June 27 2022
7 min read
The Android operating system has been associated with mobile devices for the longest time. But everything changed with the advent of Smart TVs in and around 2010. Android, jumping the bandwagon, brought its user-friendly interface to television screens.
Look at these amazing statistics:
Android TV is the fastest growing TV Platform in 2020-2021 and 2021-2022
As of 2022, there are over 2 billion Android users worldwide
The global Android TV market size is expected to reach of around USD 231 Billion by 2026 with a CAGR of around 20% during the forecast period 2019-2026.
Today, Android is one of the most predominant operating systems. It is widely used in:
In this blog, we will restrict our discussion to only Android-powered digital signage players.
Digital signage are screens that display any content (informative, interactive, textual, or audio-visual) primarily for business and mass communication. These screens operate with the help of media players, commonly called digital signage players.
The digital signage player imparts computational powers to a screen by connecting it to the internet. This means, now, a dumb screen like a television screen can let you:
browse the internet
stream online on-demand content
make online transactions
These player devices use different operating systems (OSs) the same way our mobile phones or computers use them. Android is one such OS; other examples can be Windows, Linux, Samsung Tizen, and Chrome OS.
So, a digital signage display using Android as its player operating system will be called an Android digital signage player.
Add to your reading list: A consumer's guide to buying digital signage player
Android digital signage players can come in different shapes and forms, such as:
Android Smart TVs: Android Smart TVs do not require any external media player to power them. These devices come with a built-in System on Chip (SOC) which acts as a highly-compressed circuit board containing the operating system.
Example: Sony X80K, Sony X90K, TCL Class 5-Series
Android TV Box: A TV box is an external box-shaped digital signage media player that is required when using any non-Smart screen. These boxes can be connected to the screen through HDMI ports. Once the box is connected, it allows it to connect to an internet source.
Examples: Xiaomi Mi Box S 4K HDR, NVIDIA Shield, Zidoo Z1000 Pro
Android HDMI Sticks: Another type of Android digital signage player is the portable stick that resembles a larger version of USB sticks. These are called HDMI sticks. These devices function the same way as the Android TV boxes- plug them into your displays, and you can operate your digital signage.
Example: Amazon Fire TV Stick
Brands and businesses extensively use Android digital signage players to empower their screens. And there is a good reason for that. In fact, not just one, there are a bunch of good reasons for that, such as:
Worldwide popularity: The extensive use of android digital signage rides on in general favor of Android as a mobile operating system. People are already familiar with the android way of working; hence adoption is easy.
Low cost: The cost of a Fire TV Stick is somewhere around $50. That is relatively low compared to a mini pc that comes between $200-$700. The low cost of android digital signage players helps reduce the overall cost of digital signage ownership.
Wide availability: Android digital signage players are readily available in any country. These are sold both online and offline.
Ease of use: Android digital signage players are plug-and-play devices. That means there is very little technical know-how involved on the user’s part.
Flexibility in form factor: Android media players are available as both external media players and digital screens with built-in System on Chip (SOC). This allows the digital signage owners more choice in hardware.
Vast developer community: Android is a well-established and seasoned operating system. There is an ever-growing community of android developers; there are unlimited resources, forums, and discussions on android systems. All of this contributes to the ease of development and customer support.
Software compatibility: Hardware-software friction can lead to your digital signage becoming a useless investment. While many operating systems like Linux, LG WebOS, or macOS require caution on the user’s part to check software compatibility, almost all digital signage content management systems support Android as a media player.
Android as digital signage may not be suitable in certain special cases like:
When an organization’s security policy mandates only a particular operating system (example: Windows, Unix).
When there is specific hardware integration with external sensors or there is a need for unique I/O interfaces.
When the digital signage software, that is, the digital signage CMS is incompatible with the Android OS.
That said, Android DS is generally suitable in almost all digital signage deployment cases. Within Android, there are a variety of hardware options available. Organizations have to choose the proper signage hardware after careful consideration of their need in terms of:
Operating environment: Indoor and outdoor placement significantly impact the hardware choice. Before buying a player, factor the outdoor temperature, humidity, and human accessibility into your digital signage strategy.
Operating duration: Take into account how long your media player needs to be active each day. An always-ON display will need a powerful player. Even within Android, some digital signage players can support 24/7 operations, while many devices will lose their performance if over-used.
Performance: What are you using your digital signage for? Do you want to play 4K content? Does your activity involve downloading large content files? Keep these performance variables in mind while choosing the type of Android player for your digital signage.
Special attention should be given to the Android operating system version and support from the CMS provider. Currently, devices are available starting from Android 7-11. Confirm with your software vendor before deciding on this. Pickcel supports a wide variety of Android signage players. We also support several other OSs for digital signage. Check them out here.
As we mentioned, Android digital signage players come in various form factors and an extensive range of prices. The following are some of the top Android media players categorized based on their price range and performance:
Amazon Fire TV Stick is efficient for running a large variety of content on your digital signage, from music, live streams, and dynamic motion graphics. Although it is said to be sufficiently suitable for gaming, we recommend against it. If you want to play 4K content, you can go ahead with the Fire TV Stick 4K as it can deliver a rich viewing experience with up to 2160p resolution and Dolby Vision support. However, before buying a 4K Android player, ensure that your digital signage display supports 4K.
If you plan to set up your digital signage network with Amazon Fire TV stick, this Pickcel Learn Guide will be useful.
Price: $55 (however, you can often get it at a discounted price from Amazon)
The TCL Class 3 Series Android smart display is comparatively less powerful than the Class 4 and Class 6 series. However, if budget is a restraint and you want to play only standard content formats (images, videos, and text-based content), then you can rest assured that you will get value for your money.
The Pickcel PX300 is one of the most suitable Android players designed specifically for digital signage. It is a box player with custom firmware built on Android 9. It contains a pre-built and pre-configured digital signage player app. The PX300 Android player ensures device longevity through scheduled sleep activation.
Price: $180 (also available for bulk order)
The X85K Android Smart TV is among Sony’s mid-range displays. It has rich features like a native refresh rate of 120Hz, 4K, and Dolby Vision support. There are also 4 HDMI inputs.
When it comes to high-end Android digital signage players, Zidoo is a name you can rely on. The Zidoo Z1000 Pro is a fantastic choice if you are looking for a rugged player. This box media player is also excellent for 24/7 power-ON digital signage displays. This device has an efficient cleaning system that cleans unnecessary tasks to improve performance. You can smoothly download and run large 4K and UHD files without interruption.
Sony dominates the market of Android commercial displays. The BRAVIA 4K and 8K professional displays include the BZ40H Series, BZ35F Series, and X8H Series. These displays are built for extensive integration. These sleek screens can also effectively relay dynamic 3D visuals.
Price: Varies, approximately $3000
Android digital signage players are incredibly-efficient as they are plug-and-play devices, have a user-friendly interface, and come in a range of prices and models. However, as we have already mentioned, choosing a suitable Android player should be carefully considered after assessing your business goals and budget.