What is a Video Wall?The Video Wall feature in Userful is used to send synchronized high-resolution graphical content to an array of displays simultaneously. This is achieved via the Userful Control Center. Video walls are commonly used in advertising, Cinemas, museums, network monitoring, etc. With the Userful software, a single Userful host is able to output one or more video walls over a network.
In what environments is Userful ideal?Userful is ideal for signage installations in retail, corporate, entertainment and hospitality environments, as well as control room video wall solutions in security, process control, transportation, and more.
What is an Artistic or Mosaic Video Wall?Sometimes called a mosaic-style video wall, the Userful’s Artistic feature enables you to intermix different sizes of displays and configure them at any angle to create a truly unique and eye-catching video wall canvas. Userful’s unique and powerful interactive pixel-perfect calibration tool enables you to set up these unique configurations in minutes.
How do I configure my video wall?Visit the Configuring Video Wall page for detailed instructions
Is Userful’s integrated Color Calibration compatible with my displays?Color Calibration is achieved by adjusting color values directly at the Userful client rather than adjusting settings within the display itself. This design ensures compatibility across a broad range of displays as well as having the further advantage of being able to calibrate color on video walls comprised of a heterogeneous mix of different displays. To learn more about color calibration, visit Configuring Video Wall
How do I create content for an artistic video wall?Userful is designed to make video wall content creation simple and straightforward. No special steps are required to create content for your artistic video wall.
The canvas is a bounding rectangle that encloses all the pixels of all the displays within the video wall. For HTML5 content, the Userful host will launch a browser window of exactly the same height and width as the video wall canvas. You can either create content optimized for this aspect ratio, design the layout of your artistic video wall to match a desired aspect ratio, or use responsive design techniques when building your HTML content so that it adapts cleanly to a variety of aspect ratios.
If you are playing video content, it will play your video centered horizontally and vertically, and give you options to stretch, scale, or zoom content to fit any canvas.
What are the resolution limitations of Userful?
Userful supports a very wide variety of content sources, resolutions and media types. Get in touch with a Userful representative by emailing firstname.lastname@example.org with details of your project, and we'll be happy to answer any questions you have.
Can I choose the size of the canvas for my video wall?Canvas size is dynamically optimized based on the screen resolution (net pixel size including bezels) for interactive sessions. You can also limit the canvas size while configuring zones through Control Center. Userful automatically scales up or down the canvas size as required. You could simultaneously play 8k content on a 1080p wall and 1080p content on an 8k wall. You will get the best visual fidelity when your canvas matches your wall, or will be wasting performance when your canvas is bigger than your wall.
Does Userful's Video Wall feature support content that is shot with multiple 4K cameras, or offline content processed to 8K x 4K or even 12K/16K x 4K resolution?The theoretical maximum resolution of Userful is 16,000x16,000 pixels, however this only works for static "slide show" style images.
Userful is capable of decoding any video or image file up to 8,192 pixels on a side, and scaling it to any size of Video Wall canvas. This capability requires a compatible Nvidia Offload Card.
Can I output multiple content sources on a single video wall screen at the same time?You can use the Multi Window source to sub-divide individual displays or video walls and show multiple sources on a single display or wall.
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 while calibrating your Video Wall, 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 performance, it is best to encode content into h.265 and play it locally via Signage Player. Provided the maximum dimensions of the canvas (width or height) are kept below 8,192 pixels, Userful will leverage the built in hardware decoder of the Nvidia GPU to give you a significant performance advantage.
How can I get live video from a digital video camera to output to the video wall?Some webcams output RTSP streams and these can be connected via the Network Streamer source. Please note this approach would add some latency encoding and decoding will add visually detectable latency to your broadcast.
If you need to achieve imperceptible latency, you’ll need a direct connection between your camera and a capture card in the Userful host. We recommend cameras that outputs via HDMI or SDI streams combined with a certified Userful capture card. If configured correctly, this should enable you to capture and relay live video to various screens or video walls connected via network to the Userful server.
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 sources to a single video wall. This is perfect for multi-purpose video walls where you can either map a single source to your video wall (in which case it appears in "kiosk" mode and can start automatically) or you can map multiple sources.
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 a zero client connected to any display of your video wall.
What are the audio output options?There are 3 options:
- Pull sound from the sound output jacks on the server. This typically provides the best quality sound output as compared to just stereo sound at the zero client or display itself.
- 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 the Zones feature display a video in the center of a 2x2 video wall, overlapping the other 4 screens, and have different content played in the unused areas around it?The Zones feature allows a user to have a video wall playing different content within one layout. To achieve the desired effect you could either setup a 3x3 video wall (with the single monitor in the middle playing different video than the outer ring of 8 displays surrounding it as an example) or a 4x4 video wall with a 2x2 in the middle.
Alternatively, using one of the integrated content management systems you could achieve the desired effect by mapping a single source to the entire wall (regardless of size) and control the "picture in picture" zone size within the content management system.
What are the most efficient ways to get content onto the video wall?The most efficient and best quality approach is to play videos directly from the hard drive. Though video content can technically be up to 16,000 pixels in either direction, if your video content does not exceed 8192 pixels in either direction, it enables the Nvidia GPU to perform the hardware video decoding.
For video, we recommend h.264 (up to 4K), h.265 (up to 8K), or MPEG2 as codecs, with .MP4 or .MKV as the container. To maximize performance, store your videos on the Userful host to play in a playlist. When the same content will be played simultaneously on multiple video walls, be sure to use the Mirror Group feature. This ensures the video is only being decoded/processed once.
The second most efficient method is via HDMI capture cards, followed by network streaming (where the content must be received over the network and decoded before it can be processed).
The CPU is consumed most when your video wall is mapped to sources that render the content directly (for example a full-screen browser session or a content management system player). Here the Userful host's CPU needs to generate all the pixels in addition to performing all the typical tasks of a video wall controller (splitting and sending content to each display).
How can I synchronize content across multiple displays or video walls?See Mirror Groups.
Content cannot be synchronized perfectly across more than one Userful host. However "good enough" results may be able to be achieved by switching sources via the REST API. This also applies when attempting to synchronize different media sources from the same Userful host.
Synchronizing different content over long periods of time may be doable with appropriate API commands, however the system will not be able to provide the same level of synchronization as a Mirror Group.
What kind of content can I play on a video wall?Userful's Video Wall feature is one of the most 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 (you can create these using integrated Content Management Systems)
- WebGL, HTML5
How can I display Windows or other desktops on the Video Wall?There are multiple methods to display a Windows or other desktop on Video Wall.
- For deployments where video performance and latency are not primary concerns, such as displaying dashboards or mostly-static web content, you can use VNC sessions with the Desktop Streamer source.
- If high video performance and low latency is required, you can use Blackmagic DeckLink Capture as a source and connect with HDMI.
- If you need to log into and directly manipulate a system that is not shared, you can use the RDP Client along with the Interactive Viewer to interact with a compatible Windows system.
How can I display a Powerpoint presentation on the video wall?For non-interactive presentations:
- Export your presentation as static jpeg images optimally sized for the video wall, then copy the files to a directory and set them in a directory-based playlist using the Signage Player source, or
- Export your presentation as a video file (there are various tools online that enable you to do this, including animations and sound), upload it to the Userful host and access it using the Signage Player source
For interactive sessions:
- Export your presentation as an HTML page using the Web Browser source, or
- Open your presentation using Office 365 or Office Online using the Web Browser source, or
- Connect an external laptop or iPad running the presentation using the HDMI capture source, or
- Load your file to the Linux Desktop and open it in LibreOffice (this must be installed from the Control Center first) and control with Interactive Viewer.
Can I play my PDF presentation via Signage Player?Signage Player cannot play PDF files.
What are the supported video codecs and image formats for Signage Player?The following content codecs and formats are supported:
- Audio Codecs: MP3, FLAC, AAC
- Video Codecs: H.263, H.264, H.265, MPEG, Theora, Vorbis, VPX, XviD, VP9
- Video Formats: AVI, ASF, MKV, MPG, MP4, OGV, MOV
- Image Formats: .gif, .pbm, .pgm, .png, .ppm, .qif, .qti, .tif, .tiff, .jpe, .jpg, .jpeg, .qtif, .webp
Does Userful support keystone correction, layering, or other post-processing effects?Userful performs no post-processing or layering of any kind to content, aside from display color calibration and content scaling/zooming.
