With technology, it's especially difficult to tell the difference between a good product and a bad one. As was the case with a coin biter, you just had to go off of experience which meant you got cheated enough to know better after a while. Back in the 80's and 90's, buying a computer was a very daunting idea. Technology wasn't really simplified for a buyer and the choices seemed intimidating. Over the last 20 years, computer manufacturers have simplified their sales approach and made the important components more transparent (processing speed, hard drive sizes, computer capabilities/performance, etc.). The overall buying process was simplified and it became possible for someone to compare different computers and see which one (based on specs and performance) would be the best option.
The difficulty people encounter with buying a Digital Signage solution is similar to someone shopping for a computer 20 years ago. It's hard to compare one system from the other because of a general lack of standard common component naming conventions (especially with LED Signs) and little-to-no transparency in the market. I was speaking with a client last week about comparing a system she had found online vs. the option I presented. Here's a snippet of the conversation:
Me: Where did you get this quote?
Client: I found it on ebay. It's really cheap and I think it might work for our needs.
Me: Comparing systems can be really difficult, but let me put this situation in a different context. Let's say you're buying a laptop for your business. You go to the big box store near the mall and notice the price range for the laptop you want is about $500-$600. Not bad. As you walk out the store, you see someone selling laptops from a folding table in the parking lot. The seller tells you they have laptops which are "just as good" as the ones in the big box store, but "factory direct" and you can buy one for as little as $50 right now. The person will even write their cell phone number on a piece of paper in case you need help later. Would you take the offer?
Client: Of course not. It sounds really shady to me.
Me: This is the modern problem with DS. There are a lot of players in the market and it's easy to be misled. This is why it's really important to know who you're dealing with. What support does the company offer? How reliable are they? How good is their product? Are they offering current and/or innovative technology or repackaging old tech in a new cabinet? You can't just trust what people say, you've got to dig deeper and know what you're getting.
This is why it's important to do your research. Find out about why you may want an IPC instead of an embedded controller. When do software-based controls for a DS system make sense and when are cloud-based controls better? Please don't feel like you've got to go it alone. Unfortunately, there's no "quick answer" to this question, but there are resources to help you figure it all out. The savvy manufacturers out there are working hard to educate people. You can reach out to me or others in the industry for direction and assistance so you can hopefully avoid the pains and headaches we've gone through when we bit those lead coins thinking they were gold. Don't get caught eating lead, you and your clients are worth more.
The blog is fairly extensive, so we've put out a list of previous blogs (sorted by category) to help you learn more --> A year (plus) of Digital Signage information!
Please comment here or send questions or requests for information to firstname.lastname@example.org. Vantage LED has white paper resources and more educational material on the website (http://www.vantageled.com), please check it out when you have a moment. Note all posts/thoughts/writings are strictly the viewpoint of me and me alone and do not reflect nor speak for Vantage LED’s beliefs, attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.attitudes, thoughts, etc. unless specifically noted.