ViewSonic, Userful extend partnership into digital signage with inexpensive video walls

In addition to a significant extension of their partnership with Calgary’s Userful, ViewSonic also announced an improved version of the “Do-It-Yourself” digital signage software solutions it has been selling with Best Wave, as well as a new 98-inch CDP9800 Ultra HD commercial display.


The ViewSonic CDP9800

Visual technology hardware vendor ViewSonic and Calgary-based desktop virtualization software vendor Userful Corporation formed a strategic partnership in late 2014 to produce a low-priced joint hardware-software VDI bundle. Now they have extended that partnership, leveraging the Userful platform in another of ViewSonic’s core areas, to provide a new suite of high-end but low priced video wall and video-over-IP solutions.

The original VDI-focused offerings fell short of expectations because larger players jumped into the market they were targeting.

“We continue to be very excited about the Userful technology,” said Mike Holstein, Vice President of Business Development and Emerging Technologies for ViewSonic Americas. “The sales of the original solution may not have achieved some of the numbers we originally expected, but that’s because of the dynamics of the market. Microsoft and Google both came out with new solutions targeting the education market in the U.S. We still see opportunities for the original solution there, and have had some good success outside the U.S., in Latin America in particular.”

The video wall leverages the same Userful multi-platform that delivers the virtual desktop.

“It’s the same core technology,” said Daniel Griffin, VP Multiplied Computing at Userful. “These are related challenges in terms of technologies. We really see the performance of our solution in the LAN as one of our great strengths. We have had partners come to us asking what we can do with digital signage.”

The solutions have a major price advantage over their competition, but there are some major quality innovations as well.

“While there are many different ways to sync displays, we have come up with some exciting firsts.” Griffin said. “The delivery of 6k content to a video wall over the network in real time is an industry first.” The video wall deployment solutions support advanced video wall features, including artistic, mosaic-style video walls (individual displays set to any angle and placed ad-hoc anywhere on the video wall canvas) and multi-zone multi-source video walls (allowing end-user controlled presets to play multiple content streams on different preset zones within the video wall).

“This allows users to set up different displays in different sizes in an angled situation to provide a WOW effect, and to do that without it being beyond their budget,” Griffin said.

“In a typical video wall, you would have a high performance PC at each display, and here there is just one central PC, distributing everything to almost a thin client device, all synchronized by the back end,” Holstein said. “That’s what lets it hit these very aggressive prices.” The walls allow up to 40 displays at 4K resolution by using just a single standard PC and up to 60 displays at 4K resolution with a single high-end PC.

Two models are available. The ViewSonic SW-014 Video Wall Deployment Solution, Powered by Userful, has an MSRP of $USD 599.00. It lets users deploy standard grid video walls, and delivers a mix of content to multiple video walls or independent displays. There is an optional failover server feature for high system availability. Users can expand their systems simply by adding an additional zero client media player. All setup and configuration can be done remotely from a browser-based control panel. Mirror mode allows the system to display the same content simultaneously across multiple video walls and digital signs.

The ViewSonic SW-015 Artistic Video Wall Deployment Solution, Powered by Userful, has the same features as the SW-014 but with added support for multiple simultaneous sources in preset zones for artistic video wall configurations. Each individual display can be rotated at any angle and placed anywhere within the canvas. The preset zones let users display different content within areas of a video wall, and easily change them. This video wall solution provides added simplicity and flexibility compared to other artistic/mosaic video wall solutions. It has an MSRP of $USD 999.00.

Griffin said that some high end walls that the Artistic competes against could cost over $100,000 with all the displays and PCs, while their product can do it for $10,000 – a fraction of the price.

“We’ve been selling video walls for 6-7 years now, and what we see happening is this market is growing significantly,” Holstein said. “More and more companies use video walls to communicate because they are eye catching. This multi-platform lets us take what has been a 2×2 video wall and make it much more attention grabbing. We look on this as extending or product portfolio into a more artistic offering, but at a fraction of the cost of market alternatives.”

ViewSonic also announced an extension of its long-term partnership with Best Wave, to deliver DisplayIt!Xpress, an improved version of the “Do-It-Yourself” digital signage software solutions it has been selling.

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Mike Holstein, Vice President of Business Development and Emerging Technologies for ViewSonic Americas

“Back when we first got into digital signage, we had a unique solution, and it would dazzle and wow the customer, but then their question would come back to – ‘how do I create my content?’” Holstein said. “This required HTML5 development coding, which wasn’t as pervasive then. Over the years, as we continued to sell digital signage, we heard the same theme of how does the customer make and manage their content.”

Holstein said their answer was a first generation package from Best Wave, DisplayIt!, which incorporated PowerPoint Shows, Flypaper, Flash, digital video, images, and web sites, which they sold for years.

“The new product is the evolution of that product, which we have simplified and enhanced with new capabilities and full integration with Microsoft Office,” Holstein said. “A lot of capabilities in Office and PowerPoint make it easy to develop content. We’ve leveraged that and come up with this simple way for users to manage it.”

DisplayIt!Xpress, which is aimed at customers from SMBs to large enterprises and government, provides a simple interface for managing digital signs. Support for both Windows and Android media players accommodate a wide range of hardware options, with the scalability for easy expansion. Users can build a playlist from existing content in seconds, or create new signage presentations with PowerPoint and other familiar applications. Optional on-screen widgets include clock, calendar, weather, and scrolling text or RSS feed. Content updates are delivered by LAN, WAN, shared folder, cloud storage or USB drive.

DisplayIt!Xpress is available now from ViewSonic for an MSRP of $USD 400.

Finally, ViewSonic announced a new 98-inch CDP9800 Ultra HD commercial display. With eight feet of video wall real estate from a single screen, and 4K Ultra HD (3840×2160) resolution, the single wall display is targeted for messaging in public venues, retail outlets, and transportation hubs.

It has 500 nits of brightness, an 8ms response time and wide viewing angles of 178/178 degrees, comes with dual 10W built-in speakers, and is integrated with vController software for an intuitive interface. It is now available for a MSRP of $USD 29,999.