There are two types of Android devices we commonly get questions on –
Generic Android Devices, which could be called media players, tv boxes, sticks, or other nicknames, are inexpensive, easy to find, and easy to buy. Unfortunately, we do not recommend using them.
Commercial Android Devices – There are several companies that have geared their devices toward Digital Signage and provide support for using them in these scenarios. Typically, the cost is higher for commercial Android devices, and you will still need to address other issues like security, remote management, and updates. Some companies provide these services for an additional cost or license fee. Usually, the cost factor of using a commercial Android device is higher than that of an equivalent Chrome device.
Some of the issues we have encountered testing generic Android media players are…
Updates – Devices rarely receive firmware updates to correct issues. Many are running very old versions of Android and will never be updated. There are still devices on the market today running Android versions from 8+ years ago, that have not and will not receive key updates for security.
Performance – Many devices are running generic firmware with poor performance, or missing features. We find that even with similar specifications, a Chrome device easily outperforms commonly sold Android boxes. We have encountered many Android devices with poor performance, cooling issues, media playback issues, and general freezing or crashing during content playback.
Security – Along with running old versions of Android and not receiving updates, many devices are configured or built in ways that leave the device vulnerable. To get the device to act properly for Digital Signage and Kiosks, many manufacturers modify the operating system and turn off or remove key features that keep the device protected from backdoors, attacks, and unauthorized applications. Very few of these devices have ANY Google support or backing, despite running unlicensed versions of the Google Play Store. Many of them have been ‘rooted’ or hacked to adjust core operating system features, because they were not designed for signage, and do not have a proper kiosk mode for use with digital signage.
Support – Most of the companies providing generic Android devices provide little after-sale support, especially for commercial use cases like Digital Signage where devices are running 24/7.
Quality – We have seen quality issues with the devices, cooling, components not matching specifications or changing between orders, and many failed power supplies after 24/7 use.
Lifecycle – The Android platform is designed for consumer phones and tablets. It has a one year release cycle. It has also suffered from major setbacks due to the lack of after-sale support from device manufacturers, with device manufacturers preferring you buy a new device.
Remote Management – Must supply your own secure remote management. No management features built in.
All of these considerations are things that a Chrome device, with Chrome Enterprise Management, will do out of the box. No extra time or money spent, just right into devices that display your Arreya Digital Signage quickly and easily.
While Arreya is compatible with nearly any modern device or OS that can display the web platform, there are still a number of key factors to consider when using a device for 24/7 digital signage.
We do not recommend or support using the built-in player of a Smart TV to display content with Arreya. While it may be possible on some displays, we have found the overall experience is not what our customers are looking for. We are always testing new devices and displays and will update this document as we find new options. We highly recommend and support using a Chrome device for the best experience with Arreya.
Most Smart TVs have issues with media playback and may be missing key features for other types of content. Most Smart TVs have issues displaying simple content with a web application like Arreya.
Updates & Security
It is rare for Smart TVs to receive updates, and we have seen several models that can no longer run content due to security changes. Smart TVs are typically on a 1yr lifecycle and are often outdated at the time of purchase.
We have not found any Smart TVs that can run content reliably in a production setting. Smart TVs lack remote management capabilities and will require human intervention.
Smart TV manufacturers provide little support on using the TVs for this purpose. If you encounter an issue, you are likely on your own for a workaround or fix.
A core goal of Arreya’s development team is to stay informed and constantly test the newest hardware and software that manufacturers have to offer. As a result of our extensive testing we found that Chrome OS devices provide the best experience. These devices offer easy device setup, deployment, and content delivery that works perfectly with Arreya.
Another benefit of Chrome OS devices with Chrome Enterprise Management is the ability to remotely manage the devices through the Google Admin console. To explain further, Chrome Enterprise Management simplifies the troubleshooting and deployment processes. Simply configure networks, reboot devices, fetch logs, take screenshots, and much more.
Arreya tries to remain platform agnostic while taking advantage of new browser features, and retaining backwards compatibility where possible. From user reports and previous testing, we have identified requirements and known issues for other common hardware choices. However this information is subject to change and cannot be guaranteed to work for every situation.
Minimum version requirement: Android 7.1 (Nougat)
Android is an open source operating system and can be compiled with core features missing.
Low-end Android media players frequently are shipped with Android builds missing drivers, hardware acceleration issues and missing video codecs.
Samsung Smart TV (TIZEN OS)
Minimum Samsung OS version: Tizen 3.0. Came in 2017 models, older models may be able to be updated
Older versions of Tizen are missing core browser features
General Smart TV/Mobile browser limitations (LG WebOS, etc.)
Limited memory and storage space could cause content failure and crashes
Concurrent video playback may be limited on any smart TV due to decoding hardware and software
Only fonts embedded in the TV will be used, other fonts may fail to display
Linux (RaspberryPi, Ubuntu, etc.)
Linux/Unix is a family of open source operating systems. Each version and build can be compiled with core features missing and frequently are missing required video decoders and codecs.
Additional package installation, configuration, and testing is required in every scenario.
Typical browser compatibility issues
Below is a list of browser features commonly missing from older, incompatible browsers. Arreya uses these features and requires them in order to properly run.