string(53) "http://manage.exhibio.com/blog_posts/curl_index?cat=1" Digital Signage Articles

Digital Signage Articles

Posted in: Product Updates

Exhibio-digital-signage-player-model-X900Exhibio has announced cutting-edge hardware upgrades across their full line of digital signage media players.

The new units have been equipped with faster and more energy-efficient processors, allowing them to continue delivering today's most demanding digital content to clients' displays as effectively as possible. The compact M-500 model runs on a modern, dual-core mobile processor from AMD, while the more advanced X-900 and ST-200 models are now being powered by blazing fast quad-core Intel i7 CPUs.

Solid-state drives (SSD) now come standard on all Exhibio digital signage players as well. SSD storage is faster, more reliable, and less power-hungry than traditional hard-disk drives.

The new hardware changes also introduce a sleek, smaller form factor for each unit. Having a smaller physical footprint makes these systems easier and more convenient to deploy.

“Exhibio is committed to making our digital signage players the fastest and most efficient available. Our new product line definitely puts us on top of the market in this regard,” said Greg Berner, Exhibio’s Sales Manager.

For more information, contact Exhibio at 1.877.394.4246 or online at http://www.exhibio.com/.

Posted in: Product Updates

When preparing content for your digital sign, chances are you'll want to include some sort of videos at one point or another. There are a few important things to remember when putting movies up on your sign, though. Doing things wrong can result in bad looking videos, bad performance, or both. Microsoft Expression Encoder is a freely available tool that can help you fix many of these issues.

The most important thing for you to do is make sure that your video is encoded at the same resolution that it will display at. Movie files have a "native size" that they will play back at best. If you play the video at a smaller or larger size, the computer will have to do more work to stretch or shrink it to fit.

Figure out the size you want to play the video at first. For example, if you are playing a movie fullscreen on a display running at 1360x768 resolution, then you need the video to be encoded at 1360x768.

Next you need to figure out the native size of your video. There are many ways to do this, but the easiest is to simply right click on the file, and select "Properties." On the "Summary" tab the video "Width" and "Height" should be listed. Ideally your source video should be the same size or larger than the resolution it will be when displayed on the screen. If it's smaller, it's likely to look bad once you re-encode it to the proper size.

Lastly you need to import the video into Microsoft Expression Encoder and re-encode it. When you do this you'll be asked what video codec you would like to use. This choice will largely depend on what you are using to play back the movie. For Windows Media Player Microsoft VC1 is recommended. Once you select the codec, simply re-encode the video to the size you want it. If it doesn't match any of the preset resolutions use a custom one.

That's it! With this information at hand, you are well on your way to having great looking and performing video content on your sign.

Posted in: Product Updates

Advantages of custom shell

When using a Windows based platform for your Digital Signage solution, there are many gremlins lurking around that can pop up and ruin your display. Among these are the omnipresent task bar and pop-up notification icon messages. The main issue is that the Windows Explorer shell is designed for use as an interactive PC user interface. If you run the Explorer Shell you're going to always be fighting with these things to get your sign to display without interruption. The best solution is to use an embedded Windows distribution and create your own custom shell.

There are two main things you need to do to get a Custom Windows Shell up and running. First you need to write the Shell program itself. The Shell program is a Windows executable that provides the actual graphical user interface for your system. This will typically include icons or buttons to perform the basic functions of your digital sign. Usually some button to launch the sign and another to configure it would be included. This program can be written in any language that you can write windows desktop applications in.

The second thing you need to do is get Windows launch your Custom Shell instead of launching Explorer each time a user logs in. To tell Windows to launch your Custom Shell, enter the full path to your Shell's .exe file in this registry key: "HKEY_LOCAL_MACHINE\SOFTWARE\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon\Shell".

Once you have this all in place, your customers will be rewarded with a much better digital signage experience.

