New, tiny fanless unit capable of serious HD digital signage

August 24, 2010 by Dave Haynes

The Swiss seem to make very nice little digital signage boxes. Spinetix has had a very nice little solid state box and platform on the market for at least a couple of years, and now we the technology firm NOXEL AG – also from Switzerland – releasing what appears to be a great little digital signage box.

I had seen some PR recently about the firm but it was overly technical, so I sent a note asking for more, better info. I ended up (disclosure) helping them craft a fresh release that better gets to the nut of what they have …

Noxel AG has released a tiny new solid-state digital signage player capable of playing out conventional and 3D video at full 1080P, and built to run flawlessly in the field for months or years.

Designed and manufactured by Switzerland-based Noxel, the new NXDS600 player couples a Blu-ray video engine with an IPTV-class processor to deliver an ideal hardware solution for the demands of medium to large digital signage networks. The device is not a personal computer, which greatly increases reliability rates in the field and minimizes installation and management requirements.

There is no operating system in the NXDS600 units, and that has many implications, explained Group CEO Farbod Sadeghian. “There’s no extra cost for software or development. Operators will see fast, consistent boot-ups from these devices. And there are no more blue screens. This is part of a robust streamlined, framework designed for and dedicated to digital signage applications.”

The units – measuring just 150mm by 128mm wide and 40mm high, and weighing just 950 grams – use embedded firmware that can be upgraded automatically, and both monitored and managed remotely. Video playback uses the latest Sigma Designs set top box-style video decoder (SMP865X), which can smoothly play out high-definition MPEG-4.10 (H.264), SMPTE 421M (VC-1), AVS, WMV9, MPEG-4.2 and MPEG-2.

The integrated Sigma chip also easily handles 3D MPEG-2/H.264 Side by Side, Over/Under, Anaglyphic 3D, Polarised 3D and Auto-stereoscopic 3D content formats – tasks more typically reserved for costly, high-powered PCs.

The NXDS600 is also designed to both simplify and speed up deployments. “As soon as a device is turned on and establishes an Internet connection, it will recognize the network setting, register itself to a designated server, and that’s it. Nothing else needs to be done locally,” explained Farbod Sadeghian. “People with no IT skills can plug in this unit and get it running.”

The NXDS players are among the first on the market to specifically address the core reliability, maintenance and overall operating cost demands of large-scale digital signage network operators. The units have no moving parts, with industrial cooling fins on the casing dissipating any heat generated by the low temperature processor. The players use solid state SD and internal USB-based memory to remove any needed for a rotating hard disk drive, a common point of failure.

The units also operate well within “green” technology standards. At high bit rate, full HD decoding, the players consume less than 5 watts. In standby mode, consumption is less than 2 watts. Typical PC-based digital signage players, by comparison, require more than 60 watts.


The price is quite a bit less than some other fanless stuff out there, and either in line or less than stuff like Mac Minis and the Aopen units a lot of people use. However, it is proprietary, so you are using Noxel’s DS platform – which is SaaS or you can buy and manage yourself. It is an embedded firmware, so I don’t know if other software could be ported to or if it could take instructions from other front-ends.

You are not going to run Flash files off this little fella, but so what. A box that has no moving parts, plays out 1080P at 60 frames per second and pretty much auto-installs in the field is awfully interesting.

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