Whether updating an existing control room or building a new space from scratch, your organization must make a lot of decisions regarding technology. Of all the components that go into a control room, the operators’ data visualization system is one of the most important. If a large-scale video wall is right for your team, choose the system’s displays carefully. Two of the most popular display types are LED and LCD. While they may seem similar on paper, both have advantages and disadvantages. Let’s take a step back from the control room as a whole and consider some of the key features of either display option in order to make the right choice for your video wall.
LCDs (or Liquid Crystal Displays) are composed of two polarized pieces of glass surrounding a layer of liquid crystals. The liquid crystals have properties similar to both liquids and solids. However, the molecules can still be arranged in a crystal-like structure. Images in the display are created when an electric current forces the crystals to shift as light passes through them. Liquid crystals themselves aren’t light-emitting, so standard LCD panels feature their own backlighting array that shines through the arrangement of liquid crystals to create the display’s picture.
LCDs provide a very high-resolution picture without a massive price tag. They are also extremely bright and reliable compared to other display technology. Their naturally sharp detail means they can easily display video, text, and images with clarity. LCDs are typically the favored for Security Operations Centers (SOCs), university research labs, and other applications that require minute detail.
The greatest disadvantage to an LCD video wall is the necessity of bezels between the displays. Bezels, or borders, line the outer edge of each display panel. While direct view LED panels can be tiled with virtually no bezel, anyone building an LCD video wall must incorporate these bezels into their overall design. However, manufacturers continuously find ways to reduce bezel size with each new generation of display. Expect newer LCD panels to offer far thinner and less noticeable bezels.
An LED (or Light Emitting Diode) display is similar to an LCD. However, unlike LCD, LED uses an array of light-emitting diodes as individual pixels across the entire display. Hundreds and hundreds of LEDs across the display are grouped in clusters of red, green, and blue which provide their own light while producing the required image.
Direct View LED debuted in the 1960s as a low-resolution display type for outdoor lighting and signs, since they were bright enough to compete with sunlight. However, over the years the technology has evolved to much smaller diodes. These advancements made LED panels a terrific option for indoor video walls.
LED panels can be easily tiled together for a virtually seamless canvas, i.e. no bezels. Aside from this aesthetic benefit, the brightness, enhanced color accuracy, and overall refresh rate of LEDs make this display type a vibrant choice for control room spaces that need to monitor data-driven applications such as SCADA layouts.
The average price of LEDs increased over the years alongside the enhancements to the technology itself. These prices have begun to come down in recent years and are expected to lower even further, but high-resolution LED panels are still more expensive than their LCD counterparts. Additionally, LEDs are best suited for static images as they can’t match the ultra-high resolutions of an LCD. Use-cases that require regular video footage review may still require LCDs over LED.
Ultimately, there is no single option that is uniformly better than the other – it will depend on your specific use case. When it comes time to decide, you can rest assured you made the right choice by analyzing your needs and your control room. If direct video feeds and high-resolution image clarity are vital, LCD is likely your choice. If static, or data-based imagery and layouts unencumbered by bezels are more important, then your room might be more suited for LED displays. Be sure to partner with the right video wall solutions provider to make certain you’re guided down the right path.