Global sales of streaming media players are expected to reach 50 million by 2017, according to research by Parks Associates. With hundreds of media player manufacturers and brands to choose from, how can a value-added reseller (VAR) decide on the right device for each pro AV project?
First thing’s first: It’s important to recognize that not all media players are created equally, and no single brand will meet every customer’s requirements (or budget). Your goal should be to familiarize yourself with the core media player features, as well as some of the leading brands, to get started.
When choosing media players for pro AV systems, keep the following considerations in mind:
1. Stand-alone versus integrated.
Media players are available as independent, stand-alone devices or integrated into the display device – especially in the case of video walls. Be sure to take into account the full scope of the project, your customer’s budget and their level of tech-savvy when deciding on stand-alone versus integrated.
2. The operating systems (OS).
Today’s media players run on either the Android, Windows or Apple OS, so choose carefully to suit each customer’s needs. You’ll want to use a device that is compatible with any computers and mobile devices that might be used to control the media player software.
3. Environmental factors.
Be sure to take the environment into consideration. A media player must be able to live up to various factors, such as high or low temperatures and movement. For example, if the device will be located in a restaurant, where it might be jostled easily, it may need to be ruggedized.
4. Memory and storage space.
Depending on the type of content your customer will be running, be sure to choose a media player that has adequate memory and storage space. Larger-scale digital signage applications require much more processing power and storage than, for example, simple video conferencing projects.
5. Content sources.
Your customer might require special content management software that enables caching on the media player, or they might opt to stream content directly from the internet in real time. Others may benefit from a media player that comes pre-loaded with content. Whatever their choice, be sure to choose a media player that seamlessly supports that capability.
While you’re thinking about content, establish who will be responsible for managing and scheduling content for the system, and how often. How tech-savvy are these end users? Your answer may change your choice of media players.
6. Wireless or wired connectivity.
A growing number of media players support wireless connectivity, but certain customers might opt for the reliability of a hard-wired connection. For projects that have high-bandwidth requirements, wired might be your best bet. On the other hand, large facilities with widely-spaced devices may make wireless a necessity.
7. Network connections.
Does the media player provide support for LAN or WAN connection types? If not, you might be limiting the future growth potential of the project.
How easy will it be for end users to learn the ropes of the media player? Remember, these are the people who will be using it every day; it’s vital that they feel comfortable with its capabilities and will actually use it to its full potential.
What are your most important factors for choosing a media player? What brands do you find yourself recommending regularly?