First look: BrightSign's new 4K digital signage media player

What is it?

It's the new 4K ultra digital signage media player from BrightSign LLC, which the company says is "the first to deliver a true end-to-end 4K solution that accepts H.265-encoded content and delivers 60 fps output via HDMI 2.0."

The Los Gatos, Calif.-based digital signage media player provider today announced the launch of its new 4K media player, and company CEO Jeff Hastings said in a recent interview that H.265 encoding and decoding and a 60 frames-per-second output are essential to delivering actual 4K video content to 4K-capable displays. "Our whole thing right now is making sure people really understand that and to demystify 4K," he said, "so that people don't end up feeling duped or disappointed when they deploy 4K digital signage. We don't want 4K to get a bad rap."

What's new?

Hastings delivered an educational briefing in a recent interview, looking at the history of video-encoding algorithms and video frame rates as they apply to showing 4K content on digital signage displays — the gist of which can be summed up by this passage from the press release the company put out today:

"For content to remain 4K native and be delivered at the highest visual quality, video must be captured on a 4K-capable camera, encoded and decoded using the new H.265 compression standard at 10 bits/channel, and fed to the display via HDMI 2.0 to preserve the original 60 fps frame rate. Any broken link in this chain of events adversely impacts video quality, and the output falls short of what 4K is made to be."

According to BrightSign, its new solid-state media player hits all those marks — and that's exciting news, said Steve Seminario, the senior director of product marketing for 4K display provider Planar Systems Inc.

"The BrightSign 4K player announcement is very exciting, and we're looking forward to testing it with our Planar UltraRes 4K display," Seminario said in an email. "Their player's support of H.265 HEVC compression and HDMI 2.0 transmission imply the ability to drive single-cable 4K/60Hz content, which would be a tremendous accomplishment. In today's environment, much of the available 4K video is encoded to H.264 MPEG4 and designed to run at 4K/30Hz or 24Hz over HDMI 1.4. Even at that slower refresh rate, it can be difficult to find PCs and player appliances that can properly play that content without skips or jitter. BrightSign's move to the next generation of these standards, and the prospect of supporting even higher frame-rate 4K is an exciting industry development."

Other interesting specs?

According to BrightSign, its new player also supports:

  • HTML5 – Users can build content using familiar development tools and layer HTML5 assets and high-bandwidth video for playback on the hardware-accelerated HTML5 engine.
  • IP Streaming – The player supports buffered playback of full-HD video, motion JPEG and audio streams in all common formats: HLS, UDP/RTP/RTSP, HTTP, SHOUTcast, etc.
  • Swipe – Users can add the popular swipe screen control to their presentations within HTML content.
  • BrightWall – Users can create video walls using this drag-and-drop BrightAuthor tool that uses a common clock to achieve frame-accurate synchronization.
  • BrightSign App – Users can update messaging and interact with locally networked signage using their iPads or iPhones. The app allows them to change user variables and trigger UDP events for instant signage updates.
  • Geo-Fencing – Users can play content targeted to the location of their moving digital signage using a USB GPS dongle.

How much?

According to a company spokesman, the pricing information right now is "less than $1,000."

Anything else?

ONELAN Ltd. announced that it would show a 4K media player at this year's Integrated Systems Europe in Amsterdam this week. ONELAN's announcement of the product contained few details on the technical specs of its new player, so Digital Signage Today has reached out to the company to see if its player hits the aforementioned benchmarks for 4K video playback.

The bottom line:

The rush (or potential rush) to 4K is one of the hottest topics in the digital signage sphere at the moment, so BrightSign is getting a jump on the game by positioning its player to address that opening in the market. The 4K-capable displays on the market can present stunning imagery, but burning questions remain about the availability of 4K content for those screens and the ability of media players to get that content to the screen. This surely will be far from the last we'll hear about this.

Learn more about digital signage content management.

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