What You Need to Know Before Building Digital Signage

By: Adam Swimmer

6 Min Read

21 Jun, 2022

In the era of smart homes and offices, it seems that digital displays are all around us. But what makes a good digital signage? You will want to think about a number of things, such as the digital signage’s functionality, features and how you wish to display the content. Here’s an overview of what you need to consider when building a digital signage setup or improving the one you already have.

What do you want to display?

The first thing to consider is what kind of content you wish to display on the digital signage and who is your audience? Are you showing the weather, news, company updates or is the content more advertising-oriented to inform the public about events or products?

Answering this will help to determine what size of a display to use. If you desire a billboard-style display so that a large group of people can consume your content all at once, then you will likely need a TV, smart monitor, or something even bigger.

However, in many situations, a tablet can serve your needs. A 10-inch screen is a good size for most content found on digital signage. Tablets are also considerably cheaper than televisions, even if you opt for a high-end device.

Tablets offer the additional advantage of allowing for the experience to be interactive as the person can interact with the device’s touchscreen to get the most out of what is being displayed.

Does the content require routine updating?

Does the content displayed by the digital signage change or is it static? If the information needs to be updated on a regular basis, there are a couple of ways to do it.

Some smart TVs feature USB ports so you could run the content off of a thumb drive. So if you are using them for digital signage, you could swap out thumb drives if you needed to change what was being displayed. However, the more logical solution would be to update the content through a network connection. Both tablets and smart TVs have Wi-Fi chips built in but, for more reliability, it’s better to use a wired network connection. Wi-Fi can be spotty, especially if the tablet is far from the router or it’s competing for a wireless connection with several other devices.

Some TVs also come with Ethernet ports but the majority of tablets don’t. This is why it useful to connect the tablet to a mobile Ethernet adapter, such as one from LAVA. 

LAVA SimulCharge adapters provide compatible Android mobile devices with simultaneous charging and access to data. This means the tablet’s battery won’t die while it is in use. These adapters come in various port configurations, including Ethernet. 

You simply run the Ethernet cable from the adapter to the router or network switch and you connect the adapter to the tablet via its USB-C or Micro USB port. You can even run the Ethernet cable to areas where Wi-Fi is weak, such as outdoor festival locations or industrial kitchens where the metal can interfere with the signal.

LAVA SimulCharge Ethernet adapters provide a Fast Ethernet (10/100 Mbps) network connection to the tablet. If you are using a compatible Samsung tablet, LAVA’s top-tier e Series SimulCharge adapters include a Network Recovery feature that can restart the network connection if it unexpectedly drops out, providing even more stability. Using an Ethernet adapter is often a cost-effective solution as most commercial buildings already have Ethernet as part of their infrastructure.

Where do you want to place the digital signage?

Will the digital signage be in a big open area or a small space, such as an elevator?  If it’s the latter, using a tablet provides the obvious advantage as its smaller form factor allows it to be mounted in places many smart monitors can’t.

Another thing to think about is how close will the signage be to power? If there aren’t AC electrical outlets nearby, it would be difficult to use a TV or smart monitor for your signage.

However, with the tablet, you could opt to use a Power over Ethernet (PoE) adapter, which would provide it with power and data over the same Ethernet cable. This simplifies cable management as it eliminates the need for a separate electrical cable for the adapter.

If you are installing your digital signage in a commercial building, as mentioned above, there’s a good chance it already has the infrastructure for Ethernet, if not PoE, making the setup easier. You can’t get PoE from a standard Ethernet connection. The adapter needs to be connected to a PoE-capable network switch. However, with a third-party PoE injector, you can turn a regular wired network connection into PoE.

PoE provides you with a distance power advantage, giving you more options on where to place the tablet. A LAVA SimulCharge PoE adapter can be installed up to 328 feet (100 meters) from the power source. This means you can install the tablet where electrical outlets are limited, such as in outdoor settings. Because PoE uses low-voltage DC power, you can also do the setup yourself and don’t need to hire an electrician to install dedicated AC power lines.

Even if you have existing tablet-based digital signage, it may be useful to upgrade to PoE.

Will your signage be running 24/7?

Using a tablet for digital signage can be problematic in a setup where it’s running 24 hours a day, seven days a week. Obviously, if it’s running off of battery power, it will likely die within a day or two. However, having it plugged in to charge all the time can also be a problem.

Unlike with TVs and smart monitors, which are solely powered through an AC electrical outlet, a tablet will overcharge if it’s left plugged in too long. This degrades the battery over time, lowering its charge capacity. In extreme cases, this can lead to battery bloating, where the tablet’s battery literally swells and can severely damage the device. 

Using a LAVA adapter, you can prevent these battery issues from occurring in your digital signage setup. LAVA’s e Series adapters provide overcharge protection through its Battery Modulation technology. Configured through the free LAVA Tablet Manager (LTM) app, which must be installed on the tablet, it ensures the tablet’s battery never exceeds 100%. Modulating the charge extends the lifespan of the battery, giving you more years of use out of the tablet for a better return on investment.

Do you need USB peripherals?

Typically, you won’t need to attach USB peripherals for digital signage, save for a USB thumb drive if you chose to update the content that way. However, if you wanted the tablet to be multi-purpose, such as serving as both digital signage and a staff time-clock, you might want to be able to add a card reader or scanner.

LAVA has options for standalone SimulCharge USB hub adapters, as well as ones with Ethernet and PoE, so you don’t have to lose any functionality when you choose to add USB-A ports to your digital signage setup.

Hopefully, this article has helped you understand why an Android tablet can be an excellent choice for digital signage, as it offers versatility and customization – especially when it’s paired with the right adapter. LAVA SimulCharge adapters provide options for PoE, Ethernet, USB-A ports and battery protection technology.

For more information about LAVA’s products, please see our website or give us a call at 1-800-241-5282 and we would be happy to help.