still considered as a kind of an underdog in the signage community but it’s definitely worth getting into. With their streaming device you will be able to do almost everything that other hardware options are offering: show various types of content, run videos, ask for feedback, run alerts and announcements, create digital menus.
Unless you’re not looking for something like an interactive gesture-based kiosk that reacts to the voice, Apple TV can handle all the main digital signage content needs gracefully and in style.
What you will need to start: just an Apple TV and digital signage software.
Android TV Digital Signage
While it’s not an obvious choice, Android TV can be a golden find for those who are looking for simple and budget signage for their business. There are plenty of software providers that can make sure that you’re getting your content out to the audience.
The main advantage here is that you can choose from a variety of android TV boxes for digital signage. However, be aware of the limitations. Different devices have different specs. It’s one thing if you’re only looking for a few screens to show the latest promotions. It’s another thing if you’re looking to create a digital signage network for a stadium.
So, the verdict: if you’re looking for simple digital signage with low costs to implement, Android TV is perfect for you. Also, it is a great option to experiment with content and an ideal solution for a pilot test of the network. You can buy several boxes, have budget software to run content and see if it fits your marketing goals before opting for more expensive and sophisticated choices.
Chrome OS Digital Signage
This one is relatively new and still largely a terra incognita among digital signage players. Yet, it has a great potential to be the future of cloud-based solutions. While it’s not quite there yet in terms of flexibility and performance, Chrome OS is a great option for cheaper and simpler digital signage for a company that only starts using it or has no ambitions to go further in terms of content delivery.