FAQs: Hardware Compatibility

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Q: Can I install Userful on my Windows PC?

Userful™ is 100% browser managed product. Though the solution is built on Linux, you don't need any Linux expertise to install or manage the solution. Userful cannot be installed on top of Windows, if you want to test it on a PC currently running Windows, you can install it to a separate partition on your hard drive and dual-boot between Windows and Linux.

Q: Can I install Userful™ on my laptop?

Yes, you can install Userful™ on your laptop. However, note that mobile CPUs and GPUs do not offer the same level of performance as a desktop processor and it may not run a 4K video wall. Also, not all power and Wifi functionality may work. Userful™ is designed to run on desktop and server systems.

Q: Do I need to hire any expert to setup Userful?

No, not at all. You don't need any professional installer to setup Userful.

Q: Do I need to preinstall any operating system in my PC to install Userful™ solution?

No. Userful software appliance is integrated with a CentOS 7.4 operating system, it does not need any other operating software.

Q: Is there any way to configure your solution for fault tolerance in regards to a network outage?

Yes, Failover feature provides a way for fault tolerance in regards to a network outage. It requires two Userful host to be located on the same subnet and then configure failover relationship among the two hosts under Control Center > Settings > Failover Group Settings.
In case of failover, backup host will automatically take over the network zero clients of the primary host and continue playing automatically.

Userful Host

Q: What PCs are compatible with Userful™?

Please visit Hardware Guide for the complete list of certified PCs.

Q: How much content can I store on my Userful server?

The capacity to store videos and other content locally is limited by the capacity of the system's hard drive. If you need large storage, buy a large multi-terabyte hard disk or if you will be using dynamic content, buy a small capacity SSD drive which will yield faster boot times.

Q: What are the different ports used by Userful software appliance?

For the complete list of ports usage, visit ports used by Userful software appliance.

Q: Can you recommend or sell a compatible rackmount server?

Userful™ software appliance requires the use of certified PCs. Please refer to the list of certified PCs and check for rack mount rail kits that could fit in the rack. One of the certified PC Lenovo Thinkstation P310 Tower has a rack mount kit available.

Please note that Xeon CPUs are not tested at this time.

Q: Can Userful be run from a virtualized instance, or a cloud-hosted environment such as Amazon EC2 or Microsoft Azure?

As Userful relies heavily on the CPU and GPU of the hardware on which it is installed, running Userful in a virtualized environment is not recommended or supported.

Zero clients compatible with Userful must be on the same physical 1Gbps+ subnet as their Userful host as they have extremely low tolerance to latency and sub-optimal network conditions.

Zero Clients

Q: What is a zero client?

A zero client device is a piece of hardware that connects to a computer and has graphics capability; that is, the device can support a display without requiring another graphics card in the host. Network zero clients connects to the host through a switch or a router using network cables whereas the USB zero clients uses USB cables for connectivity. Check our list of supported zero clients for more details.

Q: Can I use multiple HDMI and VGA displays as outputs for video wall?

Yes. Our recommended zero-client devices include both HDMI and VGA outputs ensuring you can use a broad range of commercial and consumer displays.

Q: Is there any performance difference among various supported zero client devices?

No. All the supported zero client devices have identical internal chipsets and similar performance, the only difference is in the ports used for the video output. Visit supported zero clients for more details.

Q: Does Userful support a Samsung TV's native network input instead of a zero client device?

This is something we are examining supporting in future. Currently, a supported network zero client is required for each display.

Network Requirements

Q: Does Userful™ require constant Internet connection? Can an Internet connection be over wireless network or cellular modems?

No. Userful™ software appliance works fine without an Internet connection, provided all needed content is stored on the local PC. While getting a license key for the system is easier with an Internet connection, you can manage licensing without an Internet connection. If necessary, you can use WiFi or certain types of cellular modems to connect your Userful host to the internet. An internet connection is recommended if you require support from Userful.

Q: Can I deploy a video wall using a wireless Ethernet connection?

Userful™ can accommodate a use case where customers want to deploy a video wall within an existing building that is not wired for Ethernet. The Userful host would be equipped with a wireless card and located close to the video wall itself. In this scenario, it would communicate wirelessly with the LAN but directly (via either a USB connection or wired Ethernet connection with a dedicated switch) with each of the zero clients attached to the video wall displays. The Userful host can be a slim form-factor PC such as an Intel NUC which will fit elegantly behind the video wall displays. Unless your video walls are close to each other you might need a separate Userful host for each video wall.
Note: Wireless connection of any sort between the Userful host and the zero clients is not supported.

Q: When do I need to use a 10Gbps ethernet uplink?

