A dumb $119 device that MAY be all you need

July 24, 2009 by Dave Haynes

I do NOT advocate building out DS networks with dumb devices that have no connectivity and therefore can’t be monitored and remedied remotely, particularly in situations in which the content needs to get regularly updated.

However. there have been times during my technology sales life (now past) in which I was pitching, but thinking, my pots and pans bordered on overkill for the client, given the requirements.

Were seeing boxes come on the market, like Western Digital’s and this new one from MediaGate that really are all some businesses may ever need for digital signage. They’re tiny, probably quite reliable, capable of smooth 1080P HD, support lotsa formats and cost not a lot more than $100. They get updated by USB or flash memory cards. 

The down side, as mentioned, is they don’t have ethernet, and therfore cant be updated remotely and sent playback scripts. But that will come. There is already a product on the market — more like the sub-culture market — called a Popcorn Hour that does have a network and is already being peddled as a $200 limited function player.

If you are running an ad network or mission-critical private network, this is not the answer in any way. If you are a business operator who wants to show a handful of videos over and over again, you probably dont need a commercial solution.

There’s an argument to be made that for another $100 or so someone can build an Atom or Via-based PC that will do the job, but that assumes to the chipset can play out the video (big assumption) and forgets about that little $100-plus thing called Windows. Linux is free, yup, but you need someone with a propeller hat to make that work. 

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