Slightly puzzled by PR today that suggests Sharp is introducing its first smart digital signage solutions, since the company did that more than a year ago.
That was in Europe, so maybe this is the North American launch of system on chip displays that run Android.
Update: I am told the original plan was to launch last fall, but that was delayed. This product starts shipping April 1.
Says a press release:
Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America (SIICA), a division of Sharp Electronics Corporation (SEC), today introduced its first stand-alone signage solution with the flexibility and expandability to support various applications and usage styles.
The new 40″ Class (39.5″ diagonal) PN-B401 and 50″ Class (49.5″ diagonal) PN-B501 professional LCD displays deliver digital signage solutions from all types of content providers without having to rely on external media players such as PCs. Each PN-B series display features a powerful, Android-based, built-in SoC (System on a Chip) controller driven by the Arm® Cortex®-A17 quad core processor (max. 1.8 GHz) with 2 GB memory and 8 GB storage. The embedded SoC provides for unique reliability, convenience and power, reducing cabling and allowing for easier content deployment.
“The PN-B401 and PN-B501 are excellent smart digital signage solutions with significant benefits for both our channel network and end users,” says Gary Bailer, director of product management, Information Display Products, Sharp Imaging and Information Company of America. “By implementing SoC technology, we eliminate the need for a separate media player or PC, thus lowering the cost of entry. This strategy helps us to simplify digital signage for our customers, making it more accessible for companies and organizations of all sizes.”
The Android player supports HTML5.
The PN-B series is Sharp’s first professional display series to feature the SHARP Open Architecture Platform for digital signage, which offers end users easy ways to download, store and play content directly from the display. The Platform is a combination of Sharp technology and alliances with leading third-party digital signage software providers. In addition, both displays offer an expansion slot compatible with the Intel® Mini Open Pluggable Specification (Mini OPS), which supports the addition of advanced optional wireless (PN-ZB03W), computing (PN-ZB03AO), or HDBaseT™ receiver boards (PN-ZB03H), giving the display a unique, open platform flexibility.
Multiple PN-B series displays can be set up in a daisy chain configuration, offering customers an economic, scalable digital signage solution resulting in a 2×2 video wall with the equivalent of 4K Ultra-HD (3,840 × 2,160-pixel) resolution. The displays also offer several installation options, whether in a landscape or portrait orientation, installed face-up, face-down, or tilted forward or backward at an angle of up to 90 degrees. Designed for easy hanging installation, they can be suspended with wires from the four corners of the rear housing.
The PN-B401 and PN-B501 are available to ship now. Sharp plans to expand its smart signage platform in 2018 with additional sizes, resolutions and brightness levels.
At ISE last year, the European wing of Sharp launched an Android-driven set-up for SoC, with free Sharp Digital Signage Software as a default on its new displays and an Open Architecture Platform that already had partnerships developed with software companies like CityMeo, Grassfish, Videro, and easyscreen.
Sharp did a “technology preview” of all this at InfoComm last June.
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.