How to choose the right display technology

| by Travis Wagoner
How to choose the right display technology

Whether it's a business, airport, sports arena or stadium, hotel or church, selecting the best technology for a digital display is critical. Is the display indoors, outdoors or both? What will it cost? Are there advantages to using LCD technology versus LED?

These are some of the questions discussed and answered during an education session at InfoComm 2016 entitled "How to Choose the Right Display Technology." Richard McPherson, senior product manager of projects for NEC Display Solutions of America, and Benjamin Hardy, product manager for product marketing, also for NEC, gave a comprehensive look at available digital display technologies and how technology providers can help their customers.

"The customer comes first," McPherson said. "You need to define what is needed in order to decide what is needed. You also need to answer the question, 'What is gained from adding this technology?' Some aspects to consider are budget, indoor or outdoor, available technologies, the viewing distance, ambient lighting conditions, installation conditions, and maintenance and service."

Hardware is also a consideration. Would a projector be a better option for a customer, or an LED display? If a projector is chosen, what kind should be installed? Lamp or laser?

According to McPherson, a laser projector will provide approximately 20,000 hours of illumination, while the lamp projector is capable of far less.

"A laser projector's color rendition and brightness stay constant throughout the 20,000 hours of laser life," McPherson said. "The total cost of ownership throughout the life of a laser projector far outweighs a lamp-based projector. No lamp replacement is needed for a laser projector, saving approximately $2,000 per year."

McPherson said the most common display technology is LCD. In looking at LCD, edge versus direct backlighting are key considerations.

"Direct allows for smaller bezel but will have deeper depth," McPherson said. "It's typically used for video wall applications and larger sized displays."

Edge allows for thinner depth but has a larger bezel. It's good for most signage applications where small depth is needed, according to McPherson.

Direct LED technology is an option as well.

"All LEDs are defined by pixel pitch — the space between active pixels," McPherson said. "With direct LED, there's emissive display technology, where the pixels themselves generate the light," McPherson said. "With an SMD, or surface mount device, SMD LEDs contain all three colors — red, blue and green — and each pixel has one SMD LED to make a full color display. Direct LED is typically used for smaller pitch and indoors."

DIP LED, or dual in-line package, is most often used for outdoor installations. Each DIP LED is a single sub-pixel of RGB. DIP LEDS are soldered to the PCB.

What will it cost? According to McPherson, projectors can offer the largest image at the lowest cost, LCD can offer the best pixel pitch for value, and LED is the most expensive but offers limitless size.

"An LCD is limited to 98 inches," McPherson said. "Projector and LED are virtually limitless."

Viewing distance should also be taken into account.

"What the display is being used for is very important when it comes to viewing distance," Hardy said. "As an example, general viewing of a display, like large outdoor signage, does not need as close of a viewing distance as analytical viewing such as CAD or CAM design work. At a certain distance, higher resolutions are wasted."

If the viewing distance is generally close, LCD is typically the best technology to use. When viewing from a longer distance independent of resolution, projectors are the best technology choice. If there's unlimited budget with respect to pixel pitch and viewing distance, LED is the respective choice.

When a customer has made their decisions regarding digital technology, installation conditions are important.

"What's the room orientation or layout?" McPherson said. "Is it a long narrow room or a wide room. Are there obstacles? Will the screen size be large enough? What are the installation costs? Will additional equipment — speakers, mounts, cables — be required?"

A good display technology provider will address all of these challenges and opportunities. 

Topics: 4K Ultra HD, Banks / Financial, Casinos, Content, Display Technology, DOOH Advertising, Education / Schools, Entertainment Venues, Government, Hardware, Healthcare / Hospitals, Hotels, Installation / Integration, LED Signs, Outdoor Signage, Planning / Integration, Restaurants, Retail, Retail Digital Signage, Stadiums / Arenas, Tradeshows

Companies: NEC Display Solutions

Travis Wagoner

Travis Wagoner spent nearly 18 years in education as an alumni relations and communications director, coordinating numerous annual events and writing, editing and producing a quarterly, 72-plus-page magazine. Travis also was a ghostwriter for an insurance firm, writing about the Affordable Care Act. He holds a BA degree in communications/public relations from Xavier University.

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