How many sources can be created in the Control Center?The latest version of Userful software (Version 10+) allows over 100 sources to be created in the Control Center. *Please note that performance is dependent on various factors such as number of displays and hardware specifications.
To manage large amounts of content switches, use of Userful's API is recommended.
How do I get my content on to the Userful PC/Server?See: How to Copy Content
You can also use Userful Cloud to upload content with "Actions" and "Upload Files" or by selecting multiple machines and selecting "Upload Files" from the top 3-dot menu.
What file formats are supported by Signage Player?Audio Codecs
MP3, FLAC, AAC
H.263, H.264, H.265, MPEG, Theora, Vorbis, VPX, XviD, VP9
AVI, ASF, MKV, MPG, MP4, OGV, MOV
.gif, .pbm, .pgm, .png, .ppm, .qif, .qti, .tif, .tiff, .jpe, .jpg, .jpeg, .qtif, .webp
Can Userful play my super-high-resolution video file?The video decoder engine in an Nvidia GPU can decode a maximum canvas size of 8192x8192. Any content that exceeds this, up to 16,000x16,000, will be decoded by software which is very inefficient and should be reserved for static images.
How should I encode my videos for Userful?Standard H.264 and .mp4 works well with Userful. Try to avoid excessive bitrates when converting video files.
For 8K playback, H.265 encoding is required.
How many frames per second does Userful play?Userful by default will output 30FPS video. An option in the Control Center can be turned on, where necessary and available, to enable 60FPS video.
8K content is limited to 30FPS playback.
What's the largest file size I can put into Userful?The only real limit is the available storage space in the PC/Server. However, resolution and bitrate have to be considered as well. If your 4K video is only 9 seconds long but takes up 2.3GB of disk space, re-encoding the video at a lower bitrate, or with some minimal level of compression, is a good idea.
Can Userful convert or re-encode my videos for me?There are tools freely available such as HandBrake that allow video re-encoding. Userful does not have a simple interface for re-encoding videos, as such task has many aspects to it that must be performed manually.
Userful Support may be able to assist in re-encoding videos as part of a valid Support and Maintenance contract.
Will Userful scale my content for me?Userful has the ability to stretch-to-fit, zoom, or scale-to-fit content, however if the content was not designed for the space, it may appear distorted. Content should be designed ahead of time for the resolution and/or aspect ratio it is intended to fill.
Can I play/demo/show interactive content?Signage Player is simply media playback, there is no touch or other interaction beyond "Pause" and "Rewind" commands that are currently available in the REST API.
Does Userful support multiple HDMI capture cards? What is the upper limit on the number of simultaneous inputs?Userful supports Blackmagic DeckLink capture cards. Userful can handle multiple input cards, limited only by the number of PCIe slots in your Userful PC/Server. You should contact us with details of your project if you intend on using multiple cards ahead of time.
With an Nvidia Offload card installed, Userful can support decoding and playing up to 16 distinct 1080p video sources at a time, or more at lower resolutions.
Please check our list of supported capture cards.
Userful supplies an optional converter kit including all necessary components to capture HDMI and convert to SDI.
Does capture cards have SDI ports on them...
Does your solution support wireless HDMI receivers for capture?We have not directly tested any wireless HDMI systems, however there is no reason any commercially available wireless HDMI transmitter/receiver system would not work with Userful.
Do IP to HDMI converters work with Userful?Provided the final output is a good quality HDMI signal you can attach this to a certified HDMI capture card within the Userful system and It should work without problems. Obviously whenever it is possible to directly connect the original input source to the capture card, you will have a better quality signal with lower latency and less complexity. Since the Userful server communicates over the network itself, consider whether it is possible to locate the Userful server next to the HDMI video source.
Can HDMI to IP converters work with Userful?These would typically be providing an RTSP stream. Many of these should work but may require settings to be adjusted both on the device and on the Userful RTSP container to work.
How can I capture my iPad or iPhone?A Lightning Digital AV Adapter available from Apple has been tested and works with Userful.
Can I capture both primary and extended displays of a Windows system to output to a video wall?Yes, but the extended screen is considered a separate source, so you will need two capture ports. You will need to split each display source into two with HDMI splitters, one should go to the desktop monitor while the second should go to a capture port in the Userful PC/Server. You will need two capture sources and two zones to render the two capture ports.
When is it preferred to use a Capture source over a Desktop Streamer (VNC) source?Hardware capture is preferred over other sources in use cases where:
- Latency is not acceptable (the software encoding and network transport of VNC adds 1-3 seconds of latency).
- Network streaming of the external source within the LAN is seen as a security risk.
- Users can not install VNC server software on the source device (e.g., a locked-down desktop image or media player, or devices that are regularly changing or not controllable).
- Users don't want to install and configure the VNC server software on the device.
Can I mirror my laptop to a video wall in a conference room?Yes. However, if you are switching between different laptops throughout the day, this is not a recommended use case as HDMI capture settings may need to be changed with each laptop due to variances in output resolution and color space.
My media player does not have an HDMI output, how can I run it to a video wall?While the vast majority of modern media players support HDMI output, contact us with your needs and we may be able to advise on the best approach. It is also possible with some Content Management Systems to integrate their player software directly into Userful.
Does Userful provide High-bandwidth Digital Content Protection (HDCP) decryption for live TV or other protected content?The Blackmagic DeckLink capture cards does not decrypt HDCP-protected signals. Userful does not decrypt or otherwise work around HDCP encryption protocol directly. Any HDCP-protected content will not display on Userful, a black screen will display instead.
HDCP can be dealt with in a few ways:
- Analog connections - Userful can provide converters that accept component video among other formats. Contacting your provider may provide options.
- HDCP-decrypting splitters - these can be very hit-or-miss, but this device has proven reliable for resellers. Note it only works to decrypt HDCP 1.4, newer HDCP 2.2 devices won't be decrypted.
Is there any lag time between capture and playback?Yes, the processing pipeline in HDMI capture will induce a small amount of lag in the stream of 30-100ms. This can increase depending on the size of the video wall.
Can I connect an existing HDMI matrix switch to the video wall?Yes, simply plug one of your “output” HDMI cables into the HDMI capture card in the Userful host. The video wall would then become one of your switched outputs.
Userful can currently actively manage and play ~16 1080p30 HDMI streams from capture cards. For new installations, it is worth considering building a Userful host with multiple capture cards and using the Userful server to replace your matrix switch altogether.
Do you support HDMI over Ethernet devices?We have tested a couple of HDMI Extenders over CAT5e/CAT6 (D-HDMI-EP30 and D-HDMI-EPNP) it works fine with our solution for a distance of up to 30 meters.
Can I capture and play audio over Blackmagic DeckLink Capture?Yes, audio capture is supported. However maintaining audio synchronization and quality may pose challenges. Please Contact Support if you experience challenges with audio streaming.
How does HDMI Capture content scale?Content captured through HDMI / Blackmagic Capture should be mapped to a display or Video Wall that matches its native aspect ratio as closely as possible or perfectly. Stretching or compressing, for example, a 16:9 1920x1080 HDMI capture feed to a 3x2 Video Wall will produce a distorted image.
What are the advantages of Blackmagic Decklink Capture as a source?
- The captured content is decoded and processed by the Nvidia GPU, making it a very efficient source on system resources.
- Captured content is high-quality with good framerates of up to 60FPS.
- Because the data is entirely translated into video and IP traffic, no information from the source itself is shared with the Userful system (user credentials or other sensitive info) in a way that could compromise security.
What are the limitations of Blackmagic Decklink Capture as a source?
- Infrastructure required (converters, HDMI cables).
- Touch events are not available.
- Interactive Viewer is not available.
- The number of usable capture sources is limited by the PCIe expandability of the host computer.
- Capture cards compress their content. This is normally not noticeable playing full motion video or even some static images, but in instances with still images, PC desktops or high contrast, some compression artifacts may be noticeable.
- Capture content cannot be stretched to fit a custom aspect ratio. For example a 16:9 1080p or 4K input should not be scaled to fit a 2x3 video wall or distortion and poor image quality will occur. Using Web content or the Signage Player source to play content locally is recommended.
- The processing and compression involved in HDMI capture means there is a small delay between the source and displayed content. This is not normally a problem. However it is a well-known phenomenon in professional gaming and esports circles, as the slight delay can cause issues in responsiveness when playing high-paced games.
