Ask the Board – May 18, 2020 | JOSEPH McQUEEN

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“What is your opinion on using traditional video wall panels vs. tight-pitch LEDs?”


We’ve had a lot of experience with both video walls and LED walls over the past couple of years, leveraging them both in different situations. Video walls were once an extremely expensive solution, but the cost has dropped significantly over the years while improving the quality significantly. You can now leverage a 4K signal across a video wall with no external video wall processor, all while using Ethernet connected management to allow you to control, configure, and view the video wall remotely. This improvement in quality, control and capability has definitely changed how we build these solutions from even a few years ago and greatly reduced the cost. The challenge LCD monitors still have is a five-year life expectancy, lots of color calibration needs, the complexity of swapping the screens, and the fragility of the screens to begin with. I won’t even get into bezels here, but those definitely impact the quality of the content.

Tight-pitch LEDs address several of the limitations with LCD panels, but as with anything, there are trade-offs. LED walls typically have a life expectancy of 10 years, twice the life of LCD video walls. LEDs walls are built from panels, like LCD video walls, but in contrast, these panels are typically smaller, lighter, less expensive (per panel), and a little more durable. Color calibration is easier with LED (typically handled in software), so swapping one is much faster as compared with LCD. Built correctly, LED doesn’t have seams or bezels between screens, which provides more of a single screen than a collection of screens. LED’s main drawbacks are cost and lower resolution per inch. So getting a 4K LED video wall may require 16 feet or more depending on the pitch while LCD can do that in something as small as a 2×2 configuration these days.

We leverage LCD video walls primarily due to their cost in most of our locations. We still get a great experience with them and retain all the necessary features to keep them running at a fairly high availability. We reserve LED for our flagship locations, where we want significant impact or attention – a wow-factor. Quality LED walls are much brighter than standard LCD video walls, so they can be used in higher light areas natively. Done right, LED walls often are mapped pixel for pixel with the content so there is no interpolation, and often times, adding HDR capability provides the best clarity and color. Depending on the design of the LCD wall solution, there’s often scaling and currently no HDR support, so the colors aren’t as vibrant and images may develop image fuzziness.

About Author

Senior Manager of Network Services
American Eagle Outfitters

MEMBER OF THE DSE ADVISORY BOARD
End User Council

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