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Digital signage is the use of technology to display eye-catching and diverse content. It can be used for advertisement, menu display, and many other things to bring convenience and appeal to businesses.
Simply add the desired images and text to a PowerPoint, turn it into a video file, and download it to a USB stick. Then, plug the USB stick into a TV and start the video to create digital signage with a USB Stick.
Digital signage can add excitement to your business, and the best thing is that it is easy! Come learn more as we discuss how to create your own digital signage and what to look out for as you do.
The Best Option Actually Uses Amazon Firestick, Not USB
Digital signage using USB has been a go-to method for people for a long time. However, it's tedious and not a good use of time. When I was fed up with managing USB sticks all the time, I looked into other options. Fortunately, a great solution called Sign Presenter works on Amazon Firesticks, and that's my favorite option. It actually does work on Chromecast now, too, but I prefer the Firestick option.
Sign Presenter digital signage software was built to run on Amazon Firesticks (now Chromecast too), and it's my recommendation for most organizations that want to use digital signage. It's powerful, simple, and flexible even though it's cheaper than just about every other option.
Beyond the cost of the firesticks themselves, you'll want to sign up for a subscription to Sign Presenter and a license for each TV that is very affordable at $10/screen per month. With that, you get tons of features and a lot of flexibility, including:
- Use images, video, audio, and more
- Stream live video
- Schedule content to show
- Shuffle through content
- Pull in feeds of existing content
- Show TVs horizontal or vertical for your digital signage
- Continue showing digital signage without internet
- Create playlists to use over and over again
- Have multiple schedules for different playlists
If your business needs more than 50 screens, you may look to these other alternatives. If not, Sign Presenter is probably your best bet.
The Steps to Creating Digital Signage With a USB Stick
Creating digital signage can be accomplished with nothing more than a USB stick, a TV, and access to a computer. Following this guide, you can quickly and easily accomplish this DIY task.
Gather Everything You Need
This includes equipment and access to PowerPoint. If a version of PowerPoint is not installed on the computer you have access to, check with your local library. Additionally, Microsoft has a free version of PowerPoint online.
However, with the free version, you cannot export the PowerPoint as a video, requiring the extra step of converting it online, which will be detailed below.
Prepare for Success
Before arranging pictures, text, or anything else, it is important to ensure everything is set up properly. Start by going to Slide Design and checking the selected Slide Size. It should be at 16:9 to match the aspect ratio of the TV.
Create the Slideshow
Insert chosen pictures and text, keeping in mind that the entire slideshow will play on an uncontrolled loop. Try to keep things simple and eye-catching. Do not use complex or text-heavy slides, as it will be difficult for others to read quickly. An exception to this is when using a single, unchanging slide.
Assuming multiple slides will be used, the transition between slides becomes important. Select a transition type, such as Wipe, then set how long each slide should stay on the screen before changing to a new one using Duration.
Changing the Format
For those using the desktop version of PowerPoint, this step is simple. Go to File, click Export, then select Create a Video. For those working with the free online version, there is the additional step of using a PPTX to MP4 converter. Either way, make sure not to compress the file and that the video is saved in high quality.
Relocate the File to the USB Stick
Once the file has finished converting, copy and paste it onto the USB stick that will be plugged into the display. Once done, plug the USB stick into the display’s USB port and use the remote to select the USB. Then select the video file option, choose the video converted from your PowerPoint, and set it to loop.
Following the above steps will lead to an eye-catching visual display, one created to suit your individual needs. With the USB stick option for digital signage, there is no further hassle. Whether you eventually decide to delve deeper into the world of digital signage or not, this is a perfect, low-cost, DIY method to see if it is worthwhile for you.
The Benefits of This Method and Digital Signage
In today's world, technology is everywhere. While posters and notice boards still have their place, they do not stand out nearly as much as the multimedia alternative. Moreover, using the simple steps above, anyone can create an attractive, modern display with digital signage.
There is no need to worry about the complexity of setting it up, not knowing how to create content, or about the costs. It can be as easy as securing the right equipment, hitting copy and paste, and plugging in a USB stick.
The benefits of using a USB stick to create digital signage:
- Affordable: It requires little investment, making it the perfect place to start for those new to the concept and small businesses.
- Simplistic: Almost all modern TVs have built-in media players and USB slots, meaning not much is needed to set up something simple.
- Accessible: Requires very little technical knowledge. Unlike other options, it is simpler and more straightforward.
However, while a USB stick is a manageable place to start, other equipment is also necessary. Here is what is needed:
- USB Stick
- Wall Mount (optional)
- Access to a Computer and PowerPoint
While there are many options for a USB stick, not much storage space will be needed for digital signage. The PNY 32GB Turbo Attaché 3 USB 3.0 Flash Drive can be found for around 10 dollars and should be capable of handling the job.
If more storage capacity is needed, the PNY 64GB Turbo Attaché 3 USB 3.0 Flash Drive doubles the storage for a small increase in price, coming out to around 15 dollars.
Most modern TVs are capable of acting as the display for digital signage. They have built-in media players and USB slots, making setup a breeze. This makes using a spare TV a viable option. If a spare TV with the needed components is not available, there are affordable options:
- Insignia NS-32DF310NA19 32-inch Smart HD TV – Fire TV Edition: It has everything needed already built-in. For around 120 dollars, it provides 32 inches of space to display anything desired.
- All-New Insignia NS-43DF710NA21 43-inch Smart 4K UHD – Fire TV Edition: If you are looking for more display area, the 43-inch provides it for around 300 dollars. And, like the 32-inch model, the 43-inch has the built-in components necessary for digital signage.
A wall mount allows digital signage to be placed on almost any open surface, allowing for the use of space that would otherwise be left empty.
The Mounting Dream TV Wall Mount works for TVs between 26 and 55 inches, and it can be purchased for around 23 dollars. This is a perfect addition to place digital signage in a more eye-catching position with minimal effort and cost.
To create digital signage, computer access is a must. However, the USB requires minimal know-how and little time in front of a computer. The only things needed are the images you want to display and some basic use of PowerPoint.
Things to Consider
The first step is to decide what to display. Using a USB stick is simple in terms of setup and hardware, but there are limiting factors. When deciding what do put on your digital signage, consider these factors:
- Focus on images and text
- Think about what would work in a PowerPoint presentation
- Understand that this method can only loop material or create stationary displays
This method requires little beyond plugging in the USB stick and letting it run, but that also means it thrives on simplicity. Other limiting factors to consider are:
- A separate USB stick is required for each display
- USBs must be manually extracted and updated
- If there is a problem, it is impossible to know without seeing it in-person
The limiting factors could be difficult to manage for those looking to set up many displays or displays in various places. However, the pros far outweigh the cons for those looking for a small DIY option.
Anyone can bring digital signage into their workplace or home. Using a USB stick is an affordable and accessible option that serves as a perfect introductory or DIY option for small businesses and those looking for an updated image. With easy setup and minimal effort, there is no reason not to explore this eye-catching option.