 

Posted in: Product Updates

Digital Signage Power Scheme

Continuing on the theme of Windows Embedded Standard 7 (WES7) deployment of Digital Signage Applications, this article shows you how to create and apply a Custom Windows Power Plan. When running a Digital Sign, the last thing you want to happen is for the screen to go black after 20 minutes or the screensaver to kick in or the system to go to sleep. By default Windows 7 is configured with a power scheme that really isn't all that Signage-friendly. Compounding this problem is the fact that none of the built-in power plans are quite right out of the box. The solution is to create your own Custom Power plan.

First you need to create your plan.

  1. From the Windows Control panel click on "Power Options".
  2. Click the "Create a power plan" link on the left.
  3. Base your custom plan on the "High Performance" plan and give it a name. In our case we're calling it "Exhibio Power Plan".
  4. Click "Next".
  5. Choose sleep and display settings appropriate for your application (usually "Never" is the right choice here).
  6. Click the "Create" button.

 

Assuming that you want to deploy this power plan to multiple devices, you now need to export a .pow file defining the plan's settings.

  1. Launch the Windows command prompt and type: "powercfg list".
  2. Find the power plan that you created in the list and export it using the following command substituting "[Power Plan Name]" with the name of your plan and "[Power Scheme Guid]" with the Guid shown in the list next to it:
    powercfg -export "%UserProfile%\Desktop\[Power Plan Name].pow" [Power Scheme Guid]

 

The last thing you need to do is import and activate the power plan on your WES7 devices.

  1. Copy the .pow file you created in the last section to the new machine.
  2. Create a batch file that you can run to install and activate the plan. Here is an example batch file. Just replace [PATH TO .POW FILE] with the file location of your Custom Power Scheme and replace [Power Scheme Guid] with the same Guid you used in the previous step.

 

File:
InstallPowerPlan.bat

Contents:
@echo off
%WINDIR%\System32\powercfg.exe -IMPORT "[PATH TO .POW FILE]" [Power Scheme Guid]
%WINDIR%\System32\powercfg.exe -SETACTIVE [Power Scheme Guid]

Now you have a Custom Power Plan than you can deploy to all your WES7 devices!

Posted in: Product Updates

Digital Signage Custom Shell

For Digital Signage applications Microsoft's newest embedded operating system, Windows Embedded Standard 7 (WES7), offers many compelling advantages over other alternatives. One of the biggest pluses is the addition of Windows Update. Now your customers can keep their Digital Signage player devices up to date with Microsoft's latest security enhancements and hot-fixes using a tool that they are already familiar with. There is just one minor issue that you'll need to work around if you are using a Custom Shell. Aside: You are using a custom shell, right? If not, then you should really get to work on that first!

Unfortunately, Windows Update doesn't function properly in the initial or SP1 releases of WES7 when using a Custom Shell. The problem stems from the fact that Windows Update was designed to work hand in hand with Microsoft's Explorer Shell and as such it assumes that you have the task-bar running. When it checks for updates, it runs some code that updates an icon in the task-bar. If you don't have a task-bar running, Windows Update will hang and stop functioning.

So what do you do now that you have a Custom Shell and want to get your customers their security fixes? Right now, the only solution is to switch shells on the fly. Basically, you will need run some code (or a batch file) that updates the registry to switch shells and logs the user out. Then when they log back in a RunOnce Registry item triggers Windows Update to run. Finally you'll need an icon on the desktop that runs some code to switch back to your Custom Shell and log them out again.

Here are a few example batch files that you may use to accomplish what I've outlined in the previous paragraph:

File:
SwitchToExplorerShell.bat

Contents:
@echo off
echo Switching to the Explorer Windows Shell and logging out
echo The Explorer Shell will run when you log back in timeout /t 10 reg add "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\WinLogon" /v Shell /t REG_SZ /d explorer.exe /f shutdown /l

File:
SwitchToCustomShell.bat

Contents:
@echo off
echo Switching to the Custom Shell and logging out echo The Custom shell will run when you log back in timeout /t 10 reg add "HKLM\Software\Microsoft\Windows NT\CurrentVersion\Winlogon" /v Shell /t REG_SZ /d eshell.exe /f shutdown /l

That's it! Hopefully Microsoft fixes this glitch with Windows Update in WES SP2. Then we'll be able to launch it directly from our Custom Shell.