Does Userful support any USB capture solutions?We have tested and verified that the Magewell USB HDMI Capture dongle works with Userful as a "Video Capture" source.
How many VNC sources can I run at once? or What kind of framerate will I get from VNC?The primary contributor to VNC performance is available network bandwidth, and the content being transmitted.
VNC is not a streaming protocol, rather the application takes screenshots of the active display, compares newer screenshots to previous images taken, then compresses and sends the updated content. The speed and frequency at which it does this is automatically negotiated between the client (Userful) and server (your systems) based on available network bandwidth.
Screen resolution is also a factor, higher resolutions mean higher bandwidth needs.
Similar to Web Browsers, if the content being shown is mostly static or has small, infrequent updates, Userful would be able to run many (up to 30) VNC sessions without issue. However if the content is more intensive, there is the risk of overstressing the CPU and causing system instability.
For most deployments, Userful should be able to handle 30 1080p VNC streams if the content is not too demanding (static images, simple web pages, dashboards).
This number is highly variable based on demand.
There exist many free fully-featured VNC server applications for Windows, Linux and OSX. Some examples include:
How do I configure VNC on my desktops?
What are the advantages of VNC over Blackmagic DeckLink Capture?
- Minimal infrastructure
- Ease of setup - software configuration only
- Ideal for displaying simple, relatively static images or other content
What are the challenges associated with VNC over Blackmagic DeckLink Capture?
- Not suitable for high-framerate situations where video quality is important
- Quality is subject to network bandwidth and available CPU power
- Network restrictions or architecure may prevent use
What types of integrated signage players can we run on the server, without external media players or HDMI capture cards?Currently, Userful supports browser-based content management solutions, including:
- Rise Vision
How do third party plugins work?Our solution is integrated with a number of content management solutions that are separately licensed or free. Because our solution is built on top of CentOS 7.x (RHEL 7.x), skilled Linux administrators have the flexibility to install their own third-party plugins and perform additional customization.
Userful doesn’t currently list my content management system as a supported CMS? Can I still output content to the video wall?Yes. Content Management Systems can be integrated with Userful using one or more of the options listed below. The optimal approach depends on a handful of factors.
- HDMI capture: This approach efficiently offloads the content rendering workload to a separate media player device. Configure your media player and connect it to a capture port on the Userful host instead of connecting it to a display (typically via HDMI). Userful supports both 1080p and 4k multi-port capture cards. This approach adds the cost of the media player and capture card but offers enormous flexibility and creates little to no impact on Userful host system resources because all of the video processing is being done on the external media player.
- Network Streaming: This is similar to the HDMI capture approach, except it eliminates the need for a capture card in the Userful host. Instead of configuring the media player to output a network stream; configure your Userful host to receive this network stream. This typically adds some latency over HDMI capture (which is close to real-time) due to the network encoding and decoding, but saves cost on capture cards and eliminates the distance constraint between your media player and your Userful host.
- Build a Native Userful plug-in: Userful team can work with your content management system vendor to create a plugin for their CMS. Userful often provides the development work for this without charge (provided the CMS meets certain criteria and is keen to participate). The advantage of this approach is it is natively rendered so typically achieves good performance and it eliminates the need for an extra device as mentioned above.
- Manual setup: If your CMS has a browser-based player that works in Firefox or Chrome you can manually set this up using the extension, a persistent Web Browser source, and feed parameters such as MAC address as part of the URL.
How many unique Web Browser sessions can I have running at once?This is highly dependent on the content that each browser is running. Static pages showing still images or dashboards will use few system resources, while browsers running full-motion video will use more.
Currently all Web Browser-based content is rendered with the CPU. Ideally the number of unique browser-based sources should be kept under 12. This can be larger if Mirror Groups are used.
Can I run 3D content in the browser or improve rendering performance - OpenGL or similar with the Nvidia GPU?This feature is in development. It is strongly recommended that static images and videos be displayed using the Signage Player source.
Can I run Java, Flash, or Silverlight in the Web Browser?No. The NPAPI framework has been removed from Chrome (version 37 for Linux) and Firefox (Desktop version 52, ESR/Userful version 60) as part of a wider industry trend away from browser plugins. This same move applies to all other modern browsers, including Microsoft Edge, Safari, and Opera. See this article for Chrome and this article for Firefox.
Chrome comes with its own built-in implementation of Flash Player. However this is slowly being retired towards a complete removal targeting December 2020.
Any websites or applications that rely on these plugins must be updated, or alternatives found.
How can I control the Web Browser in the source with a keyboard and mouse?Web Browser is compatible with the Interactive Viewer and can be used to directly manipulate the browser's content. Alternatively, a USB keyboard and mouse can be connected to the Zero Client Receiver or Control Display.
Can I restrict content accessed through the Web Browser, for example if it's going to be used by the general public?Yes, see Session Management for information. Note that an appropriate license is required to be able to access this feature.
How can I update the browsers?Userful includes the latest versions of the web browsers in updates as part of a valid Support and Maintenance subscription. Ensure your subscription is valid, and run "Check for Updates" in Control Center -> Settings.
Can I install extensions into the browsers?Yes, if you set the Source to "Retain browser changes across sessions" you can then browse (via Interactive Viewer or keyboard and mouse) to chrome://extensions or Chrome Web Store and install and manage Chrome extensions, or Firefox Addons for Firefox extensions. In this way you can install 3rd-party extensions, including CMS extensions.
Cookies, history, settings, add-ons, and cache. If this option is not set, everything is erased and a new temporary user account is created on the next login.
What browser information is retained for “Retain browser changes across sessions”?
Can I integrate my CMS into Userful using a browser extension?Extensions can be installed and kept as detailed above. Userful does not currently provide GPU acceleration or rendering to web browser sources, however this is in development. Full-screen video should be avoided, it's best to display static images or other content with minimal motion.
How can I run YouTube videos and playlists full screen from a Web Browser source?Adding some simple variables to the end of the video or playlist's URL in the source's URL bar will allow this:
- For fullscreen, replace watch with embed in the URL. So https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=it0qT1Ui2IY becomes https://www.youtube.com/embed?v=it0qT1Ui2IY
- To remove playback controls when a video starts, add &controls=0 to the end of the URL.
- To remove the "Fullscreen" notification, add &fs=0
Can I create multiple user accounts and use the Linux Desktop like any other desktop?Linux Desktop functions exactly as a default desktop environment from any major Linux distribution. User accounts need to be created and managed, applications can be installed with sudo access, etc. This enables Userful to replace multiple desktop PCs with a single standard, centralized server.
Is Linux Desktop meant for general public users?Linux Desktop is a fully managed and secured personal working environment, much like Windows or OSX. Individual user accounts must be created ahead of time. Files saved to the user's desktop or home directory will remain there indefinitely.
Cloud Desktop is meant for general public use.
Can I run 3D applications or games on the Linux Desktop?3D desktop support is currently experimental and requires an Nvidia GPU.
Can I install and run Linux applications?Userful enables the base CentOS and EPEL repositories, these contain thousands of applications. Most should install and run without issue, however we aren't able to support these applications.
3rd-party applications with installers designed for Red Hat/CentOS Linux should also work, this is also unsupported.
How do I install a printer?Userful uses CUPS for local printer administration. You can access the printer configuration wizard from the Linux Desktop (System -> Administration -> Print Settings)
If you are having difficulty setting up your printer, please Contact Support if you have a valid Support and Maintenance subscription.
How do I install this application/driver/device and make it work with Userful?If said application, device, or driver has a Linux implementation, it will most likely work with Userful on the Linux Desktop, though we provide no support for these applications, nor can we guarantee or enhance any functionality.
If the vendor does not provide Linux compatibility, attempting to integrate it into Userful directly is not recommended.
How do I install TeamViewer on Userful?TeamViewer is a popular option for remote administration of Userful when Userful Cloud is not desired or available.
There is a TeamViewer client available for Linux here: https://www.teamviewer.com/en/download/linux/ use of the latest version is recommended.
- Choose the version for "Red Hat/CentOS/Fedora" and the "x86_64" architecture.
- Download the file using the Linux Desktop. It should save to your "Downloads" folder by default.
- Open a terminal (the black icon next to Firefox in the bar at the top of the screen). Enter the following commands, in order:
- cd Downloads/
- sudo yum -y install teamviewer
Can I install Windows applications into Userful using WINE?Userful's core compatibility is CentOS/RHEL, and using these applications is done entirely at your own risk, using publicly available documentation and support resources.
