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Digital signage, a fairly recent innovation in the world of signage, started out as an excellent tool for advertisers, educators, corporate offices, public services, and retailers to display engaging and relevant information. However, as technology has expanded, more hobbyists have started using digital signage for their own DIY projects.

The Raspberry Pi software piSignage is an effective tool for hobbyists looking to incorporate digital signage in their DIY projects and professionals looking for excellent digital signage software. Raspberry Pi is noted for its affordable pricing, reliable security, energy efficiency, and the popularity of its products.

Now, if you would like to start using Raspberry Pi for your digital signage needs, there is plenty that you should know about the computer and about digital signage before you begin. Keep reading if you would like to learn more about Raspberry Pi computers, piSignage software, and digital signage.

What is Raspberry Pi?

You can’t use maximize all of what Raspberry Pi has to offer without a full understanding of what Raspberry Pi is. So let’s dive in!

Raspberry Pi refers to a series of credit card-sized, single-board computers developed by the Raspberry Pi Foundation and Broadcom. The first Raspberry Pi computer was released in 2012.

These computers were manufactured in the United Kingdom with computer science education as its primary intention, but the computers have become incredibly popular and have expanded their manufacturing to China and Japan.

This increase in popularity and manufacturing has led to a long list of Raspberry Pi computers in a fairly short amount of time. Here is a comprehensive list of all of the computers Raspberry Pi has released over the past eight years.

  • Raspberry Pi Zero
  • Raspberry Pi Zero W
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+
  • Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+
  • Raspberry Pi 2 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+
  • Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+
  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B
  • Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit
  • Raspberry Pi 400 Unit
  • Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit

In just three years, over 5 million of the original Raspberry Pi model had been sold, making it the all-time best-selling computer manufactured in the United Kingdom. This success has continued as over 30 million Raspberry Pi computers have been sold. Let’s take a closer look at each Raspberry Pi model and see what makes these tiny computers so vastly popular.

Raspberry Pi Zero

The Raspberry Pi Zero computer was released in November 2015 with the intention of providing a smaller, cost-effective option with twice the utility of the original Raspberry Pi model. 

Although it has since been succeeded by subsequent iterations of itself, the original Raspberry Pi Zero features impressive specifications.

  • 512MB RAM
  • 1GHz Single-Core CPU
  • Micro USB Power
  • Micro USB OTG Port
  • Composite Video and Reset Headers
  • CSI Camera Connector
  • HAT-Compatible 40-Pin Header

This computer is certainly the most affordable Raspberry Pi option. You can purchase a Raspberry Pi Zero computer for just $5.

Raspberry Pi Zero W

The Raspberry Pi Zero W computer was released in February 2017 to provide a version of the Raspberry Pi Zero with Wi-Fi and Bluetooth capabilities. 

This option has all of the functionality of the original Pi Zero, but with the added Wi-Fi and Bluetooth functionality, the Raspberry Pi Zero W is a noticeable upgrade.

  • 802.11 b/g/n Wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 4.1
  • Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • 512MB RAM
  • 1GHz Single-Core CPU
  • Micro USB Power
  • Micro USB OTG Port
  • Composite Video and Reset Headers
  • CSI Camera Connector
  • HAT-Compatible 40-Pin Header

This computer may come with added functionality, but that is not without a slightly higher price tag. The Raspberry Pi Zero W can be purchased for $10.

Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+

The Raspberry Pi Model A+ computer was released in November 2014 as an improved version of the A-model of the original Raspberry Pi computer. 

This version possesses impressive specifications, including a number of noticeable improvements when compared to the basic Raspberry Pi Model A. These improvements are listed below.

  • Better Audio
  • Smaller Neater Form Factor
  • Less Power Consumption
  • Nicer Micro SD Slot
  • More GPIO Pins

This computer is the low-cost version of the mainline of Raspberry Pi computers, which does not include the Raspberry Pi Zero or Zero W. It is priced at roughly $25.

Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+

The Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ computer was released in July 2014 as the final revision of the original Raspberry Pi computer that was released in 2012. 

This is the best version of the original Raspberry Pi computer and is the only Model B version that continues to be manufactured. It still features impressive specifications that compare well to Raspberry Pi’s other computers.

  • 40 GPIO Pins
  • Micro SD Card Slot
  • 4 USB Ports
  • Low-Noise Power Supply Audio Circuit
  • 100 Base Ethernet
  • 0.5W to 1W of Power Consumption

This computer is slightly more expensive than the Model A+ version. It is generally priced between $28 and $35.

Raspberry Pi 2 Model B

The Raspberry Pi 2 Model B computer was released in February 2015 as the first second-generation model of Raspberry Pi computers. 

Although most of the specifications between the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+ and Raspberry Pi 2 Model B remain the same, the ultimate distinction comes in the added CPU and RAM power of this model.

