VIA, Capital Networks Certify Rare Beast: One Commercial Android Digital Signage Player With 2 Distinct Outputs

VIA_ALTA_DS2_Dual_Screen

The DEEP look I took recently into Android digital signage revealed a few things – among them how most of the players were adapted consumer set-top boxes and sticks, and how few were commercial-grade (aka reliable and predictable) devices.

One of the few commercial manufacturers was VIA Technologies, a Taiwan company that has a big office in Silicon Valley, and was the sponsor of the report.

That company has had a set of signage players in the market for at least a couple of years, and has been marketing what I think is the only dual-head commercial Android signage player out there. By dual-head, I mean one device can drive two distinct outputs (as opposed to two screens running the same thing).

The company has jointly announced with Capital Networks that the unit – called ALTA DS 2 – is now certified to run on Capital’s Audience digital signage content management platform.

Says the release:

“We’re delighted that the VIA ALTA DS 2 meets the exacting performance and compatibility requirements for Capital Networks certification,” says Richard Brown, VP of International Marketing, VIA Technologies, Inc. “The combination of the VIA ALTA DS 2 and Audience for Android provides an ultra-reliable solution for mission-critical dual-output applications at a fraction of the cost of typical dual-output PCs, without sacrificing performance.”

“Commercial grade media players that run Google’s Android operating system are rare, but incredibly important to digital signage network operators who demand high reliability, management tools and predictable supply chains,” says Jim Vair, Vice President of Business Development at Capital Networks. “The VIA ALTA DS distinguishes itself from this elite group with its ability to deliver two distinct, independent video outputs from one affordable, solid state player.”

Dave Haynes

Dave Haynes

Editor/Founder at Sixteen:Nine
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for more than a decade. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He's based near Toronto.
Dave Haynes

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3 Comments

  • The reason this is rare is not because of the hardware, its because Android doesn’t actually support multiple diplays. A custom extension to the operating system has to be written to make this work. This does not help its case for reliability because custom system extensions are less likely to be compatible with future versions if the Android OS without major modifications.

  • @Jennie – You are bang on. If you need multi display, stick to an OS that supports it natively. On top of that… it’s only a dual core A9 1GHZ SoC… there’s not enough horsepower there to do much on those dual 1080p independent displays besides hardware accelerated video decoding and static images.

  • Stuart James says:

    VIA does have great hardware and the DS1 unit was very good although stock 4.0.3 firmware supplied suffered from video seek limitation.

    The original DS2 spec was supposed to have HDMI input with dual HDMI out on a 4.3 firmware, unfortunately HDMI In never got into production unit. Not really sure why you would want two 1080 output when second out does not use upstream Android functions to access (probably via SmartETK i am guessing). As many will know it seems HDMI input really only ever worked properly on the long but forgotten Logitech Revue(5 years ahead of its time). Not sure what all the hype was recently about Intel and Android as logitech did this 5 years ago as this device was an Intel Atom. Only ARM based board i know of that allowed you to do HDMI in mapping was Marvell Armada 1500, unfortunately would burn up and lag if you tried to overlay HDMI in on top of other zone.

    VIA needs to drop second output and replace it with HDMI IN look at Android 5 use unified input as per Google IO last year (2014) and make output 4k on single HDMI. Make sure to include GPS with antenna and Bluetooth(for ibeacon support natively available in 5 via Android SDK). Ill even forgive no wifi but would be useful bonus better yet include built in 3/4G module so no need for stupid mifi or usb modem.

    VIA hardware really is good but firmware and tie up between the two are lacking. Nevemind trying to usr something like the VAB 820 off the shelf(no firmware supplied????!@@!l)

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