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I've been asked to provide digital signage for my department, and this is all totally new to me. I'm interested in hardware recommendations for our installation. I recently came across the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS). The idea, if I understand it correctly, is to have a very small standard dimension / standard interface computer that can be plugged into a monitor. It also includes the capability for a system manager to redirect KVM for remote management. This might be something worthwhile or simply some vendor's way to increase profits. We'll have a simple system at first (two monitors between 40" and 50", likely displaying different information). Our campus has Four Winds software, and I'll be connecting into that. Are any of you familiar with OPS or Four Winds? What would you do if you were me? ********** Participation and subscription information for this EDUCAUSE Constituent Group discussion listserv can be found at http://www.educause.edu/groups/.

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We've started using Acer multimedia computers (Aspire Revo). They are ~$400 each and can be mounted on a wall w/o an enclosure. If you need secure mounting, they are small enough to be placed anywhere. They are extremely quiet (may be fanless) and have both VGA and HDMI. They do not have a 9-pin serial port, so you'll need USB/Serial adapters if you need to use them for controls. What software are you looking at, or will you be home-growing a system? -Brian Helman
I can't speak from experience. We've been evaluating digital signage solutions for the past few months. We've about decided on Four Winds but have not yet begun our implementation. One of the integrators recommended that we consider aopen PCs for players. They are very small form factor and have a technology they call vPro that sounds similar to what you describe as OPS. Brent Harris Associate Vice President for Information Technology University of Mary Hardin-Baylor We've started using Acer multimedia computers (Aspire Revo). They are ~$400 each and can be mounted on a wall w/o an enclosure. If you need secure mounting, they are small enough to be placed anywhere. They are extremely quiet (may be fanless) and have both VGA and HDMI. They do not have a 9-pin serial port, so you'll need USB/Serial adapters if you need to use them for controls. What software are you looking at, or will you be home-growing a system? -Brian Helman
We use the SCALA system and employ the AOpen DE7000 series players. One thing to keep in mind: you'll need a robust player (such as the aforementioned) to push content to multi-frame windows (we also have a weather crawl) or to push video content (either canned or live streaming). You'll regret low-cost players if you have sophisticated content feeds. These players cost us about $900/ea plus a SCALA license. Once installed behind the monitor, we leave a USB cable connected in case we need to manage the OS. We simply connect a keyboard and mouse directly to the player and access the Windows OS. No need to pull the player or open the hidden hatch. RG
Thanks for that recommendation. We'll be using Four Winds Interactive software. On 7/25/2012 9:16 AM, Brian Helman wrote: > We've started using Acer multimedia computers (Aspire Revo). They are ~$400 each and can be mounted on a wall w/o an enclosure. If you need secure mounting, they are small enough to be placed anywhere. They are extremely quiet (may be fanless) and have both VGA and HDMI. They do not have a 9-pin serial port, so you'll need USB/Serial adapters if you need to use them for controls. > > What software are you looking at, or will you be home-growing a system? > > -Brian Helman > > >
All, Just wanted to chime in on this. The hardware we typically utilize for digital signage players are Mac Minis running Windows 7. We utilize Microsoft System Center Configuration for operating system and software deployment and management...so although the hardware is Apple, we can manage them in a reasonably standard way. The hardware provides a lot of graphics and processing power in a small form factor, there are locking wall/vesa mounts specifically designed for them, they are very reliable and if they do have problems we can leverage the Apple warrantee without having to work through resellers which can take quite a while. The downside is that there are a few Apple specific quirks to work through such as a lack of PXE boot and a risk that Apple may change the physical form factor at some point but all in all we have been happy with these. If we had to do a video wall, we'd go another route but for the bulk of our signage needs, these work well. Yours, tk Thomas Kunka, tskunka@illinois.edu University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign Service Manager, Illinois Digital Signage Service Leader, EDUCAUSE Digital Signage Constituent Group Leader, University of Illinois SharePoint Users Group
Ditto for NC State. While we have variations, we're mosting running Mac Minis. And while our inhouse software solution will run on either MacOS or WindowsOS, we push the latter as we have more experience remotely managing domained computers. Of course, the cost of these have jumped over the years, so we're also eagerly awaiting our Raspberry Pi ($35) so we can see if it can be used as an alternative. -Dan ********************* Dan Green Director of Information Technology & Operations North Carolina State University, Electrical and Computer Engineering dan_green@ncsu.edu, 919.515.0136, http://www.wolftech.ncsu.edu/
Message from chris@uoregon.edu

All, Last year we rolled out Four Winds. The first installation was on VMware view virtual desktops. Without graphics offload cards in the servers, we ran into issue with graphics speed (specifically using tickers). The second installation (still in deployment) is on Mac Minis. We were able to find cheap and easy devices to secure them. Running Windows 7 on the Mac Mini's works, but I wouldn't necessarily recommend others go that route. Managing their drivers, firmware, and updates, is non-trivial. The bigger challenge we ran into is that Mac Mini's do not support Wake on Lan. While our power is usually consistent, in periods where updates/upgrades/changes are involved, this has been problematic, and required staff physically locating, and in some cases, unmounting, the machines to get them back to a functional state. Also, I recognize, through research, that Four Winds is the "leader" in this industry. I would never describe their software as easy, logical, or pleasant to use. Their support (and sales) response has been immediate, but hearing "that feature will come in the next version" for the last year has not made me their greatest supporter. My 2cents, Chris Wiesemann System Administrator Lundquist College of Business University Of Oregon (541) 346-2082
Hi, Everyone... At Western Carolina University, we have been looking at Digital Signage for about 2 years now. We investigated many, many software vendors and packages in the course of our initial trial. Finally, we settled upon the Navori Digital Signage Software platform. http://www.navori.com/ We have had this solution deployed for over a year now, and have had great success. This platform allows any of our constituents to manage their own content independently to their own preferences, while also giving us the ability to combine resources to provide a cohesive "community" pool that anyone can access. For hardware, we have standardized on the NEC X-series of LCD Displays, ranging from 46" to 55" depending on the location. This are rated for extended hours, and have a nice slim-line aesthetic feel to them. http://www.necdisplay.com/p/large--screen%20-displays/x461s The NEC V-series is also a good option that we have used from time to time, which has just a slightly larger bezel footprint. http://www.necdisplay.com/p/large--screen-displays/v422 We are using the Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) slot based computers as our main player CPUs. http://www.necdisplay.com/p/option-cards/ops-pcaf-wh These computers fit into a slot on the back of the displays, requiring no additional mounting options. This has streamlined our installations, and has allowed us to keep a very sleek and professional look. All we need is one power cable for the monitor, and one network cable. (We tried MacMinis, but could never get them working quite the way we wanted. Also, the mounting options were limited, and the power management didn't work well outside of the Mac OS.) These OPS computers are running Windows 7, which allows us to manage them with the utilities we are already using on our campus. (PXE-Boot, SCCM, Domain Binding, Group Policies, etc.) The NEC displays allow us to schedule startup and shutdown options so that they are running only when our buildings are open, which helps power saving efforts around the campus. I would be happy to discuss any of these options more in-depth, if anyone has any questions. Please feel free to contact me. If anyone would like to see any images of our installations, just let me know. Thanks, Colby Deitz deitz@email.wcu.edu 828.227.7487 Manager - Instructional Computing and The Technology Commons Western Carolina University
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