Spinetix HMP400 Hyper Media Player
Next generation media player from Swiss signage specialist, Spinetix.
Digital Signage remains something of an AV orphan. Actually, perhaps not an orphan so much as an only child — a bit special… cosseted and probably due a serious reality check when it grows up.
The proliferation of system on a chip (SoC) smart displays running Android threaten to turn digital signage into just another ‘end point’ on the network. This new breed of smart screen is in just about everyone’s living rooms now. People understand how they can natively host applications, such as YouTube or Netflix without an additional box, and the commercial versions make a lot of sense for many applications, such as hotel rooms and certain digital signage situations.
So is the era of specialist digital signage vendors over? Not if Spinetix has anything to say about it.
BLUE BLOOD SIGNAGE
Spinetix is a blue-blood digital signage specialist. It made a name for itself with its German-made bulletproof media players and has since grown into a purveyor of signage systems. By ‘systems’ I mean companion software that allows its customers to author and schedule content, along with monitoring the signage network. By providing all the tools, Spinetix can squeeze the best performance from its product.
The new HMP400 media player not only provides a generational improvement, by being ready for 4K/60 content, it also signals a rationalising of the Spinetix range.
The HMP400 is now the only media player on the Spinetix books. Diva is gone, as are the previous HMP300 and 350 players. That said, there’s a wifi variant of the HMP400, the HMP400W.
The companion software is Arya. Arya is a cloud-based content creator and scheduler. It’s designed for ease of use but is sophisticated enough to maintain a serious network of Hyper Media Players.
ARYA CLOUD PLATFORM
If you want to experience Arya right now, you can sign up to the free ‘Discovery’ version, which is very similar to the full version only without some editing and scheduling features. Otherwise, once you’ve committed to the hardware, you’ll want to pony-up to license the Enterprise version.
Arya is built for ease of use and is built for use specifically with Spinetix players. Getting started couldn’t be easier and the WYSIWYG interface is simple to use. Start with a template that best matches your aspirations and you can tweak the template to bring in your own artwork, logos, lists etc.
You can then select the scheduler to choose the screen on which you wish the content to be displayed and when.
The HMP400 itself is everything you desire in a media player. Black. Unspectacular in appearance. Low profile.
Inside the fanless, sealed chassis is an Intel Atom processor (which is something new for Spinetix, as it’s traditionally used Texas Instruments processors) and a 16GB SSD — enough to render big chunks of 4K content.
Around the back is the network connection and HDMI output for the display. There are three USB-C lockable connectors. One is for power, another for stereo analogue line level audio, and the third is designed as a DisplayPort output. You can use the USB ports for other purposes, such as updating the firmware or connecting an external drive.
Around the front is a power button and four status LEDs.
On the top are two mounting points.
The Atom processor runs Spinetix’ own DSOS operating system, designed for signage and stripped of everything unnecessary.
Another new feature is the player’s ability to run via PoE+. This is a huge advantage for the installer — just plug a network cable into the unit and you’re away (provided the network switch is up to the task, of course). It also provides an increase in uptime, as $1 plug packs seem always to be the weakest link.
So I return to my original musings. What’s to come of a specialist digital signage vendor like Spinetix? Will digital signage just be another icon on a Microsoft dashboard?
With specialisation comes a deeper appreciation of the complexities involved in larger networks.
Not to say the HMP400 isn’t ideal for small deployments.
If you are a retailer in need of a single screen. Then the HMP400 is ideal. It won’t be the cheapest option but it will run and run and run, and you have seamless integration with Arya that’s fall-off-a-log easy to use.
Alternatively, if you’re a university or an airport, with scores of screens in the network, then deciding to throw your digital signage lot in with Spinetix makes a great deal of sense.
Spinetix does everything in its power to address security, this is a massive consideration, and a reason why Spinetix is a preferred supplier to defence departments. (And in these occasions the client would use Spinetix’ on-premise Elementi software to provide an extra level of security.)
Secondly, if your requirements are complex and involve deeper integration with other systems (POS, FIDS, BIM for example) then, again, Spinetix makes a lot of sense. Spinetix has assisted countless enterprises with their very particular demands.
Digital signage remains special and will remain special for some time to come. It’s not simply another end point or component of a larger AV system. The client or end user not only maintains the network, they update it, and they interact with it daily. There needs to be high-level buy-in for it to be successful, not just a training session.
Spinetix needs no reminder as to why digital signage is special; it lives and breathes it every day.