  • 1GB RAM
  • 900MHz Quad-Core ARM Cortex-A7 CPU
  • 4 USB Ports
  • 40 GPIO Pins
  • HDMI Port
  • Camera Interface
  • Display Interface
  • Micro SD Card Slot
  • 100 Base Ethernet

This model is priced around the same as the Raspberry Pi 1 Model B+. It is generally priced at around $35.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B computer was released in February 2016 as the successor to the Raspberry Pi 2 Model B and the first third-generation Raspberry Pi computer. 

Although this model has been superseded by improved models and future generations, the Raspberry Pi 3 Model B features impressive specifications that improve upon all previous Raspberry Pi models.

  • 1GB RAM
  • Quad Core 1.2GHz Broadcom BCM2837 64bit CPU
  • 100 Base Ethernet
  • BCM43438 Wireless LAN and Bluetooth Low Energy (BLE)
  • 40 Extended GPIO Pins
  • 4 USB 2 ports
  • Full-Size HDMI Port
  • 4 Pole Stereo Output and Composite Video Port

This model also costs roughly the same as its two closest predecessors. It is generally priced around $35.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model B+ computer was released in March 2018 as the final revision to the third generation of Raspberry Pi computers. 

This version does not contain any noticeable changes to its specifications. However, its RAM, Bluetooth, Ethernet, and CPU power are certainly improved beyond that of its predecessors.

  • Broadcom BCM2837B0, Cortex-A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.4GHz
  • 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • 2.4GHz and 5GHz IEEE 802.11.b/g/n/ac Wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.2 BLE
  • Gigabit Ethernet Over USB 2.0
  • 5V/2.5A DC Power Input

This model is also priced similarly to its closest predecessors. It is generally priced at $35.

Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+

The Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ computer was released in November 2018 as the mechanical successor to the Raspberry Pi 1 Model A+. This model essentially features the same mechanical structure as that model with improved specifications.

  • Broadcom BCM2837B0, Cortex-A53 (ARMv8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.4GHz
  • 1GB LPDDR2 SDRAM
  • 2.4GHz and 5GHz IEEE 802.11.b/g/n/ac Wireless LAN, Bluetooth 4.2 BLE
  • Full-size HDMI
  • Single USB 2.0 Ports
  • 4-Pole Stereo Output and Composite Video Port
  • Micro SD Card Port
  • 5V/2.5A DC Power Input

Although the Raspberry Pi 3 Model A+ is an improved version of its predecessor, it is priced roughly the same and significantly cheaper than other Raspberry Pi 3 models. It is generally priced around $25.

Raspberry Pi 4 Model B

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B computer was released in June 2019 as the first fourth-generation iteration of Raspberry Pi computers. This generation of Raspberry Pi computers features palpable improvements in regard to its specifications, which will be detailed in the list below.

  • 2GB, 4GB or 8GB LPDDR4-3200 SDRAM
  • 2.4GHz and 5.0GHz IEEE 802.11ac Wireless, Bluetooth 5.0 BLE
  • Broadcom BCM2711, Quad Core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.5GHz
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 USB 3.0 Ports, 2 USB 2.0 Ports
  • 2 Micro-HDMI Ports
  • 2-Lane MIPI DSI Display Port
  • 2-Lane MIPI CSI Camera Port
  • OpenGL ES 3.0 Graphics
  • Micro SD Card Slot
  • 5V DC via USB-C Connector
  • 5V DC via GPIO Header
  • 4-Pole Stereo Audio and Composite Video Port

The Raspberry Pi 4 Model B certainly possesses a ton of exciting, new features. However, its price is markedly similar to that of its predecessors. This computer is generally priced around $35.

Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit

Digital signage using raspberry pi
Image via RaspberryPi.org

The Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit was released simultaneously with the Raspberry Pi 4 Model B in June 2019. It contains a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B computer as well as several additional tools that work with the computer. These tools will be detailed in the list below.

  • Raspberry Pi 4 Model B (2GB, 4GB, and 8GB versions)
  • Raspberry Pi Keyboard
  • Raspberry Pi Mouse
  • 2 Micro-HDMI to Standard-HDMI 1m Cables
  • Raspberry Pi 15.3W USB-C Power Supply
  • Raspberry Pi 4 Case
  • Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guise
  • 16GB NOOBS with Raspberry Pi OS MicroSD Card

The Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit features an abundance of additional tools to go along with a Raspberry Pi 4 Model B computer. These additional tools do come at a fairly hefty price. The desktop kit is generally priced around $120.

Raspberry Pi 400 Unit

The Raspberry Pi 400 Unit was released in November 2020 with perhaps the greatest leap in quality and in content that any Raspberry Pi computer has had in comparison to its predecessor. 

The Raspberry Pi 400 not only features improved specifications, but the computer is built into a compact keyboard and features even more additional tools like the desktop kit.

