Digital Signage VS TV: Which Option Is Best For You?


Businesses around the world are taking advantage of digital signage and TVs to help customers choose their orders, navigate through airports and malls, and so much more. Digital signage is helpful for both the company and the consumers. It is a win-win. But, you might be wondering whether your business should invest in digital signage displays or TVs.

Most companies prefer to use digital signage instead of TVs because digital signage is more:

  • Cost-effective
  • Customizable
  • Interactive

This article delves into the advantages and disadvantages of digital signage displays and televisions so that you can make an informed decision about the right screens for your company. Read on to find out more about each option and the most common uses for them, respectively. 

Comparing Digital Signage and TVs

The main difference between the two is that a television has more built-in capabilities than a digital sign. Think of a digital sign as a computer monitor. A television can be programmed to perform certain functions and also display your content. In contrast, a digital sign needs modifications or additional hardware in order to have the same range of features as a television. 

However, the need for additional hardware and software also means that digital signage has a far more extensive range of functions than a television. You cannot beat a TV when it comes to streaming videos and similar digital entertainment in high definition, but digital signage can be interactive, which TVs cannot.

Companies generally prefer to take on the associated costs of programming and installing digital signage instead of TVs in order to take advantage of their flexible nature and the ease of switching out their content when they want a change. There is specialized software to modify TVs, but it can be challenging to find and expensive when you do.

That being said, if the purpose of your display is to stream a commercial for your company, the news, music videos, or other video content that has sound, TVs might be the right choice for your business. They have a much lower initial cost too. We will explore the pros and cons of digital signage and televisions below. 

Commercial Digital Signage

As noted above, commercial digital signage is essentially a display screen. However, since digital signage does not come with automated capabilities, that allows you to modify or customize it in ways that are not available to televisions. The world is your oyster with commercial digital signage, and you can do what you want with it. 

You can choose between various types of screens depending on their purpose. You might want to get a digital sign for an interactive kiosk, which would be a touchscreen. If you plan to put the sign outside, you should look for an LED screen that has high contrast and a bright display. If the sign is inside, you can stick with a cheaper LCD screen. 

When it comes to plugging your content into the digital signage, you typically have a few different port options. Unlike TVs, which usually only accept HDMI cables, digital signage often has various types of ports to allow for multiple connections between your media player and the sign itself. 

Digital signage often carries longer and more comprehensive warranties to cover commercial use, unlike consumer TVs. If you plan to have your display outside or are worried about the screen getting damaged through interactivity, that warranty can be a real lifesaver. However, you should always check it carefully to understand exactly what it covers. 

Pros

One of the best benefits of digital signage is the capability for interactivity. There are plenty of options to choose from for a sturdy, durable touch screen so that your customers can easily find the location they are headed toward or place their order at a restaurant from the comfort of their table without waiting for a waiter to come over. 

Digital signage screens rely entirely on the software you have installed in order to read and display content. That makes it easy for you to switch things up. Once you have new content ready to display on your screen, it is often a simple task to change the display and show off your excellent new content instead. 

Another good thing about digital signage is the storage capabilities. Depending on the media player you select for your digital signage, you might be able to store multiple pieces of content and set it to rotate through those pieces so that customers never get bored by seeing the same advertisement again and again. 

Finally, digital signage is highly customizable. Whether you want to have a revolving series of pictures, display current information about the company in real-time, or play a series of video clips, your digital signage can handle it. Your choice of media player will allow you to do just about anything under the sun with digital signage. 

Cons

Compared to TVs, digital signage is quite a bit more expensive. Although they have more flexibility overall, the modifications and customizations required to get the digital signage to run your content might be prohibitively expensive. Your company will need to be prepared to lay out a large sum initially when you purchase the hardware, software, and installation. 

All of the possibilities for software and hardware can also be difficult to decide between. You will need to spend a fair amount of time researching your options to select the right media player and other necessary things to stream your content smoothly onto the display. The preparations for a digital sign are much more extensive than with a TV.

Additionally, you will need to monitor the amount of information or content expressed on your digital signage. Because it is just a screen, you can have a video in one corner and text in another, and so on. This can completely overwhelm potential customers and make it too hard to focus on any one part of the sign. 

Maintenance may also be expensive and time-consuming for your digital signage. Depending on how tech-savvy you or your employees are, you might have to hire professional services to come to service your digital signage on a regular basis. The type of media player you use may also mean that you need to train your staff to operate the digital signs.

ProsCons
Highly customizableHigh initial cost
Can be interactiveCould overwhelm viewers
Can store multiple reels of contentMay require additional staff training.
Easy to switch out the contentTime-consuming

TVs As Commercial Displays

Televisions are an integral part of most people’s homes. Our familiarity with them is a great way to ensure that your employees will be able to work your displays and keep them functioning correctly. TVs also have more built-in functions than digital signage, which might be useful, especially if you want the sound to accompany your advertisement. 

