Raspberry Pi Digital Signage
One great use of the Raspberry Pi is as a dedicated digital signage machine. What this is is a controller for the large TVs you see in building lobbies and restaurants. We're thinking of putting one up at the family bakery. The big factor here is that for more or less just the cost of a Pi ($35) you have your hardware, plus the cost of the display itself which is separate from the system. There are some mature and not-so-mature open source solutions to this.
My favorite so far is Screenly. It started as an open source project, but was then taken in-house by a software company to give it the quality and finish of a production system. Also, it's the only option where it outputs the video natively using the Pi's HDMI port. Other options have the Pi boot up directly into a browser which acts as a client to a web server that serves up the content. By outputting content directly and natively, you've got better performance and less things to go wrong. For example, video plays natively if it's h.264 and I prefer that over trying to do the same in a browser.
The plan so far is to run down to Costco to get a 40" display for around $500, attach it to a swivel on the wall in the bakery using a standard VESA mount, and hook up the Pi to it via HDMI. The Pi only needs a power cable. It has a tiny USB WiFi adapter it'll use to stay connected to the network.
Screenly is managed via a browser interface from a website running on the Pi. You go to the Pi's URL and the management of the display is very easy and user friendly. With port forwarding, I can also manage it remotely off the bakery's network, although it doesn't have a login feature so I might not go that route.
Here's a summary of what I've considered so far:
Outputs using a native app instead of a browser.
How to fix overscan: http://techtips.easycloudsolutions.com/2012/07/17/raspberry-pi-hdmi-display-spills-off-screen-cut-off/
Uses client/server approach and the Pi displays the content in a browser. Mature solution.
https://groups.google.com/forum/?fromgroups#!topic/concerto-digital-signage/VbEZDhGWKZc - How to use it with a Pi
Uses a Server-Client model. You install the server software to manage the system. Then clients open up a web browser pointing to the server, and output that to a display. I’m not a fan of using the Pi to access it via a web browser, but this thing’s in production use so it seems viable. I’d prefer direct video feed.
Raspberry Digital Signage
Run by a single guy. Even if it works well, it’s not as well supported.