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July 14, 2008 9:13 AM   Subscribe

I need an electronic welcome sign for my office. Currently we are using printed signs in a frame to welcome clients and prospects to our financial services office. We would like to change that to a large digital frame that can also show some photos from client events. The large part seems to be giving me trouble.

Preferably, I need wireless acess, the ability to use a picture frame, and scheduled changes rather than random. The display must be at least 14" diag, (8 1/2 x 11").

I have looked at the offerings from Digital Spectrum and I don't think the quality is up to the price on that brand from the sparse reviews I have found. I have considered using a lcd monitor or television, but don't know what software might be appropriate.
posted by Talia Devane to Technology (6 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
Something like this connected to a flat-screen computer monitor or LCD TV would seem to be a very slick solution.

You could "frame" the screen as you wish, and you'd be able to do much bigger than 14".

It'd be wi-fi, solid state and very programmable.
posted by rokusan at 9:22 AM on July 14, 2008

My organization did this using a big-ass LCD TV connected to a PC running a huge PowerPoint loop. When we want to take note of someone, they either replace the normal loop with a static image, or insert the desired names into the main loop.

Way more expensive than a digital frame, but vastly more flexible. Ran the cabling down inside the wall so it's all nice & tidy. Remote access is relatively trivial, insofar as remote access is ever truly trivial.
posted by aramaic at 9:38 AM on July 14, 2008

ditto aramaic. You can also hook up a DVD player and loop messages or photos.
posted by Gungho at 9:57 AM on July 14, 2008

I've worked on projects like this before. We found that a regular LCD monitor connected to a small-form-factor PC worked fine.

In fact, we found that many signage vendors we talked to were actually taking regular flat monitors and fabricating fancy acrylic or steel frames to go around them, them selling them as specialty signage items. The special proprietary signage software was just something they had whipped up in Flash.

Basically, "signage" is just a computer and a monitor in fancy wrappers. You can use Powerpoint, you can use Flash (usually the best choice for this, it scales really nicely and smoothly), you can display web pages in kiosk mode in Firefox or IE, you can use Windows Media Player in full-screen mode....anything.

If you want it to look nice or unique (not just an obvious monitor on a wall bracket) you'd need to find someone in your area who specializes in this sort of thing. (I know a vendor in the Twin Cities, for example.) Typically they're people who contract to do architectural signage. Steel might be really expensive, especially for a one-off, but having someone cut a piece of frosted acrylic to look nice for you might not be too bad. I'd imagine you could use a frame shop, even, but they might not be as familiar with electrical/networking/air circ needs.

Likewise if you want the graphic display to look nice, there are probably boatloads of freelancers or small design firms in your area who would love to whip up a little something for you in Flash. Or, depending on your company, ask around in the IT or Communications areas--you may already have resources available on staff.

Very small PCs are out on the market (examples) that you can use to control your sign without so much bulk or noise involved. Many are full-featured computers like you're used to, just smaller.
posted by gimonca at 10:14 AM on July 14, 2008

That being said, I'm starting to notice more and more point-of-sale type signage that really is just a plain, old monitor sitting on the counter flashing messages. Regular black, flat screen monitors look perfectly acceptable in many settings.
posted by gimonca at 10:16 AM on July 14, 2008

I think we will end up combining aramaic's suggestion with gimonica's micro PCs. My husband works in home theater installation so we can hire him to do a flat mount of an LCD monitor and run the wires. Thanks for the help.
posted by Talia Devane at 5:57 AM on July 15, 2008

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