Digital Signage Display vs. TV: Understanding the Differences

May 7, 2024

This article will demystify the technical and practical differences between digital signage displays and traditional TVs, enabling businesses and consumers to choose the most appropriate technology based on their specific needs and environments.

When considering digital signage monitor vs tv monitors, you might think that they work the same way. After all, when you are comparing digital signage display vs. TV display options, they both provide a way for you to share information with customers or clients and they both serve as digital screens. 

However, there are differences in the display technologies, connectivity and integration, cost, lifespan, and content management opportunities. For these reasons, it's important to choose the right type of display for your specific business or personal needs.

Digital signage display vs. TV

Is there a difference between digital signage and TV? Yes!

At its core, the biggest difference between digital signage and TV has to do with the display technologies, integration options, lifespan, and operation. 

However, digital signage can be easily incorporated into your business when you turn any old TV into a sign. Standard retail TVs can offer a way to quickly and easily incorporate display material into any setting. 

Purpose and Usage

A traditional television is the same type of unit that you might have in your home. It is meant to display information or show programs. A digital signage display, which is a commercial technology intended to display information for a business, does much the same thing but with adjusted graphics and lifespan qualities.  

Display Technologies

The display technology incorporated into a digital signage monitor is much brighter with a higher contrast ratio. Traditional televisions have maximum brightness levels around 350 cd/m2 but that exceeds 2500 for a display screen. These two features make it a much better option for clear, bright displays compared to traditional television screens.

However, with traditional TVs you can make digital signs by linking programs, images, even menu items on display with ease. 

You can invest in different sizes or shapes so that you have display screens big enough to fit your space and properly display your information. You can even turn a traditional television into a standalone unit by constructing a mount for it, or placing several back to back so that they form a circular information point. 

Connectivity and Integration

Digital signage is intended to give you advertising space at all hours. Traditionally, televisions are only meant to run intermittently with limited connectivity and integration. However, with a television you can make it into a digital signage with a direct connection through something like a television cable, an HDMI cable, or a USB stick. Use of certain hardware can make it possible to connect a TV to wi-fi, bluetooth, and much more.

digital signage display or tv screen

Cost Considerations for Digital Signage Monitor vs. TV

When you look at the upfront cost of a television, it appears to be much cheaper compared to the cost of digital signage. 

With commercial digital signage monitors you'll also need to purchase supporting hardware for the new digital signage marketing solution. 

The biggest difference between digital signage and TV in terms of cost is that televisions are fully functioning systems, so there's no additional software needed to display any of your company content, and instead, you have all of the items you need to manage things like tuners and sound. By comparison, digital signage displays function like standalone monitors, which means they don't work unless you have other software and support.

So this means you can save money by investing in a digital signage strategy that uses the televisions you already have without having to purchase additional screens, speakers, or other hardware. Many televisions come with warranties which means they are already under protection and they don't tend to need any type of software pushes or updates as they are standalone units. 

Lifespan and Durability

When looking at digital signage monitor vs. TV monitor lifespans, regular TVs can now offer comparable quality and durability compared to more expensive, commercial digital signage. This makes it feasible for any company to invest in digital signage strategies more affordably. 

Digital signage displays are intended to be in use continually. To achieve that, they are made with more durable, commercial grade LCD panels and they include extra features like ventilation and cooling fans to make sure that they can maintain the appropriate temperature during the entirety of their operation.

Content Management and Operation

One of the downsides to televisions is that content management is limited to whatever you have at your business.

For example:

  1. A salon can choose a television display if they can connect the television to local cable or Wi-Fi connections in order to show movies to their patrons while they complete their services, but that same salon would be subject to things like commercials and availability of display material that is not necessarily related to their company.
  2. A restaurant that chooses a television display and connects a laptop with an HDMI cable might be able to locally control the displays, playing through slideshows or posting updated menu items on the screen, but if anything else should go wrong they wouldn't have any remote troubleshooting access nor would they have a lot of other options for content management from third parties.

Making the Right Choice for Your Needs

As demonstrated in the two examples above, making the right choice for your needs is based on things like:

  • Your audience
  • The environment
  • Content needs

That same nail salon that only needs to provide something for patrons to watch while they get their nails done doesn't necessarily need digital signage, but if they want to be able to digitally display prices and menu options with easy updates, they might consider both.

By comparison, companies that want to offer interactive content like social media connectivity or QR codes to encourage more sales might need a content manager to handle the operations of their digital material with better troubleshooting opportunities, in which case a digital screen would be the only reasonable choice.

If you are deciding between a digital signage monitor vs. TV monitor, consider the quality of the display you want, whether or not you need to be able to manage evolving content, or whether the screen is simply there to provide stagnant information that doesn't need to be updated or managed.


Televisions for digital display purposes are the same thing you would have in your home, and they offer a way to quickly convert a regular television into a place for digital signage displays. you don't have to purchase expensive commercial digital signage monitors in order to capitalize on the digital marketing world. Always consider your audience, the environment, and your content needs. When you are deciding between the two, it's important to consider your specific needs and circumstances so that you can make the right investment.

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