Top 10 End-User Products at DSE 2011 by Margot Douaihy

Commercial AV end-users are tasked with more day-to-day servicing and management of digital signage, while more in-house AV technicians are spec'ing their facility's solutions. End-users care about mobile interactivity and networkability, but the real Buying Decision Checklist is: ease-of-use for the whole staff, product reliability, network impact (if any), the value proposition, and return on investment. Can life safety or emergency notification be integrated and upgraded? Can the fan experience be enhanced at the stadium? Can facility operations be improved or streamlined via a new platform? The Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas showcased a host of new products and some were (frankly) more of the same with a different name. But others offered new conveniences and performance enhancements. Most of the products were fresh of the mint, so we could only evaluate them in the context of the trade show. With that said, here is our editors' list of the Top 10 End-User Products at DSE 2011:10. Panasonic and Haivision have partnered to combine Haivision’s CoolSign digital signage software platform, preconfigured on a media player PC, and Panasonic’s professional LCD displays. This bundled digital signage package offers easy-to-specify ordering, simplified delivery, competitive pricing, CoolSign-player license certificate, plus a two-year parts and service warranty. The CoolSign Panasonic bundle was showcased on 42- and 47-inch LCD displays.

9. Because a great DS solution usually includes (an overlooked yet nifty) mounting apparatus, we're including Peerless Industries' Digital Menu Board Kit on our Top 10. This kit allows an infinite number (yes, infinite) of display configurations, so end-users can fit an individual digital menu’s length. It features full flat or tilted viewing (to -5, 0, 5, 10, or 15 degrees). Anti-tampering features will foil thieving ninjas and are included as part of the product’s security hardware.8. The RoomRoster 10.4 is a digital sign with a built-in MagicBox player, content creation software, and EZ Stream database integration software. End-users can create graphics, crawls, and video playback in addition to the interfacing and extracting information from their database(s). You can display schedules and agendas outside of conference rooms, convention halls, and meeting rooms, etc, along with general messaging.

7. Connect much? The PN-L601B-PKG by Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America is a whiteboard with PC connectivity to the back of the display, via a provided HDMI cable. Sharp and ICA teamed up to create an interactive whiteboard for meeting collaboration, video conferencing, interactive digital signage, presentations, and higher-ed applications. The bundle includes the PN-L601B 60-inch full-array LED backlit touch-panel display, the PN-TPC1W compact whiteboard PC, and SR-560M rolling cart floor stand.

6. Planar Systems' 82-inch LCD display, the d82L, is noteworthy for end-users because it was created to reduce install and maintenance costs. It offers easy-access electronics via an integrated "AccessConsole" on top of the display, advanced networking features, and controls. The 3.9-inch profile complies with Americans with Disabilities clearance requirements for public buildings and the protective glass shield make the d82L a fit for high-traffic public spaces like transport hubs, in any light conditions.

5. Touch and multitouch screens are de rigueur, but what made X20 Media stand out is their XPresenter's Microsoft PowerPoint add-in. It allows end-users to build their own wayfinder maps for corporate facilities, campuses, airports, public venues, etc. End-users can import floor plans and create digital, interactive wayfinder maps. The maps can include a video or an image for both start and end points, and "on-the-go signage viewers" can e-mail directions to their mobile devices directly from the interactive screen, according to X20. In the spirit of sharing, we'll tack Planar's PT2285PW 22-inch Wide Projected Capacitive Multi-Touch Monitor in the #5 slot.

4. Cisco impressed us again this year with its Network-Aware Digital Media Player. The Cisco Digital Media Player 4310 is an aptly named smart media player that integrates Cisco medianet architecture technology and can automatically configure to a digital signage network at setup, saving time (and headaches). It combines network-based scalable technology with Adobe Flash to create a virtual canvas for any end-user's needs.

3. Many manufacturers showcased LED technology but what we liked about NEC's line of LEDs for indoor and outdoor apps was the theme of versatility. NEC showcased a control room scenario using NEC MultiSync X462UN monitors in combo with the video wall software Hiperwall. Hiperwall allows individual content such as images from different surveillance cameras or operating status information from a large industrial plant to be freely positioned, enlarged, or scaled down. Let's make product # 3.1 NEC's OPS (X461S, X551S and X551UN) and OPS (Open Pluggable Specification)-based PCs. The industry standard was developed in collaboration with Intel.

1. Small and mid-sized business end-users should check out LG's turnkey SuperSign Premier-s digital signage solution. The SuperSign Premier-S bundles a large-screen monitor and a NC2000 media player. It doesn't offer mobile interactivity yet. It doesn't launch rockets. But we liked the one-stop-shop approach vis-a-vis access to content management software, starter templates (big time saver), certified content providers as well as live CNN feeds. Budget conscious end-users should investigate the monthly subscription rates.Did you demo a digital signage product at DSE that warrants a mention? Let us know by emailing AVTIntern@nbmedia.com.