Our goal at Userful is to make your experience with us a great one. We know you may have some questions as to how Userful works and what you need to get started. Here are some common questions and answers.
What is the Control Center?The Control Center is a browser-based management portal used to configure video wall and monitor displays. Its feature include:
- Station Mapping
- Configuring Video Walls
- Network Management
- Display settings
- Station access control
- Virtual Machines
- New package installation and updates
- License management and access to support
What host PC/servers are compatible with Userful?Please visit Hardware Guide for the complete list of certified host PC/servers.
Why does Userful recommend only Intel ® 4th generation Haswell based host PC/server for its software?Userful is highly optimized for Intel CPU and GPU hardware. This makes it easy to attain an excellent level of advance display performance. While it is technically possible to run Userful on older generation CPUs or brands other than Intel, the performance will not be acceptable. At present, only Intel® 4th generation CPUs will support hardware accelerated playback of 4096 x 4096 (4k) content and HTML 6K content. Intel® 2nd and 3rd generations can only decode up to 2k content without the aide of the CPU. Thus, if you play 4k content on 2nd or 3rd generation, it will not work efficiently. This is why we strongly recommend using Intel® 4th generation CPUs.
Does Userful require constant Internet connection? Can an Internet connection be over wireless network or cellular modems?No. Userful™ works fine without an Internet connection, provided all needed content is stored on the local PC. While getting a license key for the system is easier with an Internet connection, you can manage licensing without an Internet connection. If necessary, you can use WiFi or certain types of cellular modems to connect your Userful host to the internet. An internet connection is recommended if you require support from Userful.
Do I need to hire any expert to setup Userful?No, not at all. You don't need any professional installer to setup up Userful.
When do I need an Nvidia Offload Card?If you are running more than 9 1080p displays in a single video wall you will need a supported Nvidia card for GPU offloading. The Nvidia offload card renders higher video and image quality in a scaled video wall with a substantial improvement to synchronization, and can reduce CPU load by as much as 50%.
What kind of content can I play on a video wall?Userful's Video Wall feature is very versatile. It supports a broad range of both static and interactive content including:
- Tickers and crawls using RSS or text feeds
- Calendars, clocks, and other widgets (using integrated Content Management Solutions)
- WebGL, HTML5, Flash content
What types of integrated signage players can we run on the server (without any external media players or HDMI capture cards)?Currently, we supportbrowser-based content management solutions, including:
We are adding additional Content Management Systems all the time. If you have a specific CMS you would like to work with, please let us know.
Does your solution support multiple HDMI capture cards? What is the upper limit on the number of simultaneous inputs?Userful supports the Blackmagic DeckLink and YUAN line of HDMI capture cards. The Userful system can handle multiple input cards, limited only by the number of PCIe slots you can fit into your Userful host. You should contact us with details of your project if you intend on using multiple cards ahead of time.
Check our list of supported Blackmagic capture cards and YUAN capture
How do I configure my video wall?Visit the Configuring Video Wall page for detailed instructions.
Can I arrange my displays in an overlapping configuration?Yes, in an artistic video wall you can overlap displays arbitrarily, simply drag the displays on top of each other to create the desired overlap, then fine-tune your alignment using keyboard arrows. In a grid video wall you are allowed uniform vertical or/and horizontal overlapping
How should I optimize content for an ultra-wide video-wall (e.g., 1x7 or 1x10)?For optimal CPU utilization, it is best to encode content into h.264. Provided the maximum dimensions of the canvas (width or height) are kept below 4096 pixels, our system will leverage the built in hardware decoding of the Haswell GPU that will give you an additional significant performance advantage.
It is possible to exceed 4096 pixels, and if that is the case it is unlikely that a regular Haswell system (without the benefit of GPU decoding) could play back such a large native resolution (1920x7 = 13,440 x 1080p). For projects where there is a custom engineering budget, it is worth discussing the specifics of the needs with us as most projects can be solved with some special hardware and custom engineering time, but our stock product would not be able to handle a 1x7 aspect ratio at native resolution.
Another approach is to play multiple videos on an ultra-wide wall (e.g., two 1x3 videos on a 1x6 wall). Currently, we do not offer the option of frame synchronization between these different videos. If the videos do not require perfect synchronization you can certainly play two videos at once on the two halves of the wall.
What are the different audio output options for the video wall solution?There are 3 options:
- Pull sound from the sound output jacks on the Userful host. This typically provides the best quality sound output as you can get 5 or even 7 or more channels of sound from a Userful host, as opposed to just stereo sound at the zero client or display itself. This is recommended if sound will be via an overhead centrally controlled audio system which is located in the same room as the Userful host.
- Pull sound from the zero client device via the 3.5mm stereo audio output jack. One device will be designated as the control station for the video wall during creation of the session container and will provide audio output.
- Connect the display with an HDMI cable. This has the same quality as option #2 (stereo) but lets you use speakers built directly into the TV or display.
Can I make multiple content sources accessible from my video wall?Yes. Userful provides a unique feature called the “Welcome Screen” that lets you map multiple content containers to a single video wall. This is perfect for multi-purpose video walls where you can either map a single container to your video wall (in which case it appears in "kiosk" mode) or you can map multiple containers (which gives users a "Welcome Screen" at the start of each session). You can return to the Welcome Screen at any point by either ending the current session or pressing "Ctrl+Alt+Backspace" on a keyboard plugged into the zero client connected to any display of your video wall.
Can you split / subdivide individual displays into smaller zones?Though not supported directly within Userful, you can achieve the desired result by using various 3rd party content management systems. The Userful "Zones" feature enables individual sources (content management system, live TV, etc.) to span one or more whole displays. Many of the content management solutions which Userful integrates allow you to create and independently address multiple content zones within a single display (e.g. to have tickers across the bottom, etc.). Together these create a literally limitless range of creative possibilities.
How can I use input devices such as a keyboard and mouse with the video wall?A control station in the video wall configuration is the primary station designated for input and audio capabilities. Plug a keyboard or mouse into the control station's zero client device and make changes. Any action taken to this control station will have the same effect on the video wall as it would on an independent display. You can select the control station while configuring zones.
Can I use different displays (sizes and aspect ratios) within the mosaic-style (artistic) video wall (e.g., creating a heterogenous video wall)?Yes. Userful's video wall solution can correctly calibrate for different bezels, different models and even different brands of display and can correctly calibrate everything into a single video wall. Userful’s built in color calibration can also help you correct any color discrepancies between displays, even across different makes and models. You should ensure all the selected displays use the same panel technology such as IPS or MVA.
IPS panels provide the best color uniformity and viewing angles. Other technologies can exhibit contrast and gamma shift when viewed at off angles.