What is Cloud Desktop, and what is it for?Cloud Desktop is built to serve as public use workstations, with user privacy and security at the forefront. It's a simple desktop environment that can be configured with a few simple applications and a desktop interface. Once the user logs out of Cloud Desktop, all their files and changes are erased.
What can users do in Cloud Desktop?Cloud Desktop is a key element of Userful's next-generation Public Computing platform and is very popular in public libraries and Internet cafes all over the world.
- Browse the Web with Chrome or Firefox
- Use Office applications Writer (Word) Presentations (PowerPoint) and Calc (Excel)
- Use any other application installed on the system and made available during configuration
- Connect and sync compatible media devices (digital cameras, Android phones) and view media
- Download, fill out, and print PDF forms
Can users play 3D games on Cloud Desktop, like Minecraft?3D application support is currently experimental, and requires an Nvidia GPU.
How do users save files on Cloud Desktop?Users should save files to a Cloud storage service such as Dropbox, Google Drive, or Microsoft OneDrive. Alternatively, USB flash drives can be connected to the Zero Client Receiver's USB ports and will be detected on the station.
How can I restrict browsing, enable time limits, or otherwise manage users?See Session Management
Can I install and run Windows applications on Cloud or Linux Desktop?The use of Cloud services such as Google Docs or Microsoft Office Online/Office 365 is heavily encouraged.
Userful offers support for Microsoft Office to our Public Computing customers. Please speak to your Userful Sales Representative to learn more.
Other applications outside this scope are not supported.
What is Userful?Userful is a complete software and hardware solution to power digital displays and video walls, and fills these elements of a video wall system:
- Base OS for the system, removing the need for extra software licensing and support.
- Drivers and software for Nvidia Offload GPUs and Blackmagic DeckLink capture cards.
- Manages all source content - HDMI capture, network streams, local and Web content, and more.
- Directly manages and controls Zero Client Receivers including firmware, IP settings, display resolution, USB access, audio levels, and connectivity diagnostics.
- Assembles and manages multiple displays into Video Walls of any size and configuration with a seamless and easy-to-use interface.
- Utilizes CPU and GPU resources to their fullest to drive large and/or complex video walls.
- Leverages the Nvidia CUDA platform to drive Nvidia GPUs as compute engines for maximum efficiency and industry-leading playback and synchronization across multiple displays.
- Powers industry-standard web browsers (Firefox and Chrome) to fetch and display web content.
- Handles connectivity to Userful Cloud, our Cloud management portal for remote administration of the Userful system, and access for Userful Support.
- Fully functional desktop workspaces for users or administrators, including printer support, user accounts, applications, and administration tools (optional).
- Secure, time-managed workspaces for public computing, with a simple but versatile application stack.
What is Userful from a software perspective?The foundation of Userful is a complete operating system based on Red Hat Enterprise Linux, perhaps the most robust and capable Linux distribution available.
Added is an easy-to-use browser-based GUI for administration, our display control technology, along with drivers and hardware for video wall control and content capture and playback.
No prior Linux knowledge is required to successfully use Userful.
What is the life expectancy of the software?We update the software platform incrementally for as long as we can, typically for 5+ years. At some point a re-install with a new version may be required. Customers with valid Support and Maintenance subscriptions are eligible for any assistance needed in performing this upgrade, if or when it comes.
If Userful is Linux, can I...?Userful does provide a fully functional Linux Desktop as an available source, and the customer has full ability to install and manage extra software as they see fit. However Userful does not support the use of third-party applications or services on our systems.
How can I install Userful on my Windows PC?Userful is a complete Operating System. To install Userful, you will need to either wipe your hard drive, or be familiar with hard drive partitioning and boot records. For this reason we recommend designating a computer that is disposable or recoverable to install Userful on if you are interested in trying it out on your own hardware.
Go to Userful Downloads to obtain a trial version of Userful, and contact us for a trial license.
Alternatively, a trial version of the Userful management interface is available at our demo page.
Userful releases feature and functionality updates about four times per year. A valid subscription and an active Internet connection entitles you to free software updates as well as professional troubleshooting and support from Userful.
How do I update Userful?
Software updates must be managed manually from within Userful. Updates often require a system reboot to take full effect, and this could result in unexpected downtime if the update were to occur automatically.
What is a Zero Client Receiver?A Zero Client Receiver is an inexpensive device that includes a basic 2D display adapter, USB ports, headphone/microphone jacks, and uses an Ethernet TCP/IP local network to communicate with the Userful PC/Server.
It connects to a Userful system by turning video, USB, and audio data into network traffic which it sends to the Userful server. The Userful server "decrypts" this data with a driver, and interacts with the Zero Client Receiver as if it were an attached display, with accompanying keyboard and mouse when connected.
The end result is that you have a very inexpensive device that can be placed anywhere on a Local Area Network (LAN) and easily made to function as a display that is directly attached to a computer.
Userful's Control Center allows you to use these Zero Client Receivers for almost any task imaginable - stand-alone kiosks, user workstations, digital signage displays, or components of any size Video Walls.
What OS do Zero Client Receivers run, and how do I secure and manage them?Zero Client Receivers have a basic system chipset, graphics chip, and firmware stored in very small rewriteable memory. They have no CPU, local storage, RAM, or other complex or moving parts of any kind. There is no operating system on a Zero Client Receiver. They cannot be compromised or infected, and firmware updates are handled exclusively through Userful. They can only be addressed or interacted with directly with Userful, or a special driver for Windows mostly used for diagnostics.
Zero Client Receivers store no information, and only process realtime video data to be sent to the display, or USB information received from connected peripherals.
The only values that can be changed in a Zero Client Receiver are:
- IP address (DHCP or programmable static IPv4 address)
- Subnet Mask
- Name (text field)
- Location (text field)
- Assigned Hostname (automatically set when the Zero Client Receiver is assigned to a PC/Server)
The network link between Userful and its Receivers transmits only raw video and USB input data. Aside from keyboard inputs, no sensitive data is transferred between Zero Client Receiver and Userful.
What potentially sensitive data is shared between the Userful PC/Server and its Zero Client Receivers? Is there proprietary protocol used for the data transmission?
How are Zero Client Receivers addressed and detected?Zero Client Receivers come out of the box looking for a DHCP server. The Userful host can serve as a temporary or permanent DHCP server if needed. For long-term stability, giving Zero Client Receivers static IP addresses outside of the current DHCP range is recommended but not required.
If a Zero Client Receiver does not obtain a DHCP address, it will assign itself an IP, usually starting in 169.254 or 10.10. In this condition, the Zero Client Receiver will need to be provided a DHCP server, and then be restarted. If this is not an option, please contact Userful Support.
At this time only approved devices can be used with Userful. There is no way to use other hardware to emulate a Zero Client Receiver.
Can I use a WYSE, Teradici or other device as a Zero Client Receiver? Can a PC be configured as a Zero Client Receiver?
Do Zero Client Receivers support IPv6?Only IPv4 addresses are supported. Zero Client Receivers are not meant to be used or managed from outside the physical premises in which they are installed, so IPv6 addresses are unnecessary.
What video formats do the Zero Client Receivers accept?Zero Client Receivers do not decode video, that happens in the Userful PC/Server. Userful re-encodes the video and uses its own internal processes to send Motion JPEG (MJPEG) images to the individual Receivers. Userful can handle any industry standard video format.
What video format (H.264/H.265, MP4) does your solution send to the Zero Client Receivers?The encoding is done by our software and is optimized to preserve image quality and network bandwidth while maintaining synchronization. Each zero client device receives a Motion JPEG (MJPEG) stream because using H.264/H.265 would introduce encoding and latency challenges that would not be acceptable for most use cases. Uncompressed video would be far too demanding on the network and endpoint.
What can the Zero Client Receiver output?All Zero Client Receivers have the same internal chipset, the SMSC UFX6000. This is a 2D graphics chip that allows output of most standard resolutions up to 1920x1080 over VGA or HDMI. The Zero Client Receiver is capable of detecting and working with any industry-standard display and will read EDID information (the list of available resolutions) from the display it is connected to, along with diagonal size, and will relay that information back to Userful.