While most Userful deployments work fine with a common 1Gbps network (including uplink between server and switch), for the high resolution (6K) content or large numbers of displays, the pixel throughput may demand a 10Gbps network card on the Userful host and a 10Gbps uplink port on the 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 25 displays using display-side scaling, or
  • you are driving more than 12 displays with server-side scaling or native 1080p playback

Note: Only the uplink port of the switch needs to support 10Gbps, the remaining ports which connect to the zero clients can be 1Gbps. Before finalizing the components of your deployment, contact your Userful representative for pricing and availability of 10Gbps network adapters.

Q: Which cable should I use to connect 10Gbps NIC on the Userful host and 10Gbps uplink port on the switch?

Cat-6a copper wire cable is required to connect 10Gbps NIC on the Userful host and 10Gbps uplink port on the switch.

Q: Can I use server-side scaling for the video wall configuration?

By default, the Userful host is configured to use display-scaling that uses the built-in scaler within the display to upscale the image. Almost all displays have a built-in scaler that converts incoming sources to fit their output display size. However, you can switch to "server-side" scaling by disabling the "Display-Scaling" option under Control Center > Settings > 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 NIC and a switch with 10Gbps uplink port if you have more than 12 displays in your video wall setup.

Q: How can I optimize my network?

To optimize the network, the Userful host and its zero clients should be placed on their own subnet. A second network interface can be installed into the host to allow Userful to create and manage its own completely isolated LAN when connected to its own 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 the Userful host should NEVER share a subnet with WiFi or other network devices that are not critical to the functionality of Userful. For more details, please visit How To Configure Dual NICs.

Q: Do zero client devices support optical fiber cables?

No, Zero client devices do not support optical fiber cables directly, the network zero client devices connect to the Userful host through a switch or a router using network cables (e.g., Cat-5e or Cat-6a). Optical fiber cables can only be used to connect Userful host to switch, or switch to switch.
Please note that the switch and the NIC in the Userful host should be compatible with optical fiber cables.


Q: How should I select my displays?

Displays can be purchased 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 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.

Q: Does Userful appliance support touch screen displays?

Yes. Please check our list of supported touch screens.

Q: What kind of warranty comes with the displays?

Userful provides a 30-day warranty on displays purchased through Userful. After the initial 30-days the warranty on displays and mounting solutions are provided entirely by the respective manufacturers.

Q: What kind of displays can I use to setup my Video Wall? Are professional displays (vs consumer TVs) worth the extra cost?

Userful™ software appliance allows you to output to virtually any display, and even intermix and color calibrate different makes and sizes of displays within the same video wall. 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 use of consumer TVs are justified.

Q: 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 quality 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, 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.

Q: Can I create a video wall using 4K displays with the Userful solution?

Yes. Our zero client devices are fully compatible with 4K displays and many of our customers have deployed 4K displays with our zero client devices with great success. Our zero clients output a maximum of 1080p 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 the 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 (which today is feasible only for static images). Perhaps 1% of the video wall controllers in the market are powerful enough to actually drive full frame rate video at 8k or higher resolution.

Q: Can I use different displays (sizes and aspect ratios) within the mosaic-style (artistic) video wall (e.g., creating a heterogenous video wall)?

Yes. Userful's video wall solution can correctly calibrate for different bezels, different models and even different brands of display and can correctly calibrate everything into a single video wall. Userful’s built in color calibration can also help you correct any color discrepancies between displays, even across different makes and models. You should ensure all the selected displays use the same panel technology such as IPS or MVA.

IPS panels provide the best color uniformity and viewing angles. Other technologies can exhibit contrast and gamma shift when viewed at off angles.

Q: Can I use Userful to power a video wall made of LED panels?

Yes. Userful is a great solution for many LED deployments. Even when the total resolution of your LED wall is less than 1080p resolution Userful still adds substantial value for many LED deployment use cases:

  1. 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).
  2. Centralizing the player/server & environmental robustness For many LED deployments, the Userful server is configured to output to the zero-client receiver(s) (attached connected via HDMI to the LED wall(s)). Userful is great for outdoor use cases (as you can keep your servers in a controlled environment indoors, and the receiver device -- which has no moving parts, draws minimal power and works well in high heat or sub-zero temperature environments and can even be power-over-Ethernet) can be housed outside within the outdoor display. By using standard Ethernet Userful gives almost unlimited distance between display and server without relying on flaky cable extension solutions.
  3. 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.
  4. 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. Please note that 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.

Note: Since Userful is licensed per display and there is no server cost, there is a minimum of 3 displays/licenses per server.

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