Ask the Board – July 25, 2016 | RALPH SCHORBACH


With so many flat-panel display options now on the market, what is the best approach to making the best choice for a project?

There are so many choices these days for flat-panel displays, so what is the best approach to making the best decision for a project?

Ask what and how the display will be used.  This makes it easy and hard in some ways.  Obviously you read all the technical journals, meet with vendors, talk with colleagues, go to DSE, etc.  When you review the use of displays, think of commercial vs. consumer.  If it is only on during business hours Monday through Friday, consumer will work great, and you will save a few bucks.  If you are a venue or location that requires 24/7 usage,  consider a commercial version that specifies higher hour usage.  That will at least cut the display field in half.  There are some general guidelines when looking to use displays in different applications listed below to further guide you down the road to selection:

Natural State: If you are using the displays in a natural state, i.e. hanging on the wall in normal “people” space; the easy part is you can use almost any manufacturer that fit the requirement the best. The difficult part is that you have SO many choices.  You can use consumer displays here, but expect to replace them every two to three years.

Protected Outdoors: If the display is going to be outdoors but covered and generally protected from the elements, i.e. under a covered patio. You might be able to get away with consumer; expect replacement one to three years and commercial for three to five years.  What kills them is the outside dirt, elevated temps and bird nests. Birds love them because it is warm on top.

Element Outdoors: If the display is going outside in the elements, it needs a custom enclosure, some method of managing the environmental limits, viewing angles and light consideration.  The field for these greatly shrinks. There are about a dozen aftermarket manufacturers that deal in this arena.

Public Spaces: If the display is external and in public space, the above applies plus you have to deal with the public bumps, bruises, scratches, bangs, touch, etc.  How much interaction will there be?  Public space is really tough on displays and has to look good, fit in the environment and work all the time.  These are part of a larger incorporated plan and development.  Typically, stick with commercial with an enclosure.

Extreme Outdoors: If the display is going to be in extreme environments like a marine application, military, or in the Sahara desert, you’ve jumped into a very specific niche.  There are probably only a handful of vendors that deal in this environment, and it will be costly.  Many I’ve seen have fairly small size product line and dimensionally.  Really avoid this route if you can.

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