IPTV Receiver Overview – BrightSign Media Players

BS XD1032-1132-angled

We are constantly evaluating IPTV receivers, evaluating streaming capability, options for creating and updating playlists, and how well they perform in an integrated system control environment. In general, there are two classes of players:

  • Basic IPTV players that present a list of titles, selected by an IR remote. Simple setup for playlist, select from list with IR remote. Some support RS-232/CEC TV control.
  • Integration IPTV players that support a full range of interactive control. More involved programming to author IPTV selection, RS-232/CEC TV control and integrated control capability.
  • For broadcasters, models are available for Zizi playback – up to 4K.

See Also:

The BrightSign HD2, XD and 4K players ($350-$650 MSRP) are among the few fully integrated players, with a variety of playback and control options:

  • Playback of unicast/multicast UDP, RTP, RTSP, and HLS streams, as well as internet-driven HTTPS video.
  • Supports MPEG2/MPEG4, MPEG5 on 4K models
  • GPIO inputs and closures
  • UDP control from control systems, onboard Web page and a BrightSign IOS app
  • RS-232, USB and IR control options are available on selected models
  • Control output for RS-232, IR and HDMI display control via CEC, using video on/off for EnergyStar TV power control – all controlled by schedule or event triggers
  • Update programming of all players over SD cards, a local network, or using the BrightSign cloud to automate updates for local and remote players

Once you get into the art of programming BrightSign players, you can take advantage of other features, such as:

  • Switching to a site digital signage presentation when it’s not used for IPTV playback (Tip: Keep both presentations at the same resolution).
  • XD and 4K models can stream video content

Whew! That’s a lot more than just playing IPTV! One thing to consider is that setting up a BrightSign for running an interactive playlist is more work than creating an Amino or Exterity playlist – but you will have more integration options.

Programming Basics

Integrating a BrightSign player isn’t an instant install – you’ll have to create the application for media playback and control. As with other programmable solutions, you’ll need time to develop expertise to deliver a successful installation.

I wouldn’t call myself an expert BrightSign developer, but I can save you a few steps in the learning process.

BrightAuthor App

BrigjhtAuthor

You can download the app for free, and spend some time getting familiar with how it works. I have a sample file I’ve created to select two streams using UDP control and the BrightSign app you can download at the end of this blog.

First Steps

Set the player up for local networking, reviewing the link below:

http://support.brightsign.biz/hc/en-us/articles/218066067

Then you can publish directly to the player without removing the card.

  • Get a couple SD cards – the players don’t have internal memory – the card is the drive. You can sneakernet shows and firmware updates by copying files to the card and inserting it into the player.
  • Get a player. Its’ hard to see the results of your programming without one. The HD 220 is a fine player to start with – It does not have USB ports or RS232. So control can only be done with UDP or contact closure. If you choose models like the HD1022 or XD1032 with USB ports and RS232 ports you can then control them with IR or RS232. For IR you need an external IR receiver supplied by a Brightsign partner.
  • Create a folder to save all your BrightSign shows, graphics, video and documents.
  • Download the manuals, for XD (and some HD help) get the Media Server Developer’s Guide with more tech info on streaming and formats.
  • Get a couple SD cards – the players don’t have internal memory – the card is the drive. You can sneakernet shows and firmware updates by copying files to the card and inserting it into the player.
  • Get a player. Its’ hard to see the results of your programming without one. The HD 220 is a fine player to start with – you’ll need the XD series to add IR control, other models add USB and RS-232 ports.
  • Create a folder to save all your BrightSign shows, graphics, video and documents.
  • Download the manuals, for XD (and some HD help) get the Media Server Developer’s Guide with more tech info on streaming and formats.

Video Review

Programming Overview

BS-Program image

The Interactive mode presents events as objects. Here’s what’s going on in this example:

  • The CR image is the Home object
  • The two UDP lines connect the two streams to Home
  • The URL events are programmed to launch streams
    • The Video Stream is triggered by UDP text “playvideo”
    • The Signage Stream is triggered by UDP text  “playsignage”
    • Both will play continuously until stopped
  • The two UDP arrows return the player to Home when UDP “stop is sent

Programming Tips

  • All IPTV apps will be set up as Interactive presentations. You’ll drag Event objects on to the pallet and create event relationships for automation
  • You set the UDP port, I/O functions and other attributes in the File/Presentation Properties once you open a presentation file.
  • Streaming formats include:
    • UDP/RTP Unicast udp://IP_address:port (use IP address of the player)
    • UDP/RTP Multicast udp://IP_address:port (use the source multicast address)
    • There many more in the Developer’s Guide
  • You create UDP commands with the UDP object, defining a text string that triggers the event and a name for the event (the events show up as buttons using the BrightSign IOS app)
  • If you want, use a few wires into the GPIO port to trigger events – handy when you don’t have a network – or an iPhone (not sure there’s an Android app
  • You definitely want the player on your network. Go the Tools/Setup BrightSign menu to define a name and password (keep it simple for now) and wired DHCP/Static operation. Save to an SC card, boot up the player with the card, then reboot without the card. You’ll see the IP address on the blank screen. You can also update the firmware at the same time, if you want.
  • Create a very basic app, say one zone, and go to the Publish tab. You’ll be prompted to save the file. You can select Local Storage at the top to save to the SD card, or choose Local Network.
  • Select Local Network; then choose New Unit under Publish. Enter the IP address of the player to connect the unit to Bright Author.
  • As you experiment, it seems the player sometimes locks up when you use an invalid streaming command (for me, other stuff I did as well). There is a Reset hole in back for that purpose – or reboot without a card. Once you know what you’re doing – it doesn’t happen much.
  • When you change files from the network, the player starts up by itself. Sometimes you need to reboot the player using the SD card.
  • You’re on your own for defining IR codes to trigger events – my player didn’t have that option.
  • The IPhone app is great. It found my player; I entered the name and password, and the Event buttons appear. Nice.
  • For typical home or office testing, use Unicast streams. Your IT team may prefer you do this on an offline network – ask before doing streaming. Most sites aren’t setup properly for multicast streams.

iOS App

BS - iphone

I downloaded the iOS app, pointed it to the BrightSign URL, and the control page pops right up.

Web Page

If you don’t have an iPhone, here’s another way to test operation:

  • Download the .zip from here https://github.com/brightsign/local-web-server and extract it
  • In BrightAuthor go to File –> Presentation Properties –> Variables tab and switch to Custom device web page
  • Give it whatever name and then browse to example-w-udp.html in the folder you got from github
  • Save and republish the presentation
  • You can now access the variable page by going to the local IP of the BrightSign followed by port 8008 (ex: 168.1.100:8008) in a web browser on a device on the same LAN as the BrightSign
  • If prompted for credentials input the Local Web Server credentials specified when the player was setup
  • Now you can see the Event buttons you’ve created on a Web page. Not fancy, but they work.

BS-Web

Here’s the Web page. Obviously, I could dress it up with some HTML programming, but it does the job to test Events.

If you want a sample of my BrightSign IPTV app, click here to ask for a copy.

Like to know more on IP and RF convergence? Watch our RF/IP Convergence Webinar, hosted by Sound and Video Communications. After viewing, you can take a short test and earn 1 InfoComm Academy credit!