Using a Raspberry Pi display for digital signage

A Raspberry Pi display and all required components. This image is from the Raspberry Pi Foundation.

When people ask us which screens they should use for their digital signage, people often expect a make and model number for a standard TV screen. However, we sometimes recommend a Raspberry Pi display. In this article, we’ll highlight your options for a Raspberry Pi display. Ideally, this information will help you make an informed choice on which type of display screen to use with your digital signage deployment.

What can I use as a display for my Raspberry Pi besides a TV?

A Raspberry Pi display is your alternative to a TV screen for a digital display. The official Raspberry Pi display is the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s 7” touch screen monitor, aptly named the Raspberry Pi Touch Display.

The Raspberry Pi 7-inch Touch Display is an 800x400 LCD screen that resembles a tablet to the everyday user. The Raspberry Pi display connects to Raspberry Pi devices via the Pi’s GPIO port (for power) and the Pi’s DSI port (via ribbon cable for media data).

At just 7 inches, this screen is obviously smaller than a standard TV screen. However, with its small size, it is excellent for certain digital sign deployments, such as desk digital signs or small digital signs that display meeting room schedules.

Where can I find a 13-inch screen for my Raspberry Pi?

You may want a bigger Raspberry Pi display for your digital sign. People often search for compatible 13-inch screens for their Raspberry Pi. This screen size is a typical size for most laptop computers, and it gives a bit more real estate compared to the Raspberry Pi Touch Display.

To find a Raspberry Pi display that is 13 inches or more, simply search on Amazon. While we do not recommend any particular display, there are dozens of options to choose form. Any screen that accepts HMDI input (almost every screen) will be compatible with your Raspberry Pi.

Where can I buy a 4.5-inch display that’s compatible with a Raspberry Pi?

For a variety of reasons, some people prefer a smaller Raspberry Pi display. One popular dimension is 4.5 inches. Note that there are more 4.3-inch Raspberry Pi displays on the market than 4.5-inch displays. However, both sizes are available for purchase.

As with the larger screens, simply visit Amazon to find a supplier. Any display screen that can connect via HDMI or DSI-port ribbon cable will be compatible with your Raspberry Pi device.

Is the Raspberry Pi 3 compatible with any HDMI touch screen?

Compatibility between Raspberry Pi devices and Raspberry Pi display screens really comes down to the available ports. The list of compatible devices includes the popular Raspberry Pi Model 3 B and B+ models, as these devices feature an HDMI port. To display content on an HDMI touch screen, all a user has to do is connect their Raspberry Pi 3 device to their HDMI touch screen. This connection requires nothing more than a standard HDMI cable.

While the Raspberry Pi Model 3 B and B+ currently have more users, note that the new Raspberry Pi 4 is also compatible with HDMI touch screens.

Using a Raspberry Pi display for digital signage

To have a digital sign with a Raspberry Pi and Raspberry Pi display, you need digital signage software. Digital signage software will allow you to manage, schedule, and display content easily on your Raspberry Pi display screen.

Users can install Screenly digital signage software on Raspberry Pi Model 3 devices via flashing the software on the Raspberry Pi’s SD card. This software then runs on the Raspberry Pi device and allows the Raspberry Pi to process content and render this content to the Raspberry Pi display. With digital signage software, users can show image, video, and even live web-page content on a Raspberry Pi display.

A component of Screenly’s digital signage software is the Screenly web interface. Using the Screenly web interface, users can upload and schedule content from anywhere with an internet connection. Users can also view the health status of each Raspberry Pi display and quickly see if any of their screens experience playback issues.

For larger digital signage deployments, users can group multiple Raspberry Pi displays into a single “Group.” Users can then change the content for each screen in a Group all at once. Additionally, larger teams enjoy multi-user support with Screenly. This feature allows teams to give each employee their own account with employee-specific permissions.

Raspberry Pi display use cases

As they say, form follows function. There are several digital signage use cases where a Raspberry Pi display screen is the perfect choice for a screen.

One of these use cases is with desk digital signage. The Raspberry Pi 7 inch touchscreen display fits perfectly on any desk or workstation. The screen is small enough not to be a nuisance, and also large enough to display detailed content. With desk digital signage, users can display company metrics, meeting times, and important company updates to employees. At Screenly, we are a remote team, and team members use Raspberry Pi displays on their desks to stay up-to-date and in-the-loop on company metrics and upcoming meetings.

Another important use case for Raspberry Pi displays is for co-working space digital signage. For large shared workspaces, coordinating meeting room bookings is always a hassle. To address this pain point, users can mount a Raspberry Pi display outside of each meeting room. Users can then display the schedule for each room in real-time via Screenly.

What’s next? Where do I get a Raspberry Pi display?

If you are convinced that a Raspberry Pi display is right for you, the first step is purchasing your hardware. You can buy Raspberry Pi displays via suppliers listed on the Raspberry Pi Foundation’s official page for the Raspberry Pi Touch Display. For Raspberry Pi displays with more unique dimensions, simply search for these screen sizes on Amazon.

Next, to set up your Raspberry Pi display as a digital sign, get started with Screenly. You can register for a Screenly account here. If you have any questions or have trouble getting started, please reach out to Screenly Support. We’re always happy to help!