We’ve all been hearing about 4K for a few years now, and the general sense has been that while 4K looks pretty damned amazing, the signage eco-system isn’t really ready for it because of the lack of content, the cost of displays and hardware, and the file size implications.
That seems to be changing on most fronts, and I think we’re going to start to see more and more projects include Ultra HD screens where they make sense – like high-end retail.
Costs are dropping on displays and it’s now possible to get 4K content other than stock video of landscapes, cityscapes and exotic animals.
And more players are coming on the market, lowering hardware costs. You can get a consumer Android set-top box that touts it can do 4K for sub-$200, but … it’s a consumer product built for living room use. There are PC and dedicated player solutions out there, notably BrightSign, but the price tag is pretty high.
Charles Regula from VIA Technologies, who has written a few guest posts here on Android signage, tells me his company is starting to talk to software companies and integrators about a commercial-grade Android player (out as test units by summer) that will run Android 5.0 and come in at a target price of $150 USD. The plan is to be shipping by fall and also move up to Android 6 support by year’s end.
4K video files are huge, so a nice feature of what VIA’s putting together is h.265 support, a relatively new video compression standard that cuts file sizes roughly in half. So a monster 4K file is more like what a signage network might be moving around with 1080P HD files, using the older h.264 video compression standard.
VIA is not doing a booth at DSE this year, as the new 4K box is not yet in production. But Regula says he’ll be at and around the show, and happy to meet with software companies and integrators next week.