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Video Review: Westinghouse Digital Electronics neonNow and neonSource

Jun 8, 2009 12:00 PM, By Jeff Sauer

Software-and-player combination offers a professional-looking entry into basic digital signage.


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Westinghouse Digital Electronics neonNow and neonSource

I’m always a little skeptical when a hardware company tries its hand at software. Too often, the results seem like home-grown reinventions of the proverbial wheel. So when LCD-maker Westinghouse Digital first introduced the neonNow and neonSource digital signage software products last year, my first thought was, “Here we go again.” Yet I came away from an initial demonstration pleasantly surprised and eager to take a closer look.

Westinghouse Digital Electronics is now shipping both neon software products, along with a proprietary hardware neonPlayer, which are available bundled with specific LCD models as turnkey digital signage solutions and as standalone digital signage creation tools ($799 for each software application, $1,699 for the neonPlayer). Both applications fill an important niche as digital signage proliferates toward broader usage. For the most part, Westinghouse has a good start building its own, even if these new wheels aren’t perfectly round quite yet.

NeonNow and neonSource were originally designed to help jump-start the full-of-promise digital signage business. They were created to help Westinghouse take advantage of emerging interest in digital signage in order to sell more LCD panels. The objective for both applications was to create easy-to-use tools that would allow everyday business professionals—that is, those who are not creative design professionals—to build and update handsome digital signage messages and playlists.

NEONNOW

NeonNow is the more intuitive of the two applications, with a straightforward point-and-click approach that puts everything in front of the user. A preview window occupies the right side of the interface, while the left side essentially toggles between two different views.

The first of these views is the content library, which includes several design templates or backgrounds to which you can add text. Like typical PowerPoint slides, each has a larger header/title-text area and a body-text area. Click on one, and it automatically appears in the preview window. Type new text in the editor boxes, and your text immediately shows up in the same preview. NeonNow automatically, elegantly fades in background then text.

Your own logos, images, and videos populate the content-frame area, and clicking on any of these puts it in the preview window. Duration pulldown menus for hours, minutes, and seconds allow you to set the timing for each slide or image independently. Click the big green check box with anything in the preview window, and the interface mode changes with your new slide, image, or video already in the Content Wheel or timeline.

It’s called a wheel because it’s a vertically descending list of content with a browser-like scroll bar along the right side so you can spin and see your list, with text and duration for each clearly visible. You can toggle content up and down in the timeline to reorder, and when you’re satisfied, all you do is hit play. NeonNow takes over the full screen and plays your digital signage material. It’s that simple. What’s more, neonNow can be set to play content on a panel in landscape or portrait orientation.



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