Playback Comparison: Media Players and Video Wall Controllers

Posted by Jami McGraw on Wed, Oct, 07, 2015 @ 13:10 PM

We will be comparing the different playback functionality of media players compared to video wall controllers. We will then discuss playback scenarios and which system would be the best solution for it.

Let’s first breakdown what each system’s main function is.

Media Player Function: A media player is a small form-factor device that delivers media to one or multiple displays directly.

Video Wall Controller Function: A video wall controller is a device with multiple inputs and outputs that can capture and distribute content to multiple displays; either independent or aggregate.

In most scenarios, both of these devices will deliver content with the aid of a content management system (CMS).

Second let’s look under the hood:

  Media Player Video Wall Controller
Graphics Integrated Discrete
Monitors Supported Up to 6 Up to 28
Playback 1080p–2160p 1080p–2160p
Video Output mDP, DP, HDMI, DVI mDP, DP, HDMI, DVI
Storage Up to 1TB Up to 20TB
Power Draw <150W <1600W

playback comparison

Playback Scenarios

Our first scenario has a customer running a QSR (quick serve restaurant) and requires eight independent menu boards, all which can be revised on a timer to accommodate breakfast, lunch, and dinner menus. This content is deployed from a management server to the entire chain of stores. A scenario like this would be ideal for the Seneca HDN. This player is capable of pushing dual independent screens, and is easily mounted behind the displays. This player is available with a turnkey content management system (CMS), like Scala, to provide easy integration with the entire chain of QSRs. In this regard, four of the Seneca HDN would power the eight menu boards, all while communicating with the central server scheduling to ensure proper menus are displayed at the correct time.

A Customer is doing an installation at a major metropolitan museum for our next scenario. The build requires two independent 4 x 4 video walls running at a 16K x 8K resolution on a stretched screen environment. Since these walls will be on opposing sides of a large atrium, both video walls need to be synced to one another as well. Such a scenario would be ideal for the Seneca VWC-PLUS. Each system would run 16 outputs while leveraging our custom parallel sync technology. This will ensure that each controller keep all 16 screens in sync to prevent screen tearing and that both 4 x 4 walls are locked to a single master clock—ensuring smooth consistent playback.

Our final scenario is about a client that wants to display a 3 x 2 series of monitors in a large mall kiosk area. Each will function independently, at times displaying advertisements independently with local news and event calendars, as well as transitioning into one large display. This kiosk will have touch interface in a highly interactive environment. There will be a Kinect camera there, NFC beacons will be present to allow for easy use as well as analytics for the advertising agency.

A scenario like this could in most circumstances be a media player or a video wall controller. Adding the value of a discrete GPU to the equation, one could easily power six displays, manage a touch interface, capture and analyze data from Kinect camera, while interfacing control signals from an RS232. From a specification and capability standpoint, one could meet the criteria with a single Seneca HD2.5 media player or the line of Seneca video wall controllers. The solution that would best suit the given scenario would herein lie with the integrator. Below are some pros and cons to weigh when selecting the right solution.

  • Lower cost
  • Single system to maintenance/manage
  • Smaller form factor (mounts within kiosk or behind screen)
  • Limited performance headroom
  • No additional expansion options
VWC (2U) 
  • More display options (up to 12 displays)
  • Slightly higher cost than the HD2.5, but still a moderately low cost system
  • Single system to maintenance/manage
  • Rackable 2U form factor
  • Rack may not be option in the installation scenario
  • Limited performance headroom (CPU and memory)
  • Large expansion options (up to 28 displays)
  • Lots of power headroom (CPU, memory)
  • Lower cost per display in
  • One system to maintenance/manage
  • Rack may not be an option in the installation scenario
  • Higher total cost of installation


We have compared media players with videos walls and explored the capabilities of both. Did you know which system was the right solution for the scenarios? The benefit of having Seneca in your corner is we can offer you training to know when to offer one over another and vice versa. We will continually be by your side to train and help guide you through your projects to make sure you have the best solution.

You've read about the differences in media players and video wall controllers, now learn how the Seneca engineers combined both in our latest webinar on May 26th. Our new solution, the Seneca VWC-MINI takes the roaring performance of a video wall controller into the design of a purring media player. 


Topics: media player

Posted by Jami McGraw

Jami McGraw has worked in partnership with Seneca Data since 2010, and officially became part of the Seneca Family in 2014 as a Product Development manager focused on the Digital Broadcast market. Jami is also a producer, engineer, author and technologist specializing in the design of Audio and Video computers and appliances.

Follow Me

Subscribe via E-mail