The Zero Client Reciever is also capable of any custom resolution outside standard aspect ratios and formats, up to about 2 million pixels. The formula used to determine this is:
x * y = <2M px
As long as the total output resolution is 2 million pixels or lower, the display should work with Userful.
Can I run a desktop from a Zero Client Receiver, with desktop applications and 3D games?Userful provides the ability to run Linux or Cloud Desktops as sources.
Standard 2D desktop applications run well. 3D applications by default use software emulation to run, which is very inefficient.
3D application support is currently experimental, and requires a compatible Nvidia GPU installed in the system to handle application rendering.
Userful runs onCentOS Linux, so any applications needed must have an available Linux version.
Userful does not support the installation or use of 3rd-party applications or games.
What kind of devices can I connect to a Zero Client Receiver?All Zero Client Receivers come equipped with four USB 2.0 (Type A) ports. You can connect just about any USB device to a Zero Client Receiver, however its functionality may be limited. Devices that work with Userful include:
- Basic USB keyboards and mice
- USB storage devices
- CD/DVD drives and burners
- Digital cameras set to MTP mode
- Most models of Android smartphones and tablets
- USB Webcams (accessible in the Userful Control Center, Version 9.8+ only)
Can I connect more than one display to a Zero Client Receiver?The VGA and HDMI outputs on a Zero Client Receiver are mirrored, and will output the same image on both. One Zero Client Receiver per display is recommended.
For best image and color quality, using HDMI connections exclusively is recommended.
Are there any performance differences among models of Zero Client Receiver?No. All supported Zero Client Receivers have identical internal chipsets and similar performance, the only difference is in the ports used for the video output - some do not have HDMI, some do not have VGA.
Any Zero Client Receiver recommended and sold by Userful for any digital signage or Video Wall application will come equipped with HDMI.
What are the power requirements for a Zero Client Receiver?A Zero Client Receiver is a very simple and efficient device. With a full set of peripherals connected, they will individually draw between 2-5W of power at most.
A power budget of 6W for Power over Ethernet (PoE) devices is recommended.
What are the alternative power methods available for a Zero Client Receiver?In addition to standard 12V power adapters, Userful can supply Zero Client Receiver devices with Power over Ethernet (PoE) and USB power options. Contact a Userful Sales Representative for details.
Where and how should the Zero Client Receiver be mounted?Ideally a Zero Client Receiver should be mounted on or near the display it is to be powering. Some models of Zero Client Receiver come with their own VESA mounting bracket and screws, and require only a small screwdriver for installation. Adhesive tape or Velcro can also be used.
How far from the Userful PC/Server can the Zero Client Receiver be?Zero Client Receivers follow standard TCP/IP protocols, which state the maximum uninterrupted distance of a single Ethernet cable at 100M (330ft). This can be extended with the use of fiber-optic connections. However adding more than one or two additional network "hops" is not recommended in order to maintain acceptable latency.
How far from the Display can the Zero Client Receiver be?As far as an HDMI cable can run, 15M (50 ft) without repeaters.
VGA can be extended heavily, using quality extension cables, if necessary.
Can Zero Client Receivers function outdoors?Zero Client Receivers are certified to work in conditions where humidity levels are below 90% non-condensing and temperatures do not fall below -40C/F.
Zero Client Receivers have no moving parts but are not watertight, and should not be exposed to moisture. There are no waterproof or element-resistant models of Zero Client Receiver available at this time.
What is the warranty on a Zero Client Receiver?Zero Client Receivers typically come with a one year manufacturer warranty. Replacements are supplied by Userful during this warranty period.
Customers with active Support and Maintenance subscriptions are entitled to free lifetime replacements, supplied by Userful.
What kind of life expectancy does a Zero Client Receiver have?Most Zero Client Receivers come with 1 year warranties. However you can expect a Zero Client Receiver to be operational for up to 10 years in a digital signage role, or 3-5 if used as a desktop replacement device with frequent user interaction.
To avoid downtime due to shipping delays, ordering extra Zero Client Receivers for a project to keep on hand is recommended. It is recommended to order 1 extra Zero Client Receiver for each 10 displays in a project. Userful provides extra Zero Client Receivers for around $99 USD.
How does Userful respond if a Zero Client Receiver is offline, or not playing the content it should?If the zero client is part of a Video wall, the rest of the video wall will not continue to play.
What kind of network traffic does a Zero Client Receiver generate?When operating as a stand-alone display, depending on use case, a Zero Client Receiver can generate either very little or a lot of traffic, depending on the rate at which the pixels on the display are being updated. A web browser showing mostly static content would use little traffic, while a display playing full-motion video uses more.
When being used as part of a Video Wall, all pixels on the screen are updated constantly. A Zero Client Receiver must have a 1 Gigabit (1000Mbps) connection to its Userful server in order to function correctly. A single Zero Client Receiver can easily generate over 100Mpbs in traffic under peak load.
What other network requirements are there for a Zero Client Receiver?
- Minimum Bandwidth of 1000Mbps (1Gbps)
- Maximum Latency of 0.500ms - one half of one millisecond
- Maximum packet loss of 0.001% or less
- Maximum number of clients per 1Gbps subnet is 25. 10Gbps uplinks/switches remove this limitation
- Must reside on the same subnet (virtual or physical) as an adapter in the Userful PC/Server
See Network Zero Clients for more information on configuring Zero Client Receivers.
Will my Userful system slow down if the network connections are not fast enough? What happens if the above specifications are not met?Zero Client Receivers function as an extension of peripherals attached directly to a computer. Userful sees any display, keyboard or mouse connected to a Zero Client Receiver as being physically connected to the computer itself. Modern operating systems are not designed to handle significant amounts of latency in these systems.
The symptoms of inadequate network resources will show as hardware or OS defects. You can expect to encounter, in order of escalating severity:
- Poor video wall performance (framerate drops, synchronization issues)
- Zero Client Receivers disconnecting from the system (showing a logo and/or black screen)
- Software/Userful Control Center odd behavior and freezes
- Server crashes and hard lock-ups
What kind of network cable do I need for Zero Client Receivers Receivers?At minimum Category-5e network cabling or above is required for 1Gbps connections from a Zero Client Receiver to its switch.
Category-6 or SFP is needed for 10Gbps uplinks from Userful PC/Server to the switch if necessary.
How are Zero Client Receivers addressed?Zero Client Receivers come out of the box looking for a DHCP server. The Userful host can serve as a temporary or permanent DHCP server if needed. However for long-term stability, giving Zero Client Receivers static IP addresses is recommended.
If a Zero Client Receiver does not obtain a DHCP address, it will assign itself an IP, usually starting in 169.254 or 10.10. In this condition, the Zero Client Receiver will need to be provided a DHCP server, and then be restarted. If this is not an option, please contact Userful Support.
How do I reset a Zero Client Receiver to its factory default settings?Some models of Zero Client Receiver come with a recessed push-pin reset button. Using a pin or other similar object to hold this button down for 30 seconds while the Zero Client Receiver is powered on will reset the device to its factory settings.
If your Zero Client Receievers do not have this button, unplugging the power for a minimum of 60 seconds will have the same effect.
Can I place a Zero Client Receiver in an adjoining building, across a campus, or in a building a few blocks away from the server?See the Network Requirements.
Userful only tests and certifies Zero Client Receivers to work properly on Ethernet LANs. If your WAN or network is capable of delivering the performance outlined above, then it may work. Otherwise it is recommended to follow the rule of one server per physical premise.
Can a Zero Client Receiver be run wirelessly?No. Currently the technology does not quite exist to provide the kind of reliable wireless connection that a Zero Client Receiver needs to function properly.
Can I get audio from a Zero Client Receiver?Yes, you can get basic audio from the audio-out / headphone jack in a Zero Client Receiver, or through the HDMI connection if you are using a television or other display with speakers.
Does Userful integrate into any Smart TV or other third-party control options in commercial displays? Can I use Userful without a Zero Client Receiver?This is something we are working on supporting in future. For the time being, a supported Zero Client Receiver is required for each display.
uClient is a software application developed by Userful for a variety of commercial display platforms, including LG WebOS, Samsung SSSP, and the Userful uClient Adapter. When installed into the platform, the app pairs to a Userful On-Premise or Cloud server to deliver signage or video wall experiences with minimal hardware, either replacing or removing the Zero Client entirely.
How is uClient different from Zero Client?
