The Real Cost of using USB Sticks for Digital Signage

What’s your understanding of how to put content onto TVs for digital signage or classroom playback?

Grant Glas
March 13, 2019
IT

What’s your understanding of how to put content onto TVs for digital signage or classroom playback? If you’re like many organizations I speak with, you’re thinking about creating a Keynote or PowerPoint presentation, placing the JPG files onto a USB Drive, and plugging the USB Drive directly into the TV.

There are a lot of low-priced TVs let people plug in a USB Drive and play content using some software. This software is minimal and no more sophisticated than what you will find in a shoddy digital photo frame. It represents the images in a permanent loop.

There are many problems with using USB Drives.

Look out for what type of image and video formats are supported and what size limitations are allowed. You should also make sure the built-in software will let you loop videos. We have a customer who ran into an issue where their TVs would only play a video once. You could play a group of videos; however, it would just play through the MP4 files once, and then the screen would stop.

There were other difficulties. There was no way to set the duration of each image, and the preset length was 8 seconds. Our customer wanted to show way signage so you can imagine how irritating it was to see the map and schedule on and off every 8 seconds. It was impossible to read, virtually unusable and confusing.

Until cloud-based software became omnipresent, this method of using USB Drives was the go-to way for business owners to update digital signage. The PowerPoint presentation would load onto the screen and run through its slideshow. You’d have little to no control of the content once it’s on the sign.

If you managed multiple locations, you’d have to mail copies of the PowerPoint presentation loaded onto individual USB drives. Alternatively, in some cases have an employee spend an enite day driving around the state to deliver USB Drives! Your employees at each location would then have to plug in the drive and run the presentation without close supervision.

It's now prudent to use a cloud-based CMS like Playlister that saves your content, videos, and signage on an AppleTV. This way you can disconnect the AppleTV from the internet after it’s received your files, and it will play the programmed content for as long as you need.

Platforms like Playlister allow you to make real-time changes and additions to your digital signage – refreshing content within seconds of your desktop or laptop click. That means that while sitting in your office, or at a coffee shop fifty miles away from your sign(s), you can add new pictures, revise content, and update the signage in about 30 seconds. Your update will deploy to all of your screens with a single click. That way you don’t have to open your computer when it is, let’s say, your day off.

Just check out some of our customer quotes below:

“I want to lose the USB sticks” - Jeremy T., The Well
“Super simple… what we have been doing [with USB sticks] was way more complicated” - Derek R., Oakbrook
“You can instantly push content and be done” -Mike S., Rush Creek

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