Table of Contents:
Section I: Introduction
Geniatech’s APC395X is an Android-powered industrial PC made specifically for business use cases like digital signage. This means it comes with a few advantages over similar Android-powered consumer devices in the same price range like Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks or Android TV devices like Xiaomi’s Mi Box.
Simply put, consumer devices like Amazon’s Fire TV Stick or Android TV like Xiaomi’s Mi Box are designed for home use, specifically for entertainment, and are designed to be really easy to use. This is a great device to use for activities such as watching Netflix or playing a game, but not as great if you want to use it for digital signage.
Some key things that are different on consumer Android devices include:
- They are not designed for 24/7 use or made to be as durable as devices designed for digital signage.
- They cannot be bought in bulk, with manufacturers only allowing you the buy a few at a time.
- They have simplified app stores that do not have as many useful business apps for digital signage.
- They have less access to system settings which can be useful when trying to customize your device for digital signage.
Android devices made for businesses use cases often do not have these limitations. The reason being is they have a more full-featured version of the Android operating system, allowing the users to customize and debug devices as they see fit. This more full-featured version of Android (AOSP) has the full Google Play Store and access to system settings, allowing these devices to use business apps like remote device management and security apps.
Consumer devices like the Amazon Fire TV Stick or Android TV Xiaomi’s Mi Box run a more basic version of Android like you would find on a phone or tablet.
To summarize this, consumer devices like Amazon’s Fire TV Sticks or Android TV devices like Xiaomi’s Mi Box are great if you just need to set up a few digital signage screens in your store or office, but if you want to get more business-ready devices at the same price point, you’re better off picking an Android-powered business device like the Geniatech APC395X, which can be bought in bulk, has a full-featured version of Android, and supports far many more apps with the full Google Play Store. You also have full access to system settings which allow you to set up business apps like remote device management and security apps.
Section II: Purchase Options
Geniatech is an OEM hardware manufacturer with a global presence and a long track record of delivering quality products since it was founded in 1997. As such, it’s easy to order the Geniatech APC395X directly from them, with their US web store being the best option.
2.1. First, go to https://shop.geniatech.us/product/apc395x
2.2. Next, simply select how many devices you would like to purchase, choose “Add to cart” and pay with your credit card.
If you would like to make a bulk order select “Volume Quote” and fill out the quotation form.
Section III: How to Set up the Geniatech APC395X
Note: The Geniatech APC395X is referred to as an Android-powered industrial PC because it’s used much in the same way another PC like a Windows PC would be used. As such, it’s easier to use with a keyboard and mouse combo, connected to your device via a Bluetooth USB dongle - although you should be fine with the included remote. You’ll find though that certain tasks, for example using the Google Play Store, can be more difficult with just a remote. When using a mouse with this device, use the left-click button to select things and the right-click button to go back.
Setting up your Geniatech APC395X for the first time is very easy. Geniatech’s custom interface includes a step-by-step process for the first launch which helps you set key settings, connect to a network, and get started with the Google Play Store.
Here’s what you’ll need to do.
3.1. After unboxing your Geniatech APC395X, connect it to a display using the included HDMI cable and plug in the power source adapter. The device will turn on and after some startup tasks, you will see a setup wizard. Use the included remote to select options and input information.
3.2. First, set your language.
3.3 Next, set the resolution you would like to use. We recommend choosing the “AUTO” option at the top. Note that you will need to confirm any resolution changes you want to make.
3.4. Next, you can adjust your screen size, but you will need a keyboard and mouse in order to do this. We recommend leaving it as it is.
3.5. Next, set your network settings. If you have your device connected to the internet via an Ethernet cable, you’ll be good to go, but if you need to connect via a WiFi network, click on “Wi-Fi”.
3.6. Then select the WiFi network you would like to connect to, enter the password, and select “Connect”. If you inputted the correct information it will say that you have connected successfully.
3.7. Next, set your date and time settings.
You will want to set your timezone first and then turn “Automatic date & time” off and then back on again. Doing this will allow the device to set the time automatically using the internet for the timezone you set.
3.8. Next up, you will be asked if you would like to login to the Google Play Store or go to the home page. Choose “Login to Google Play Store” as you will need to complete this process anyway in the future.
3.9. Sign in with a Google account using your email and password.
3.10. After you finish signing in, agree to Google’s terms of service (and any other prompts you see) and you will see the Google Play Store’s main page.
Search for “ScreenCloud”, select “ScreenCloud Signage Player” and then select “Install” to install it.
3.11. After the ScreenCloud Signage Player app finishes installing, select “Open” to open it for the first time.
3.12. The first time the app loads, it will ask you if you want to enable the “Start at boot” feature. Select “Yes”.
Section IV: How to Set Optimal Settings in Android
There are a few additional settings you will want to set in Android to ensure the device runs optimally, let’s take a look.