Rather than being a single physical device, uClient is an app that installs on an existing platform. It then uses that platform's hardware to download or decode content from Userful.
uClients recieve video as H.264 over RTSP, so their bandwidth and latency requirements are not as stringent as they are for Zero Clients.
What resolution can uClient output?
uClient will output whatever its host platform is capable of. If it is installed on an LG or Samsung 4K display, it will output 4K content.
The Userful uClient Adapter can output up to 4K60 on its HDMI port, or 1080p60 through DisplayPort.
What bandwidth limitations or network requirements does uClient have?
uClient paired to an on-premise server recieves video streams in the form of time-stamped RTSP video. As long as available bandwidth is adequate for the content being distributed, the system will function normally. 1080p60 video can typically consume 12-14Mbps as an example. There are none of the latency concerns that Zero Clients have.
Are there any server requirements for uClient?
Only NVIDIA Quadro GPUs are able to create the live RTSP streams needed by uClients, so On-Premise servers must have a supported Quadro GPU.
Does Userful require a constant Internet connection? Can an Internet connection be over wireless network or cellular modems?Userful™ works without an Internet connection, provided all needed content is stored on, or accessible to, the PC/Server. However remote management and scheduing features are not available through Userful Cloud 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 strongly recommended for support from Userful.
What outbound ports do I need to allow for Userful to connect through my firewall?See this page for information.
Can I deploy a video wall using a wireless Ethernet connection?Adding a wireless network adapter to a Userful PC/Server for access to the Control Center, Userful Cloud, and other management is possible, though not officially recommended.
Connections between the Userful PC/Server and the zero client receivers must be made using wired Ethernet or Fiber-Optic connections.
When do I need to use a 10Gbps uplink?While most Userful deployments work fine with a common 1Gbps network (including uplink between server and switch), for high resolution (6K) content or large numbers of displays, the pixel throughput may demand a 10Gbps link between the Userful PC/Server and switch.
When playing content at 30fps, a 10Gbps uplink will be required if:
- Your source content is 6k resolution or higher, or
- You are driving more than 24 displays in a video wall, or
- You are driving more than 12 independent displays at native 1080p playback
Which cable should I use to connect 10Gbps NIC on the Userful host and 10Gbps uplink port on the switch?Cat-6 or better Ethernet cable is required to connect a 10Gbps interface on the Userful host and 10Gbps uplink on the switch. For simplicity Userful normally uses Ethernet for 10Gbps links, however SFP equipment that advertises compatibility with Linux is also fine.
How can I optimize my network?The Userful PC/Server and its Zero Client Receivers should be placed on an independent subnet. A second network interface is standard in all Userful Certified PC/Servers to allow Userful to create and manage its own isolated LAN when connected to a dedicated switch.
No more than 25 zero clients should share the same subnet if they do not uplink to the Userful host with a 10Gbps connection. For optimal performance and reliability, the Userful host and zero clients should be configured with static IPs.
It is important to note that Zero Client Receivers should NEVER share a subnet with WiFi or other network devices that are not critical to the functionality of Userful. For more details, visit this article.
How does scaling affect the network?By default, Userful is configured to use the built-in scaler within a display to improve image quality. Almost all displays have a built-in scaler that converts incoming sources to fit their output display size.
You can switch to "server-side" scaling by disabling the "Display Scaling" option in the Control Center's Performance Settings. Switching to server-side scaling may improve image quality, but increases network bandwidth.
Due to increased network bandwidth, we recommend installing a 10Gbps interface and a switch with 10Gbps uplink port if you have more than 12 displays in your video wall setup.
Do Zero Client Receivers support fiber optic connections?Zero Client Receivers support only Ethernet network connections.
Fiber optic connections can be used to connect the Userful PC/Server to a switch, and if necessary to link multiple switches.
How long can my network cables be, or how far can the Userful server be from the displays or Video Wall?100 Meters (330 ft) is the industry standard length for 1Gbps Category-5e cable or better. This is the maximum length for a single, unswitched cable run. Additional distance should be covered with fiber-optic uplinks.
Latency between the host and zero clients must remain within specifications for proper operation of the system.
How should I select my displays?Displays can be purchased from some select partners through Userful, however the solution should be compatible with the vast majority of displays on the market (both commercial and consumer grade). We strongly suggest that you purchase a single display and test, first to ensure full compatibility with the Userful system and that you are happy with the display in regards to the mounting and visual appeal. Additional features to look for in a display are auto on/off and locked buttons to prevent the public from interfering with their function.
What displays are compatible?Userful works with most available commercial displays, desktop monitors, projectors and TVs so long as they have HDMI or VGA connections. Userful also supports custom resolutions from Userful 9.8 and up.
See this page for a list of tested and certified touch screen displays. Any HID-compliant touch display should work with Userful, testing in advance is strongly recommended.
What is the maximum number of displays Userful can run?There is no hard upper limit. Userful can run 8K content to a single video wall consisting of over 100 displays. Userful also uses Zones to divide video walls of any size and send content to multiple displays or groups of displays. Please contact us with details of your project to learn more about Userful's capabilities.
What resolution can Userful output?Individual Zero Client Receivers output a maximum of 1920x1080, however by assembling multiple displays into a larger Video Wall, you can effectively combine multiple panels to create native 4K, 6K, or 8K output.
What source types can I interact with using a touch display?Any Web Browser, CMS, Linux Desktop, Cloud Desktop, RDP, or VNC session can be interacted with using a touch display.
Signage Player, Network Streamer, and HDMI/Blackmagic Capture sources cannot be interacted with.
Can Userful color-calibrate my displays?Yes, this is a function built into the Userful Control Center. It is recommended to color-calibrate your displays directly for a better overall experience however, since display calibration settings will not be lost if the Userful PC/Server fails or is replaced.
Although substantially more expensive, professional displays do have numerous advantages in terms of features, longevity, and warranty. For unattended public displays in 24/7 operation, there is no question that professional displays are recommended. For less demanding setups (e.g., a video wall behind the reception that is under regular staff supervision and is in operation only 8h/day) the substantial cost savings offered through the use of consumer TVs are justified.
What kind of displays can I use to setup my Video Wall? Are professional displays (vs consumer TVs) worth the extra cost?
Professional video wall mounts are expensive, can I just use ordinary TV mounts?Though not typically recommended, it is possible on a small video-wall (e.g., a 2x2) to use less expensive TV mounting solutions and save some money. Setup will naturally take longer and there may be some imperfections in alignment so the savings may or may not be justified. For larger video walls (3x3 and larger) we strongly recommend using the Chief or alternative mounting solution designed specifically for video walls. While with a 2x2 you can access each of the 4 TVs from the exposed edges, with a larger video wall it becomes impossible to access individual displays without first removing neighboring displays which are painfully cumbersome.
Will buying 4K displays improve the visual impact and image quality of my video wall?A high-quality 4K display with a high-quality upscaler will improve the picture quality a bit over the same content being displayed on an equivalent 1080p display. Displays often have built in hardware that uses a process called upscaling to convert incoming sources to fit their output display size (in this case, 1080 to 4K). Done right, this upscaling combined with the higher pixel count on a 4K display can actually add to the perceived detail of the image, but you will have to look very closely to actually see the difference. Just because a display is 4K doesn't mean it necessarily has a good scaler built in.
Can I create a video wall using 4K displays with Userful?Zero Client Receivers are fully compatible with 4K displays and many of our customers have deployed 4K displays with our zero client devices. Zero Client Receivers output a maximum of 1920x1080 resolution which is then upscaled by the 4K display’s built-in scaler.
Obviously 4K displays cost more, but they do provide better visual results than equivalent quality 1080p displays. Most customers find the limiting factor on their video wall resolution to be their source content, which for large video walls is typically much smaller than the total possible pixel output of their displays. For example a 2x2 video wall with 4k displays would require an 8k source. Perhaps 1% of video wall controllers on the market are powerful enough to actually drive full frame rate video at 8k or higher resolution.
Can I use different display sizes and aspect ratios within the mosaic-style or artistic video wall?Userful can correctly calibrate for different bezels, sizes, models, and 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.
Can I use 1080p displays to play 6K or 8K content on my video wall?Video wall applications almost always upscale content. Unless you have unusually high-resolution source content, or are outputting to an unusually small video wall, the Userful scaling optimizer ensures you won’t miss out on a single pixel of source resolution fidelity while balancing CPU, GPU and network demands. Userful scales all the way up to 8k source content. With the more typical 4K resolution source files, unless your video wall is less than 4 screens you will not miss out on any resolution.
