Ask the Board – September 16, 2019 | LAWRENCE CHANG


“SoC vs Media Players: With more and more manufacturers offering System on a Chip (SoC) solutions, what’s the tipping point end users need to consider when planning their solutions?”

SoC or Systems on a Chip have been around since 2012, and maybe even a little earlier than that, where an effective computer would reside right on the display itself, while the media player is a standalone unit, that either is mounted near the display, or uses different transmission technologies from a control room that allows a more controlled environment for the player. There are benefits and drawbacks to both.


Lower costs associated with power.  Because SoC is a smaller system in general, it requires fewer resources and pulls on the same power that already powers the display.   

Space savings. There is no requirement to mount any additional hardware, or use any type of transmission cabling to take the media source to the display.

All-in-one display simplicity. You’re effectively only dealing with a single piece of equipment instead of a minimum of two.

Installation time. Like the space savings, you’re using a single device, much simpler and cleaner, with no questions on where to put the player, how to mount it, or how to get cabling to it.

Media Player:

More versatile. It can play anything provided you configure the player correctly. For example, if you under-power the video card on the player, you may not be able to do what you want to do on a player, such as play content on a full 4K video wall. If, on the other hand, you configure correctly, you can do anything you’d like to do on a player.   

Flexible on applications. You can install anything new on a player, won’t struggle like an SoC due to potential cpu, RAM, or video processing capabilities.   

Powerful applications for video walls. SoC isn’t known for good 4K content, and media players can be whatever you want them to be.

Choosing between each means understanding your requirements, for now and for the foreseeable future. Personally, I prefer the media player, as I can scale up and down in requirements as needed, and repurpose for other uses if need be, such as just being a basic desktop computer.

About Author

Director, IT
Calgary TELUS Convention Centre

End User Council

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