Companies prefer to use digital signage instead of TVs because digital signage is made explicitly for businesses and can withstand the pressures of high performance at all times. Despite that, TVs can still be used as commercial displays and might be the right choice if your business cannot afford the high entry cost to digital signage.

Another consideration is connecting your display with your content. Keep in mind that the majority of TVs produced nowadays only have HDMI ports. You will need to ensure that you can connect your content through an HDMI cable in order to use a TV as a commercial display. You might need an attachment to modify the cable, depending on the media player. 

If you decide to use TVs as commercial displays, you will need to check the manufacturer’s wording on the warranty. Many warranties only cover consumer use and not commercial use. If something happens to your TV when using it in a commercial capacity, you might find that the warranty does not apply. 

Pros

As many of us know from owning televisions in our homes, TVs are capable of producing sound. Sound is a built-in attribute that you do not need to install or buy hardware for with a TV separately; the audio is already there. If you want to play video clips with sound, a TV is much more convenient than digital signage.

Similarly, TVs are more comfortable to operate because most people are so accustomed to owning them. Unlike complicated hardware for digital signage, you likely will not need to make time for separate employee training to teach your staff how to work the TV displays or how to change out the content when needed. 

If you are using TVs as your display system saves your company money. You likely do not need to purchase separate hardware or software in order to get the TV to display your advertisement because it is more than just a screen. The fact that it is an all-in-one functioning device is much more cost-effective if you plan to purchase a lot of screens at once.

Your TV screen allows you to mess with the display in order to make it brighter or dimmer depending on its location. This might not sound like much of an advantage, but if your screens are outside in the bright sun, the ability to increase the brightness might make the difference between customers squinting at your screen or reading your advertisement. 

Cons

While the initial cost of TVs is much less than digital signage, you will notice that you are actually paying quite a bit of money to power the TV over time. Since it has more capabilities than a digital sign and is likely producing sound, it eats up more power while it is on. Your electric bills may not seem as worth it after a few months.

Not to mention the fact that TVs are not as environmentally-friendly as digital signage because they use so much more power. If your company is environmentally conscious, the high power use may mean more than expensive electricity bills. The constant power drain can really add up quickly in the long run. 

They are not customizable in the same way as digital signage. Because a TV comes with programmed functions, it is quite difficult to get it to do anything else. That is both a good thing and a bad thing when it comes to using them as advertising displays. You will not be able to install software into the TV to let it perform alternate functions.

You might also see issues with the longevity of your TV displays. The combination of constant sound and brighter displays is not only a major power suck, but it can also decrease the amount of time your TV display can function before needing maintenance. In a similar vein, TV displays are often outside, and the weather can cause damage to the screen. 

ProsCons
A less expensive initial setup.Shorter lifespan
Built-in functionalityNot customizable
Brighter displaysMore expensive over time
Built-in audio systemsLess environmentally-friendly

Digital Signage VS TV: Choosing The Right Display

When most people talk about commercial signage, they mean everything from static billboard ads to dynamic, interactive signs at the airport directing you to the correct terminal. Typically, commercial signage is used for advertising for a specific business, but it can also be a navigation tool, or information presenter, depending on its location. 

As an example of an advertisement, a potential customer might see a flashing sign outside of a store, informing them of a major sale event happening right now. Alternatively, a customer in a drive-thru can observe the digital displays by their car to decide what to order. The benefit of using a digital display is that you can change the content easily, say from breakfast to lunch.

However, commercial displays can also be much more complex than a changing static image. Some trendy stores enjoy playing music videos while their customers nod along to the beat or try to buy outfits to match the performer on-screen. Other displays allow clients to use them as touchscreens, reserve a room, or order off the menu.

When you are outlining your advertising campaign for your displays, you will need to have a firm grasp of your technology’s capabilities. There are many variables to consider when deciding between digital signage and televisions as the primary mode of display for your company, but the main six aspects to think about are:

  • Purpose
  • Format
  • Interactivity
  • Location
  • Size
  • Media Player

Purpose

When choosing the right display for your business, you will first need to consider the purpose of the display. Are you advertising a product or service? Are you providing a means of helping people find their way around a mall? Or are you using the displays to inform? For example, a display might tell you if a conference room is in use and how long they booked it for.

Digital signage and televisions can be used in a wide variety of ways to meet your company’s needs. It does not need to be customer-facing either. Some companies like to use digital signage within the company offices to show current information about the business like sales or stock market rates. They can also display inspirational quotes or funny pictures.

You can use displays to show important information, such as the day’s predicted weather or upcoming events. Alternatively, displays can show customer reviews, tags for the company on social media sites like Instagram or Twitter, or other pictures. Displays can inform guests about the rules to the building or hotel room too.

Displays can also be life-saving features within your building. They can alert customers and employees if a fire alarm or an earthquake is happening and direct everyone to the nearest exit. They can also give instructions to help people stay calm and make their way to safety. The displays can tell people to evacuate or to shelter, depending on the event. 

