And now we continue with seven more reasons why consumer displays are not an option for any serious digital signage application:
Off-site Display Management
If you plan on managing your signage displays from an off-site, centralized location, having a remote-management feature on the displays is a must. It allows you, through any web browser, to log into the display’s control panel and make changes and adjustments. You connect to the display with an RJ45 or RS232 connection through your network.
Some displays offer a scheduling feature that allows you to program the display to turn on and off each day. This feature is different from your signage player’s on/off feature. If you were to turn the power button off on most signage players, it won’t turn off your display. Displays without a scheduling feature will have to manually power on and off each day, or you will have to find a third-party solution.
Cloning is a feature allowing you to copy a display’s video settings onto other displays, making all the display screen’s video equal. When you set up multiple displays, each display’s factory settings can be defaulted differently. If the colors were mismatched on one of the other displays, it would stand out, and not look uniform. All displays have many settings for tint, contrast, brightness, resolution and much more. Commercial displays offer a lot more tweaking controls than consumer displays. Cloning makes it quick and easy to duplicate the settings onto the other displays for a consistent, uniform look. Some displays use a USB drive to clone; others use a network connection RJ45 or RS232.
Many commercial displays are designed to be used for video walls, with a special application built into the display, called tile matrix, or sometimes it is called “split zoom.” This is the most cost-effective way to use a video wall as one giant screen. For this type of application, only one signage player is needed to operate the video wall. If you are going to install a video wall to use as one giant screen, having tile matrix is an important feature on your displays.
Commercial displays have heavy-duty components, which are meant to operate the display for longer periods of time than consumer models. Most commercial displays can work fine for 18 hours per day for many years. But some displays are certified to operate 24/7. If you are open 24/7, using this type of display would be highly recommended. The 24/7 certified displays are generally warranted for three years, but can last up to eight years, or more running 24/7. Certified 24/7 displays do cost more.
A standard, flat-panel display for the home consumer is 200 to 300 Nits. Commercial displays can go up to 7,000 Nits or brighter.
HDR (high dynamic range) is a video format that vastly increases contrast ratio and color palette to offer a more realistic, natural image that couldn’t be reproduced on-displays before. This format is fairly new and isn’t found on a lot of displays and players yet. Samsung, LG, Sony, Panasonic, Hisense, TCI and Sharp have announced supporting HDR displays.
Displays and players must be HDR-compatible to play HDR content. And you need HDMI 2.0a to connect the player to the display. Some players and displays only require a software upgrade to be compatible. HDR is only good if you have HDR content. HDR content is very limited, so if you decide to use this format, you will have to create your own HDR content. This format is good for showing fine details in clothing, jewelry and other products. But retailers can also use 4K UHD for displaying fine details in product close-up shots.
Service and Warranty Issues
If an issue arises needing a technician for a display repair, how is the display going to be serviced during warranty? One of the best reasons to purchase commercial displays is the warranty. Most commercial displays offer three-year, onsite parts-and-labor limited warranties. Some offer optional service-speed options, and most offer extended warranties of up to two additional years.
As I explained in Part I, using a consumer display in a commercial application could void the warranty. With consumer displays, you will likely have to send it off to a repair facility. When you have to send the display for service, you leave a blank spot where the display was mounted. Not very attractive, to say the least. Even with onsite service, some manufacturers require you to un-mount the display at your expense, for easy access for the service technician. Once the issue is resolved, you will have to remount it. Sometimes, you can pay an additional fee and have the service technician do this for you.
There are surely more issues to weigh, but perhaps there is more than enough evidence above for you to confidently eliminate consumer displays as an option for your digital signage solution.