Cisco Digital Signage Demo – digital signage portal
Last month, we were excited when we were approached and invited by a Cisco’s Product Sales Specialist (Emerging Technologies) to attend a meeting at their head office in North Sydney Australia. To cut a long story short, the Product Sales Specialist landed on our digital signage portal website (www.digitalsignageportal.com) and wanted to talk to Advertise Me about the direction of the website and Cisco’s digital signage products. We were keen to understand more about Cisco’s digital signage presence in the industry and because Cisco is an International and reputable company, we couldn’t say no.
We obviously won’t be able to tell you exactly what we discussed in the meeting but it was quite interesting to understand Cisco’s digital signage products and company’s direction in the digital signage industry.
Early last year, I was reading an article about Cisco’s acquisition of a company called Tivella. I’ve never actually heard of this company in the past, but Cisco saw enormous potential for digital signage to be integrated into its existing enterprise streaming and live video broadcasting system and hence the acquisition.
There are two models of the Cisco Digital Media Player (4400G and 4305G). In the demonstration we only had the opportunity to see the 4305G but the main differences between the two models are as follows:
Number of USB ports
Adobe Flash Support
7.5 x 5 x 1.5 in. (190 x 127 x 38 mm); weighs 1 lb (0.45 kg)
10 x 8 x 2 in. (254 x 203 x 51 mm); weighs 4.5 lb (2 kg)
Video MPEG4 Part 2: Advanced Simple Profile at Level 5
Video MPEG4 Part 10 Baseline and Main profiles
Now, the great feature about this unit is that it supports the HDMI video connector – meaning it is able to play High Definition video. This is actually the first small form factor unit (with no moving parts) we have ever encountered that has a HDMI connector. The other great thing about these units is that it comes with a remote control. Yes… a remote control unit which enables people who are interfacing with the digital signage player to control and browse through the content displayed on the screen. The overall system can also be used as a Video On Demand solution, so it’s ideal in hotels and corporate environments.
During the demonstration we actually saw a live streaming video feed from the US and the video quality was awesome. We found it difficult to distinguish whether it was a live streaming video feed or not because the quality was crisp and the video didn’t appear to have any lag or jitter – we were very impressed with this technology. Basically, we were advised that Cisco’s digital signage players actually use 2 video rendering chips – most other digital signage players use software video rending.
Cisco Digital Media Manager is the backbone system for managing, scheduling and publishing content to the Digital Media Systems (Digital Signage, Enterprise TV, and desktop video). It has a great tool to create the digital signage content. It’s actually all web based (java based to be exact). The application enables content owners to easily upload, catalogue, edit, package and publish digital media content for live or on-demand playback.
The only downsides we saw with Cisco’s Digital Signage solution are:
- Proof of play reporting. The unit doesn’t actually provide a detailed report on what content was played. Just keep in mind that Cisco developed these units for the corporate environment and not retail.
- The overall solution is quite expensive – we were told that a typical digital signage solution would cost around the $80k – $100k mark
Here are a couple of pointers that we took away from the meeting and the demonstration:
- Cisco doesn’t just sell switches, firewall and routers. They have a large product range that includes equipment such as wireless CCTV cameras, Video encoders, Desktop Video, and the list goes on
- With the convergence of voice, data and IP video technology there is an increasing dependency for a stable network infrastructure and this is where Cisco can also help
- The Cisco Digital Media solution is scalable and has been designed so that it can be integrated with other systems eg Microsoft Outlook
- Cisco Australia is interested in the direction of the digital signage portal and wants to be more involved in this area
- We found the solution to have good value in the digital signage market and we intend to work with Cisco and Cisco’s channel partners
Finally, here’s a Cisco product video for the Digital Media Player:
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