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Digital Signage Players vs SmartTVs - Choosing The Best Option For Your Business

Blogpost was published on November 9, 2021

In this article, we take a closer look at the differences between a digital signage player and a SmartTV.

Digital signage is a great asset for any business. After all, in the digital age, customers expect companies to keep up. When it comes to digital signage setups, there are a couple of components that work together to bring your vision to life. 

First, you have a screen that can be a variety of sizes, connected to make one large screen, or multiple screens in different places. You can also utilize touchscreens to display your content. Then you also have a content management system which is software that collects, manages, and publishes your content. 

The final piece to the puzzle is a player which in some cases is built into the screen, also known as a SmartTV. The media player connects the content management software to the screen, enabling viewers to see your content. There are several types of players, each with its own benefits, disadvantages, use cases, and capabilities. 

So how do you know which to go with? Well, stick around because we are going to break down different types of digital signage players, compare using a digital signage player vs. TV, and go over how to choose the best option for your business.

Differences between digital signage media player and smart tv

Types of Players and SmartTVs

There are two main categories of players. The first is standalone players which are separate from your digital signage screen. The other category is built-in players. Built-in players, simply put, are built into a smart TV. Before looking at using a standalone digital signage player vs. TV, it is important to understand the different types of players and which category they fall into.

Standalone Players

  • Windows/Linux: Windows or Linux players utilize a Windows or Linux operating system and are typically in the form of a mini PC or laptop. They are higher-end players and can handle just about anything thrown at them including multiple screens.  
  • Android: Android players, like the Rikomagic DS02, Mi TV or the Nvidia Shield, run the Android operating system. They are on the low end of players, which means they are simple to use and affordable but are better for more basic content on a simple, small digital signage set-up.
  • Chrome: Players that use the Chrome operating system can range in price, but have great functionality for digital signage, including native support for HTML5 media and single app kiosk mode which hides the menu and options from viewers. 
  • Apple: Apple products are always on the higher end, but the Apple operating system runs even complicated digital signage beautifully. Just keep in mind that the iPad doesn’t run the Apple operating system, so only their Macbooks or iMac would be a viable digital signage player. 
  • Raspberry PI: Raspberry PI was created as a customizable computer, but can be used for digital signage at a reasonable price. It utilizes its own Raspbian operating system. The customization options can be helpful, but for new users, they may be difficult to set up. It also has a hard time running certain types of content like animations. 
  • Amazon Firesticks: The Amazon Firesticks are one of the most affordable player options and all run on the FireOS operating system. They don’t quite hold the power of other players but can handle most basic digital signage content as long as there is reliable wifi.

Find players organized by operating system, Digital Signage Media Players

Check out the blog post about finding the right media player


  • SmartTV Built-in Players: Many smart TVs have built-in media players. Most of them run on the Fire or Android operating systems but are typically designed for streaming services rather than digital signage, so they don’t always have optimal functionality. 
  • Samsung Tizen SmartTV: The Samsung Tizen SmartTV is actually a smart TV that uses a different operating system, Tizen. Tizen-based TVs were designed specifically for digital signage and will handle most content except for very dynamic elements like multiple videos on one slide or animations. 
  • Tablets: Tablets are the most popular touchscreen option. Tablets have built-in players that typically run Android operating systems. They are great for portability and touch interaction, but do not support advanced dynamic content.

Benefits and Disadvantages of Standalone Players

Standalone players are those that are separate hardware from your screen. They are usually the popular option for digital signage because they have more benefits than disadvantages. 


  • Choose from a variety of operating systems based on your desired content
  • Option for every budget
  • Often more memory 
  • A lot of options from different brands in various sizing and look
  • If one part of your setup breaks, you only have to replace one thing


The only disadvantage to standalone players is that you have a separate piece of hardware that you have to find a place for.

Benefits and Disadvantages of a SmartTV

Of course, like standalone players, there are benefits and disadvantages to a smartTV.


  • It may be easier to set up
  • No extra hardware to find a place for
  • Only have to buy one piece of hardware


  • Most are built for streaming, not digital signage
  • Many do not support dynamic content
  • Can be expensive for the capability it provides
  • Functionality is not an idea for digital signage
  • If one element of your setup breaks or stops working, you have to replace the entire thing rather than just the actual problem

Industry and Business Size Considerations

Every industry and business size can benefit from digital signage, but the choice in player and overall hardware set-up will vary based on size and content requirements. There are four main areas that you’ll need to consider in relation to your individual business. 

Content Bandwidth

Every player handles various types of content differently. This means that some of them can support dynamic content like animations and multiple videos per screen, while others can only handle the basics like static photos and text. 

Small businesses with only one screen wanting to display operating hours and basic information to their customers could get away with a more affordable lower-end player or a smart TV. 

However, corporations that are looking to display extravagant presentations or custom entertainment media, would need to choose a stronger higher-end media player like a Windows or Linux-based system. 

When choosing between standalone digital signage players vs TVs, keep in mind the content you want to display and what each player can handle. 

Pricing Differences

Of course, like with anything in the business world, price matters. Players can cost as little as $30 or several hundred dollars. Smaller businesses that aren’t well established may need to choose a cost-effective option, while larger, more profitable businesses could afford a higher-end choice. 

There is a big difference in the price of standalone digital signage players vs TVs. A SmartTV is typically the more expensive of the two and might not be within the budget of some companies.

Multi-screen Compatibility

One of the benefits of digital signage is that you can have multiple screens all connected to make one larger screen or several screens in various locations each playing different content. However, it is important to consider that not every digital signage player has multi-screen compatibility. 

When considering digital signage players vs. a SmartTV, it is important to note that there are options for both that support multiple screens. If your business needs a multi-screen setup, consider the compatibility before choosing a player. 

Content Management System Compatibility

Whether you use a standalone digital signage player or a SmartTV, it must be compatible with the content management software you are going to use. Not every content management system is compatible with every operating system and some require proprietary media players. 

However, if you go with us here at Play Digital Signage for your content management system,  we support all eight of the most popular operating systems. No proprietary hardware is needed here.

Use Play Digital Signage with Any Player Choice

With Play Digital Signage, you can choose the player you want to use because you would be hard-pressed to find a player Play isn’t compatible with. The Play Digital Signage content management software also has a fully-featured built-in editor, affordable pricing structure, stellar support including set-up guides for each operating system, and a free ten screen trial with no time limit! When you are considering standalone digital signage players vs TVs, you can be confident in your choice with Play Digital Signage. 

To get started with your free ten-screen trial and begin designing your content, simply follow these three steps: 

  1. Sign up at We won’t ask for any billing or credit card information until you have chosen your hardware, designed your content, and are ready to go live. 
  2. Choose your screen. Play Digital Signage supports any size screen. If you have decided you want a built-in player, ensure you choose a Smart TV or a tablet for your screen(s). 
  3. Pick a player or a SmartTV. We have gone over all of the options, but if you want to see our performance scores for some of the most popular selections, click here. Keep in mind that if you went with a Smart TV or tablet, you won’t need a separate player.

Standalone digital signage players vs. TVs can be a hard choice to make when setting up digital signage, but if you keep this information in mind during your search, you can choose the best option for your business. Of course, if you have any questions, always feel free to contact us!

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