Taiwanese computer maker Asus has released a sub $70 single board computer – called the Tinker Board – that should be beefy enough to run 4K video and get the attention of the crowd using Raspberry Pis as digital signage players.
The micro PCs have:
- Quad core 1.8GHz ARM Cortex-A17 CPU
- 2GB Dual channel LPDDR3 memory
- 1x HDMI 2.0 port to support 4K resolution
- Gigabit LAN and Bluetooth 4.0
- 802.11 b/g/n Wi-Fi
That’s twice the RAM of a Pi (though still not a bunch), and the design also has as an input/output setup that allows for the device to do Internet of Things tasks, like being the smarts for sensors.
The Tinker Board runs on Debian Linux, as does the Pi.
A Raspberry Pi is going to cost $35-$45, while this one is about $68 USD. In both cases, completing the units involves buying or 3D printing an enclosure and getting an external power supply and memory card. There are other Pi-like devices out there as well, like the $15 Orange Pi.
Most commercial software companies in the digital signage sector do NOT use Raspberry Pis and develop to beefier consumer grade or commercial grade PCs or players (or System on Chip displays), but there is a vast market out there of end-users looking to trim out as much hardware cost as they can. One post on this site – on Raspberry Pi options for digital signage – has been viewed well in excess of 100,000 times.
The CMS Screenly is focused on Raspberry Pi as its platform. Here’s what its CEO says:
One arguable benefit of the Asus board over some of the others is that it is a large, well-known brand with a track record, versus some of the much lesser-known products that represent risks in terms of supply chain and support.
Here’s an unboxing video for the propellerhead crowd:
I had no luck finding this on the Asus site or on North American PC resellers, but here’s a link to a UK site where you could order and ship.
Hat Tip Jason Cremins of Signagelive for tip-off on this …
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.