  • 4GB LPDDR4-3200
  • Dual-Band (2.4GHz and 5.0GHz) IEEE 802.11b/g/n/ac Wireless LAN
  • Bluetooth 5.0 BLE
  • Broadcam BCM2711 Quad-Core Cortex-A72 (ARM v8) 64-bit SoC @ 1.8GHz
  • Gigabit Ethernet
  • 2 USB 3.0 and 1 USB 2.0 Ports
  • Horizontal 40-Pin GPIO Header
  • 2 Micro HDMI Ports
  • MicroSD Card Slot
  • 5V DC via USB Connector

The Raspberry Pi 400 Unit features a great number of additional tools and improved specifications. However, this unit is actually slightly more affordable than the desktop kit. This unit is typically priced at around $100.

Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit

The Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit was released simultaneously with the Raspberry Pi 400 Unit and is essentially the successive product to the Raspberry Pi 4 Desktop Kit. 

This product includes a Raspberry Pi 400 Unit, still built into a keyboard, but features even more additional tools than the basic Raspberry Pi 400 Unit. These tools are detailed in the list below.

  • Raspberry Pi Mouse
  • Power Supply
  • Micro HDMI to HDMI Cable
  • SD Card Preloaded with Raspberry Pi OS
  • Official Raspberry Pi Beginner’s Guide

The Raspberry Pi 400 Personal Computer Kit is the most advanced version of Raspberry Pi computers, which also makes it the most expensive. This computer kit is generally priced at around $160.

Digital Signage Using piSignage

Now that we have thoroughly detailed the many computers that Raspberry Pi has manufactured let’s take a look at the other products that Raspberry Pi offers. 

In particular, let’s take a look at their digital signage software that can be used on any of their computers, piSignage.

piSignage is an affordable, effective digital signage tool that allows businesses to control their network of screens and display centrally through cloud-based storage. 

The software is used for a variety of purposes, such as retail promotion, advertising, corporate communication, dashboards, educational purposes, and even restaurant menus.

This software is particularly noted for its affordability, with its player license priced at $25 and its hosting fee priced at only $20 per month. There is also an open-source version of the software available to those who are looking for even more customizability in their digital signage software.

Although piSignage is certainly an effective tool for digital signage implementation, it is certainly not the only software that is assigned with getting digital signage to function properly. Let’s take a look at some of the other popular digital signage software brands on the market and see how piSignage stacks up against them.

SoftwareContent SchedulingMulti-Screen SupportVisual EditorAutomatic Player UpdatesMedia LibraryRemote Display Mgmt.Pricing(Starting /Annual)
EnplugYesYesYesYesYesYes$32/$384
REACHYesYesYesYesYesYes$30/$360
ScreenScapeYesYesYesYesYesYes$40/$480
piSignageYesYesNoYesNoYes$25/$20

The data in this table was compiled from statistics presented by Capterra.

Raspberry Pi vs. the Others

While piSignage is certainly priced at a more affordable rate than its competitors, the Raspberry Pi digital signage software does not possess all of the same features that its competitors do. 

However, this does not mean that you should rule out piSignage as a digital signage software option. On the contrary, this simply points out that each software offers different advantages and different disadvantages.

Let’s take a closer look at what each digital signage software has to offer.

The Pros and Cons of piSignage

As one of the most affordable digital signage software options on the market, piSignage is often viewed as the perfect option for hobbyists and businesses that are looking for an entry point into the world of digital signage. 

Although this is certainly true, there are plenty of other facets to piSignage that make it a viable option for anyone with interest in digital signage. First, let’s take a look at the pros associated with piSignage.

Pros

Apart from its affordability, piSignage is an extremely flexible digital signage software. You can choose your own hardware to support the software, choose how to manage your display network, and source your content with your own media sourcing applications.

The software also comes with 15 inbuilt layout templates and allows you to upload your own custom templates. piSignage is cloud-based software, so there is plenty of storage space for any custom templates.

Finally, piSignage is highly regarded for its intuitive user interface. This is a major reason why novice digital signage hobbyists and businesses looking for entry-level digital signage software choose piSignage.

Cons

The most blaring disadvantage to using piSignage is its lack of a built-in media library or video editor. 

This means you will have to source all your content on your own time, using your own applications, and your own, or hired, content creation skills. The software is also not supported on iOS but is supported on Windows and Android.

The Pros and Cons of ScreenScape

ScreenScape is a digital signage software that, like piSignage, is cloud-based. However, ScreenScape extends beyond piSignage in terms of its functionality as a video editor as well as its comprehensive built-in media library. Let’s take a look at all of the ways that ScreenScape differs from piSignage and its competitors.

First, let’s take a look at the pros associated with ScreenScape.

Pros

ScreenScape’s greatest advantage is that it is cloud-based like piSignage and offers all of the features that piSignage does not offer, like an in-built media library and video editor. The software’s user interface has also been noted for being particularly intuitive.

