Digital Signage with Google's Chromecast

Google's Chromecast is a popular media device, but we don't recommend buying it for digital signage. Here, we give you some alternatives to ensure you're getting the best bang for your buck.

Media Players

May 2019

Digital Signage with Google's Chromecast

Google's Chromecast is a great, affordable media device, but we don't recommend buying it for digital signage. Here, we give you some alternatives to ensure you're getting the best bang for your buck.

Should you use Chromecast for digital signage?

The short answer is, no.

At the heart of it, the Chromecast is a pretty dumb device. It's not particularly powerful, and has minimal storage. Instead, it mostly relies on the processing power and rendering power of the device you use to fling content to it. Yes, that means that your Android phone probably is a lot more powerful than your Chromecast device. 

The other problem is that the Chromecast is really just a display device, and you can't really install apps on the Chromecast. For ScreenCloud digital signage specifically, the Chromecast doesn't support some important features like offline usage, multi-zone layouts or certain advanced, power hungry apps, which many alternative devices at the same, or lower costs, do.

Despite the downsides mentioned above, we previously developed a workaround so that our customers, who had already purchased the Chromecast, could still use it to display ScreenCloud.

So if it's technically possible, you may be asking, why are we still saying that you shouldn't use a Chromecast for digital signage? The answer is in the alternatives. It costs $35 for the standard Chromecast model and $69 for the Chromecast Ultra, which supports 4K video. For the same price you can get a much more powerful device that is better suited to digital signage in the form of an Amazon Fire TV or Android device, or for a bit more, even a Chrome OS or Windows device.

What media device should you use as an alternative to Chromecast for digital signage?

As we explained earlier, for around the same price as a Chromecast, there are devices that are more powerful and better suited to digital signage. Let's take a closer look at the available options.

Amazon Fire TV devices

Our first choice in this price range are Amazon's Fire TV devices. We recommend the 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV Stick, which costs $39.99. This device only ships from six countries though, so for international shipping you'll want to look at the Fire TV Stick Basic Edition, which costs $49.99 and basically has exactly the same specs and power as the 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV Stick.

Amazon Fire TV devices are easy to set up, have fast WiFi and official Ethernet adapters, connect via HDMI and come with 1 year warranty. Unlike the Chromecasts they also work offline and support advanced apps and multi-zone layouts.

Android Media Boxes

Another option in this price range are Android media boxes. With an Android box you're getting quite a similar experience to an Amazon Fire TV device, as they both run Android apps and specs are quite similar. Pricing varies, with devices available for anywhere from $40 to $140.

Android boxes are easy to set up, have fast WiFi and some come with Ethernet ports. They connect via HDMI and can handle just about any type of content, have more storage for cached media files than Amazon Fire TV devices, and can work offline and support advanced apps and multi-zone layouts.

The problem with getting an Android box is that there aren't many recognized hardware manufacturers making them, which means most options will be from a brand you don't know, and shipping, support and warranty can be tricky. Because of this, we recommend the Xiaomi Mi Box S, which is made by a major manufacturer, is available in many regions and comes with 1 year warranty and a 30-day return policy. It costs $59 in the US.

Asus Chromebit

If you're willing to spend a bit more, there are other great devices for digital signage in the form of Chrome OS and Windows 10 devices like the Asus Chromebit at around $89, which runs Chrome OS, or the Intel Compute Stick, which runs Windows 10 and starts at around $119.

 

So, in summary…

The Chromecast is a great device for personal use, but is not a good option for running digital signage. There are other great devices in the same price range that are more powerful and better suited for digital signage, our first choice recommendation being the 2nd Generation Amazon Fire TV Stick, with the Xiaomi Mi Box S as a good second option.

We’re always working hard to give our users more support so if you need help choosing the right digital signage device or have any further questions, get in touch with us at support@screencloud.com.

chromecastdigital signagescreencloudscreencloud signagechromecast alternativeschromecast proschromecast cons