Up-Scaling (increasing the resolution of the content for output on a high res video wall) is a natural part of every video wall technology. The only time you are losing resolution is when you are engaged in down-scaling (for example outputting 8k content to a 2x2 video wall).
|Source resolution |
|Video Wall (1080p Displays) |
Is 6k playback possible with Userful?For 6k content playback, Userful strongly recommends a Userful certified Mid-Range Appliance. Please contact a Userful representative for more details.
If I have an existing display management system (RS232 or Ethernet) how will it interact with Userful?
The display connects to the zero client device via either the HDMI or VGA port of your display. You could still use an Ethernet or RS232 control function with an external control and monitoring system to display monitoring, settings, etc., and in the case of a smart display there is nothing that needs to be installed on the TV or display itself.
Can I use Userful to power a video wall made of LED panels?Userful is a great solution for many LED deployments. Even when the total resolution of your LED wall is less than 1080p, Userful still adds substantial value for many LED deployment use cases:
- Adapting to the odd display sizes commonly found with LED walls and panels: There is an enormous diversity in LED panels, some PCs are unable to adapt to this range of odd and unusual resolutions. The Userful software and zero-client receiver devices have been designed to flexibly support a broad range of unusual (and even odd) aspect ratios and display sizes. They can be set to output any custom resolution, provided the maximum resolution (in either direction) is less than 2048px, and the total pixel count (x*y) is less than 2.07M pixel (x * y = <2.07M px).
- Centralizing the player/server & environmental robustness: For many LED deployments, the Userful server is configured to output to Zero Client Receivers connected via HDMI to the LED wall. Userful is great for outdoor use cases (as you can keep your servers in a controlled environment indoors, and the receiver can be housed within the outdoor display. By using standard Ethernet or Fibre Optic cable, Userful enables almost unlimited distance between display and server without relying on flaky cable extension solutions.
- Advanced feature set and multi-window control: Userful's advanced remote management, multi-windowing capabilities, API, scheduling, cloud content distribution, mirroring, and other features can be a valuable addition to LED deployments at a reasonable price in relation to the total project costs.
- Splitting & Tiling (for Higher resolution LED walls): Individual LED panels (each receiving a 1920x1080 or lower HDMI input) can be treated the same as individual conventional LCD panels in a video wall and can be tiled together by the Userful video wall controller with one receiver per HDMI input. This leverages Userful's 4K, 6K, or 8K output capabilities as well as Userful's artistic flexibility and control to create and drive large or unique video wall configurations. Note: For smooth playback on LED video walls, we recommend purchasing server and networking hardware from Userful that is capable of handling 60FPS playback to ensure the highest possible framerates.
When do I need an Nvidia Offload Card?Userful recommends Nvidia offload cards for all video wall configurations. 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%. For more details, visit Nvidia Offload Support.
Which Nvidia cards are compatible?See the list of our tested and certified cards. Other 10 series Nvidia cards also work, however use of anything below a GTX 1050 is not recommended.
Can I use Nvidia Quadro GPUs?Yes, starting with Userful 9.8 and above, Nvidia Quadro GPUs are supported. At minimum a Quadro P4000 is recommended.
Can I install more than one Nvidia Offload Card?Though some Userful systems come with the physical ability to install two or even three Nvidia GPUs, Userful is currently only capable of using one at a time for CUDA offload operations. However a GTX 1080ti GPU is powerful enough for almost any task.
Can I use an AMD GPU or APU in place of an Nvidia GPU?No, at this time only Nvidia GPUs are supported. An AMD GPU or APU will not actively hinder the system, but currently cannot be used to assist a video wall in any way.
How do I enable the Nvidia Offload Card?
- Ensure that you have supported Nvidia Offload Card installed in a Certified PC/Server
- Set the default startup GPU in the BIOS of the Userful host to the Intel® integrated GPU (if available)
- Go to the Control Center > Settings > Performance Settings and enable Nvidia Offload Card Support
- The system will prompt a reboot.
You will require a special license to enable Nvidia offload card support. See Nvidia Offload Support for more information.
How do I check if the Nvidia Offload Card is in use?Open Control Center > Settings and check the Performance Settings link.
Can/Do I connect my displays to the Nvidia Offload Card?The Nvidia Offload Card is used only as a compute device. In Userful 9.9 and later, you can connect a display to the GPU's ports for basic system configuration and management tasks, but there are restrictions on using this display for signage or as part of a Video Wall, as it cannot access the same resources as displays attached to Zero Client Receivers.
What is Userful Cloud?Userful Cloud is our central portal for remote management and content scheduling.
How does the Userful system connect to Userful Cloud?Your Userful system connects to our Cloud service using reverse HTTPS and SSL through a secured VPN over an available internet connection. Userful will be able to talk to Cloud unless it is completely disconnected from an Internet-facing network, or is behind a firewall that blocks outbound HTTPS.
How do I create an account on Userful Cloud?Visit https://cloud.userful.com and sign up to create an account and Organization in Userful Cloud. Subsequent users in your Organization will need to be invited by you.
How do I register my system to Userful cloud?There are three alternate ways to register your Server to Userful Cloud:
- Register your Server to the Userful Cloud during Installation of Userful software, OR
- Use the "Claim server" option available under the profile icon in Userful Cloud, OR
- Log in to your Userful Cloud account and press "Claim" button, if you are on the same LAN as your Userful server, OR
- Click "Resolve" on the prompt in Userful Control Center when it pops up to remind you that Userful is not registered to Cloud.
How can I create events and manage their scheduling?
- Go to Actions > Create Events to create events.
- Go to Actions > Event Switcher to manage switching among events.
How can I manage and view my customer's accounts if I am a reseller?At this time, only Users assigned to an Organization have access to claimed machines. Reseller/Partner support is coming in a future release.
Our Developer's Reference Guide is available here.
See our list of API commands here.
Can we use the Userful REST API to control scheduling?Yes, almost everything that could be achieved via interaction with the GUI can be controlled via the API. The API is real time, so it implements the action upon receipt of the command. This means any control of timing needs to be handled within your API script.
What are some of the things I can do with the REST API?Some of the requirements we have seen that can be met using the Userful REST API include, but are not limited to:
- Changing displayed Web content every 5 minutes (through switching sources)
- Creating playlists of locally-loaded video content
- Playing a single video in the middle of an existing playlist, returning to that playlist once the video ends
- Pausing and rewinding content (steps back 5s)
What is the difference between Preset and Source Switcher?Presets are entire saved configurations of the Video Wall - sources, Signage Player playlists, Web Browser settings, Video Wall and Zone configurations, etc. The Preset Switcher allows easy reconfiguration of an entire Video Wall into any number of saved configurations.
Source Switcher allows near-instantaneous switching of individual displays, Video Walls, or Zones from one content source to another.
Can I schedule Preset or Source switches to occur at certain times?Yes, with a Professional+ or Enterprise license, you can use the Events Switcher to schedule preset and source changes.
What is software support and maintenance?
Userful Software support and maintenance includes access to the technical support team during Userful’s regular support hours (currently 9:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. ET) and free access to any new software updates, patches and feature releases as they become available for the license tier that you have purchased during the active term of your maintenance agreement.
What is meant by support expiration?
Userful customers purchase 1-3 years of software support and maintenance with their license. Once this initial maintenance period comes to an end (typically on the anniversary of your original software license purchase), support and maintenance services will no longer be available to you until you renew them.
How can I renew my support and maintenance agreement?
You can renew your support and maintenance agreement by sending an email to email@example.com containing your Company name and System ID.
System ID can be located under Control Center > Settings > Manage Licensing.
When will I receive a notification that my support and maintenance service will be expiring?
We send our renewal notices 60 and 30 days prior to the expiration of support and maintenance service, to ensure that appropriate time is given to validate the use of licenses.
Why is it important to renew before my maintenance expires?
A renewal prior to expiration ensures continuous uninterrupted support and maintenance service.
What are the support and maintenance tenures available?
Support and Maintenance tenures available are for:
- One year renewal
- Three years renewal
Note: Please contact your Userful account manager about other available options.
How often are upgrades available?
Userful typically has one major release per year. Updates are available on a fairly regular basis, generally once every 2-3 months.