This software is specifically desired by businesses for its speed in creating and broadcasting content on its network of displays. There is no delay between the publication of content and the displaying of this content.

Cons

The biggest drawback to using ScreenScape is its pricing. At $480 annually, ScreenScape is the most expensive digital signage software options listed in this article and one of the more expensive options on the market. There is also no free trial offered before purchase, which is a feature almost all of its competitors provide.

Finally, ScreenScape is entirely web-based, which means it is not supported on iOS or Android devices. 

The Pros and Cons of REACH

REACH is a popular digital signage software that, like ScreenScape, possesses incredibly handy features like a built-in video editor and comprehensive media library to pull from. However, this digital signage software is particularly noted for its ease of use. Let’s take a look at some of the other ways REACH stands out amongst its competitors.

First, let’s take a look at the pros associated with REACH

Pros

REACH possesses most of the same features that ScreenScape does, such as an inbuilt video editor and media library, that separate it from piSignage. However, its most distinct advantages are evident in REACH’s ease of use and customer support. 

Many users of REACH commend the company for its helpful and easily reachable customer service representatives. This, along with the software’s simplicity, has allowed users to troubleshoot their software effectively and efficiently, leaving less time wasted.

Cons

Like ScreenScape, REACH is also a web-based system, which means it is not available on iOS or Android. This can also lead to clunky response times for content updates, caching concerns, and other varying issues. 

The Pros and Cons of Enplug

Enplug is one of the most well-known digital signage software brands in the world, although this might have as much to do with its uniqueness as a software as it has to do with its unique company culture. 12 of the 37 total Enplug employees all live in the same house, which caught the attention of mainstream publications in 2013.

Let’s take a look at what sets Enplug apart from its competitors, besides its unique company culture. First, let’s take a look at the pros associated with Enplug.

Pros

Enplug, like ScreenScape, is unique in the varying features that it offers its users. There are countless templates that Enplug offers, including live social media walls that allow brands to display their live Instagram, Twitter, or Facebook feeds. Enplug also offers fully customizable color themes for your designs and content.

Additionally, Enplug supports multiple display orientations (horizontal, vertical) and HD/4K content. This allows Enplug to support a wider range of content.

Most importantly, Enplug is compatible with both iOS and Android devices.

Cons

Although Enplug is more cost-effective than ScreenScape, it is still one of the more expensive digital signage options on the market. However, this is the only real mark against Enplug.

Why Digital Signage?

Now that we have compared some of the most popular digital signage software options on the market let’s take a closer look at what digital signage actually is and why you may want to use it. 

Digital signage is something that we all encounter on a regular basis. Its prevalence actually makes digital signage blend in with the other symbols of modernization present in major cities. This unawareness often leads to ignorance regarding digital signage as a concept.

To properly define digital signage, we must first define signage. Signage refers to any signs or symbols which are used to convey a message. As modern technology has entered the signage world, signage now encompasses digital and electronic signs or digital signage. 

Digital signage is a subsect of signage that uses projection, LED, or LCD technology to display content that generally could not be displayed on static signs.

Improving Digital Signage with Raspberry Pi

Digital signage is able to display modes of content like video, graphics, and interactive media that static signage is simply incapable of displaying. As a result, digital signage is slightly more complex than static signage. 

Digital signage can use these modes of content for a variety of different reasons. As mentioned above, these modes can include displays such as videos, interactive media, weather data, and many more examples that would not exist under the limitations of static signage. 

Let’s take a look at the various reasons for using digital signage in the modern world.

  • Restaurants: Examples of digital signage being used in restaurants can include self-serving and self-ordering kiosks, digital menus, and digital entertainment within the restaurant.
  • Educational Purposes: Examples of digital signage being used for educational purposes can include interactive and visual demonstrations or lessons taught by the teacher or by a third party.
  • Public Services: Examples of digital signage being used as public services can include local information related to weather, news, traffic, and even maps services.
  • Corporate Communication: Examples of digital signage being used in corporate offices can include conference room booking, meeting information, and training modules or assistance.
  • Tourism: Examples of digital signage being used for tourism can include interactive maps, information regarding popular tourist destinations, and information regarding the city or country in general.
  • Retail Promotions or Assistance: Examples of digital signage being used in or for retail businesses can include self-serving kiosks, advertisements, visual displays, and interactive displays.
  • Marketing and Advertising: Examples of digital signage being used for advertising can include videos, digital images, scrolling pages, or interactive advertisements.

Final Thoughts

At the end of this article, you should know more about the various types of Raspberry Pi computers, the definition and purpose of digital signage, and the advantages and disadvantages of various digital signage software options on the market.

Ultimately, the best way to get an understanding of all of these questions is to go out and try out digital signage software for yourself.