Format

How do you want to format your advertisement? Is it a static image, a series of images, or a video clip? Is there sound involved that the viewer needs to hear? These are all questions that you need to consider carefully when you select between digital signage and televisions to advertise. How you want to convey information is part of deciding on the best format.

Suppose you want to show off a news report about current events. In that case, your display will need to be capable of handling video with audio, whereas displaying real-time company data about tracking orders will not need to have audio. Much of the formatting for your display will come back to the purpose of the displays again.

However, if your intent is to advertise your product or service, there are a wide number of ways that you can do so. Your company may have produced a commercial that you want to run on your displays instead of simply saying that there is a sale going on. As you would expect, digital signage is capable of handling many more formats than TVs.

Commercial digital signage might be more expensive if you want to broadcast sound too. Still, it gives you the ability to format your content into web pages, social media responses, customer reviews, slideshows, and so much more. That flexibility allows you to try out different types of ad campaigns while a standard TV does not. 

Interactivity

You will need to consider how interactive you want your display to be. TVs cannot be interacted with by tapping on the screen, so if you are planning to make a fun game for kids to play on the wall while their parents browse your store or a navigation system through the shopping mall, you will want to find a display with a touchscreen. 

Consumer TVs might be able to accommodate a true cinephile who spends most of their day watching TV or playing video games, but even the most dedicated people have to sleep. TVs are not usually made to be constantly running for days, weeks, and months on end. 

Commercial digital signage, on the other hand, was expressly made for that very purpose. You will not notice that digital signage starts to wear out or stop displaying your content in the same way that a TV will. It may be able to stand up to being on for a while, but eventually, the screen will not be as bright, and other problems may start to occur. 

The one downside to interacting is when someone hijacks your screen to show off their own content instead of yours. This is fairly unusual, but it does happen. With a TV, it is much easier to hack in with a simple smartphone and take over the screen. A digital sign, on the other hand, is somewhat more challenging to hack. 

Location

While it is true that the number of wall mounts available means that you can theoretically hang a flat-screen TV in just as many locations as you can put a digital sign, you might find that digital signage is more flexible in where it can be located and more durable in the long run. Commercial digital signage is made to stand up to the wear and tear of weather.

You might be inclined to prefer a TV for outdoor signs since they have brighter displays, but digital signage is made specifically for commercial use and is more durable overall. TVs are generally made to be inside of a consumer’s home, which means they require intricate wall mounts or TV stands to balance. 

Commercial digital signage also has the added benefits of a protective casing. This casing can help preserve the screen and increase its lifespan. While that is a feature you would expect for touchscreens, even digital signage that is not made to be touched usually includes a protective outer shell to keep it safe from dust, debris, and inclement weather.

Even if you are not putting the displays in an area where it usually snows or rains, heat can be just as damaging for digital screens. Digital signage often comes with special cooling fan systems that allow the monitor to keep running for years, even when temperatures outside are frightfully scorching and might overheat a consumer TV.

Size And Shape

Although TVs do come in many more sizes than they used to, there will always be more options for commercial-grade products than products made for individuals. Depending on where you want to display your content, you might want something much larger than any consumer TV can offer you. 

On the other side of the spectrum, digital signage also comes in much smaller sizes than TVs too. A tablet might suffice for something handheld, but plenty of table-sized kiosks are too big for a tablet and often too small for a consumer TV. This is where the flexibility in sizes available for digital signage can come in handy. 

Another way that digital signage outperforms TVs is its ability to work just as well vertically as horizontally. TVs are always meant to display horizontally and cannot handle being tilted on their sides for extended periods. Digital signage can be hung whichever way you choose, and the display will rotate to match. 

Media Player

Regardless of whether you choose digital signage of TVs, you will need a media player to store and stream your content to the displays. Choosing the right media player is an essential part of picking out your display. You can decide on either TVs or digital signage before choosing your media player, but that may lead to buyer’s remorse down the road.

For example, the Amazon Fire Stick is an easy, affordable media player that works great with TVs. Simply plug it into an HDMI port, and you are ready to stream. Android offers similar devices that are intuitive to use, and you have the added benefit of knowing that your employees can probably work one without needing extra training.

However, if you are looking for something more complex for your content, you might decide that a PC-based media player with an operating system like Windows or Linux is the way to go. Since TVs already have software built-in to them, it would be more challenging to hook up a PC-based media player to a TV than to a digital signage screen.

The media player decision also depends on how many screens you are planning for your company. Android media players are better for a small number of screens, whereas PC-based media players are capable of scaling up to include quite a few screens with ease. Depending on how many you are considering installing, that may affect your choice. 

In Conclusion

A wide variety of businesses are turning to digital signage in this modern age in order to enhance their advertisements and convey information to potential customers and employees. If your company has been considering joining the bandwagon, the best recommendation is to use dedicated digital signage instead of TVs to get the most bang for your buck.

Sources

https://www.telemetrytv.com/posts/commercial-digital-signage-displays

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