1. Set a Default Launcher App
4.1. The Geniatech APC395X comes with two separate launcher apps (the app that shows when you first load the device and has shortcuts to the app drawer and other key apps).
The first time you restart your device after installing the ScreenCloud player app you will be asked which launcher app you would like to use.
We recommend using the “Launcher” app instead of “GLauncher”. The “Launcher” app provides an experience similar to an Android tablet, while the “GLauncher” provides an experience similar to an Android TV device.
Select the option you prefer and then select “Always” to ensure that the launcher app is always launched at startup.
Note: While following the steps above it’s likely that the ScreenCloud player app will load (as it had been set to start at boot in previous steps). If this happens simply close the ScreenCloud player app by pressing the back button twice or dragging in from the right to open the side menu and selecting “Exit Player”.
Section V: How to Set up ScreenCloud and Add Content to Your Screens
Note: Click here for a more full step-by-step guide on how to get started with using ScreenCloud.
5.1. In order to access the Google Play Store, you will need to log in with your Google account so if you haven't done so yet, go ahead and Sign in. After you finish signing in, agree to Google’s terms of service (and any other prompts you see) and you will see the Google Play Store’s main page.
5.2. Search for “ScreenCloud”, select “ScreenCloud Signage Player” and then select “Install” to install it.
5.3. After the ScreenCloud Signage Player app finishes installing, select “Open” to open it for the first time.
5.4. The first time the app loads, it will ask you if you want to enable the “Start at boot” feature. Select “Yes”.
5.5. When opening the ScreenCloud player app for the first time, you will see a 6 character pairing code (like the one pictured below) that you will use to pair your screen to your ScreenCloud account.
5.6. Login to your ScreenCloud account at https://studio.screencloud.com. Next, navigate to the left hand side and click on 'Screens'.
5.7. Select the 'Add Screen' button located in the top right corner.
5.8. Enter the pairing code that you see on your screen, along with a name for your screen. You can also choose to add the screen to a group at this point if you want.
5.9. Once you do this, you'll see your new screen turn up in the list of screens.
You can now add manage the content shown on this screen using your ScreenCloud account.
Section VI: How to Set up the AirDroid Business Remote Device Management Service on the Geniatech APC395X
As noted earlier, one of the advantages of using an Android-powered business device like the Geniatech APC395X is the ability to install and use remote device management services and apps.
If you would like to use a remote device management service with the Geniatech APC395X we recommend AirDroid Business, which we have thoroughly tested with this device and the ScreenCloud app. AirDroid Business makes it possible to remotely view or control your device, which gives you control in the scenario that something goes wrong. You can also get additional features via their Kiosk Mode and Application Management add-ons.
To learn more about using AirDroid Business to remotely manage the Geniatech APC395X, you can read our detailed guide here.
Section VII: How to Set a Secure Operating Environment for the Geniatech APC395X
There are a few security concerns that arise when using Android-powered devices like the Geniatech APC395X. While the more full-featured version of Android that powers Android-powered industrial PCs like this device bring advantages like support for many more apps with the full Google Play Store and access to system settings, these advantages come with some security concerns as well.
Many devices like this come with an older version of Android (the Geniatech APC395X comes with Android 7.1.2) that does not have the latest security patches and are often rooted (the Geniatech APC395X comes rooted as standard), which allows system settings to be changed but can also be a bad thing if the wrong person gets access to the device, as it can be easy for them to install apps or services that can then have full control of the system and device.
The good news though is that there are a few key things you can do to avoid these security concerns and ensure your devices run without problems:
- Make sure that your devices are connected to a secure network. Do not run your devices on a public or open network that guest devices can access, but instead set up a separate network that only you have access to. Also, make sure to use the correct security level for your network. Only WPA2-PSA and WPA2-Ent networks are fully secure, with other networks having vulnerabilities.
- Make sure that your devices are not physically accessible so that the wrong person cannot get access to the device. If your devices are in a location where they can be physically accessed, make sure to use a system like AirDroid Business’ Kiosk Mode, which allows you to lock down the device environment and most importantly hide system settings and block access to the device’s system with password protection.
- Turn off Bluetooth when not needed (the Geniatech APC395X comes with Bluetooth turned off as standard) to avoid unwanted Bluetooth connections.
- Turn off developer mode (the Geniatech APC395X comes with developer mode turned off as standard), which in turn ensures USB debugging and ADB access are turned off, to avoid unwanted connections.
To summarize all this, like on all platforms and operating systems, there will always be security concerns with devices like Android-powered industrial PCs like the Geniatech APC395X, but by putting the correct precautions in place you can avoid issues.
If you have any additional questions on how to set up ScreenCloud on a Geniatech APC395X device, or any other questions or feedback about ScreenCloud, feel free to reach out to our support team at firstname.lastname@example.org or give us a call at our toll-free support line at +18885575335.