To update to the latest version:
- Login to your Control Center
- Go to Settings > System Updates and Extra Packages > Check for System Updates
- Install updates (if any available)
Note: An active Internet connection and a valid Support and Maintenance contract is required to access the software updates.
What are Userful’s support service business hours?
Userful's support is available during Userful office hours Monday to Friday, 9:00 a.m. - 7:30 p.m. ET.
What is the support targeted response time?
Typically the support ticket issued is resolved within 1-2 business days.
What happens if my Support and maintenance lapses?
If your support and maintenance has lapsed and you would like to renew then you need back pay any months/years you have missed as well as renew for the current year before you can resume regular service again.
What are the advantages of buying multiple years of support and maintenance in advance?Support and maintenance prices may occasionally increase so in addition to saving time and administrative overhead, it can also save your money thus ensuring continuous uninterrupted services.
Do I need a license for Userful?
Though you can evaluate Userful software in trial mode, a purchased software license is required for deployment. Maintenance and support is an optional (but recommended) extra service which can be purchased that entitles you to free software updates and professional troubleshooting and support from Userful. Please visit Support and Maintenance Renewal FAQs page for more details.
Who would physically support devices and screens should “hands-on” be required?
Typically the customer's IT staff or a local System Integrator will manage the hands-on support. Userful provides customer's technical support via phone and email from 9am-7:30pm ET Monday to Friday.
Does Userful™ support projection mapping?Projection mapping is the process of warping or aligning projected images and videos via image processing software to accommodate irregular projection surfaces. This allows real-world objects to be used as projection surfaces, correcting for distortions via software. When you project an image onto an arbitrary object you will find that the image appears distorted. For example, if the object has angles (or is rotated relative to the camera) the image will be awkwardly stretched and distorted. With projection mapping the computer “pre-warps” (maps) the image so it appears undistorted when projected onto the irregular projection surface.
Userful does not currently include projection mapping. However, we do support negative bezel compensation which allows multiple projectors to be stitched together into a single surface. Userful can handle the projection of the already mapped/distorted image, provided you can process the video externally to match the surface.
Does Userful handle blending overlapping images to adjacent projectors?
We can adjust overlap via adjusting for a "negative bezel" creating an overlap region, but currently we don't support blending (as in reducing the intensity in the overlapping region to correct for the double or quadruple light).
Does Userful automatically restrict content playback by enforcing copyright restrictions?
No. Userful itself does not impose any restrictions on what content can or cannot be displayed, though other systems such as HDCP do. We leave it up to the user to determine and adhere to any copyright restrictions and ensure fair use (which would be a formidable and quite likely even impossible task to automate). Some might argue that video walls by their nature are a public display, we have actually seen several examples of private personal video wall installations. So even the determination of personal vs public display is not within the bounds of what a system developer could assess.
Is Userful’s integrated Color Calibration compatible with all displays?Color Calibration is achieved in our software by adjusting color values directly at the zero client chipset, rather than adjusting settings within the display itself. This design ensures compatibility across a broad range of displays as well and has the further advantage of being able to calibrate color on video walls comprised of a heterogeneous mix of different displays. To learn more about Color Calibration, visit Configuring Video Wall.
Does Userful support TV tuner cards?
Userful includes V4L (video4linux). V4L is the software most commonly used to support TV tuner cards in Linux. However, for V4L to work a kernel driver is required for the chosen TV tuner card. Since the chipsets in commercially available TV tuner cards change so frequently, by the time drivers for these cards become available in the Linux kernel, the chipset is no longer commercially available. For this reason, Userful recommends that customers who require live TV use an external TV tuner solution that outputs a video signal that can be captured by one of our supported HDMI capture card solutions. Though slightly more expensive at the outset, this ends up being a much more supportable solution in the long term.
Does the Userful Video wall support 4:4:4 colorspace?Userful Video Wall currently support 4:2:0 colorspace.
- 4:1:1 color, is used for NTSC DV video
- 4:2:0 is used very frequently in MPEG encoding schemes
- 4:2:2 color is actually considered a very good color standard
Most computer software can use the neighboring color values and average in the values of the missing color values. 4:4:4 color is considered the platinum standard for color, every pixel contains the maximum color information. In 4:4:4 color, every pixel has a Y value, a Cb value, and a Cr value. It is extremely rare to see a recording device or camera that outputs 4:4:4 color. Since the human eye doesn’t really notice when color is removed, most higher-end devices output something called 4:2:2.
If you use multiple host PCs, is there a positive frame sync between monitors so that time stamps and watermarks per feed to each monitor are synchronized and the overall cluster can be examined and used in a court of law in case of a catastrophic event?
Currently there is a single PC driving the video wall displays. If you are rendering complex content one option is to use HDMI/SDI capture cards to bring in sources from other servers thereby distributing rendering load across multiple servers. So for example, if you had a specialized server that involved lots of computation that could be on its own server and we would just capture its output and render it on the video wall. Here current capture cards would limit that specific source to 4k resolution, however you could still have 8k across the entire wall.
How can we remotely ensure screens are correctly powered on and playing content at all times?
Userful supports connecting simple USB webcams connected to either the Userful PC/Server or a Zero Client Receiver. A webcam display can then be launched from the Userful Control Center (Support -> Launch Camera) or directly from Userful Cloud. Nearly any model of inexpensive webcam is compatible.
Can I control more than one zones with a single set of keyboard and mouse connected to a particular Zero Client Receiver?
Yes, that zero client receiver should be common in all zones and should be the control station of all the zones. However you can play/control only one zone at a time.
How can I have an interactive control-room style video wall with draggable and resizable sources output to the video wall?
We have a module add-on for purchase called Command & Control that enables this type of functionality.
How can a 30 or 60FPS 1080p signal be sent over a 1Gb ethernet connection? 30fps is 1.4 GB/s of raw data?
Like all video over IP solutions, Userful uses compression. However our compression is much better quality than most video over IP solutions. Instead of a low-cost “sender” device, we can utilize the full power of a PC to generate very high-quality (in most cases imperceptible) compression. This is not the quality you get sometimes with cheap “over IP” cable extension solutions.
We use standard Ethernet TCP/IP communication, so it can be routed through normal switches and normal network infrastructure. For very large video walls (and/or very high resolution 6k or 8k or 1080p/60fps content) we recommend using a switch with a 10Gig uplink to the Userful PC/Server.
Can I use my display's built in tile matrix scalar to reduce the number of zero client devices I need to purchase (e.g., buy just 4 zero clients for a 4x4 16-screen video wall)?
While technically this may be possible, the cost savings end up being minimal do not really justify the loss in functionality and flexibility. Here are a few disadvantages to consider:
- Only partial bezel correction creates distortion: splitting the source wouldn't allow for bezel correction between each display. Even with so called "zero bezel displays" there is still typically a 5 to 15 pixel gap between display edges which would result in small but detectable image distortion. Having each display individually addressable lets you correct for the gap between each display in the wall.
- Less Layout Flexibility: it wouldn't allow for future changes from your creative team. For example if you wanted to address each of the 16 displays individually and show 16 sources, or show 3 sources in different layouts of zones (for example a 1x4 combined with a 3x3 and a 3x1). Having a client device for each display gives you that flexibility.
- Much lower total possible resolution: Having a device for each display enables you to output 8k content (Userful's forthcoming 9.1 release will enable 60fps 8k content). Today you can do 30fps 8k content with the right offloading card. Even if you don't need 8k today eventually you will want 8k, and even today you want to play 4 simultaneous 4k sources which you wouldnt be able to do without having one device per display.
- Confusing representation and more complicated setup: When users log into the userful control center they will see ¼ the number of actual displays making things confusing for them. Additionally you need to setup and configure two systems (the controller and the splitters making setup and maintenance more complicated).
- Minimal Cost Savings: Although it does save you a bit on your hardware devices, it only amounts to about $100 per display as would still need to buy a software license for each display as per section 2.9 of our End user license agreement EULA: "a corresponding purchased software License is required for each Display outputting image content that has been generated, transformed, scaled, converted or subdivided by the Userful software."
Can Userful be used to stage live shows and events (similar to Coolux and Watchout)?
Coolux and Watchout are very expensive (and complex) systems for creating and coordinating visual effects at live events. Userful can use Preset Switcher to reconfigure the canvas on the fly, however it is not meant for fast switching and reconfiguration takes a few seconds or more, depending on the size of wall.