What kind of video wall is right for you?
LCD? Projection cubes? Direct view LED? If you’ve started researching display types, you’ve probably encountered all of these options and more. So which one is right for you? Well, that depends. Every display technology has unique strengths and weaknesses, and will be better-suited to some applications than to others. To help you get started, we’ve created a quick guide to the four leading display types. Find out how they work, where they’re used, and their key strengths and limitations.
Due to their high pixel density, LCDs can provide some of the highest total resolutions of any technology available today. LCD video walls can display text, images, and video in sharp detail.
Reliable and resilient
LCDs are extremely reliable and can support 24/7 operations for years on end with no downtime. Since they’re composed of solid-state electronics and have no consumable parts, they’re also very resilient to environmental stressors like vibration, humidity, and UV light.
Low total cost of ownership
With minimal maintenance requirements, low power consumption, and long lifespans, LCDs offer a very low total cost of ownership, making them one of the most affordable display options in the long term.
When LCDs are tiled together to create a video wall, bezels (or seams) are visible between the individual panels. Bezels may be seen as distracting in immersive applications like simulation or in cases where detailed charts are displayed. Fortunately, manufacturers reduce bezel width with each new generation of displays, and bezels as narrow as 1.8mm are available today.
In applications where a static image is displayed for an extremely long time, LCDs may experience image retention. This occurs when the liquid crystals develop a “memory” for the position they’ve been holding and fail to shift when the image is finally changed. In most cases, image retention is minor and temporary.
Direct view LED offers the highest maximum brightness of all leading display technologies. This makes LED an excellent solution for spaces with significant ambient light.
Reliable and resilient
LED displays are very robust and reliable, and can withstand a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels. The expected lifespan of most LED displays is similar to that of LCDs.
Since LED displays have no bezels, they can be tiled together to create a completely seamless video wall, delivering an immersive, high-impact visual experience.
While the latest indoor LED displays can provide far higher resolutions than previous models, they are still much lower-resolution than competing technologies like LCD and rear projection. For applications where highly-detailed content must be viewed at close-proximity, LCD and projection-based systems may still be preferable.
High initial cost
Although prices are expected to decrease over the next few years, the price-point of higher-resolution LED displays is currently several times the price of LCDs, putting this technology out of the reach of most customers.
Blended projection systems produce a completely seamless display surface, making them an excellent solution for immersive applications like simulation.
Any shape display
With additional image mapping and processing, a blended projection system can produce images on curved, angular, or even spherical surfaces.
Any size display
When several very bright projectors are used, a blended projection system can produce an extremely large display surface that still appears bright and sharp. Since the size and resolution of the image depends only on the number and type of projectors used, the display surface can theoretically be as large as desired.
Vulnerable to ambient light
Ambient light will heavily impact the brightness and contrast ratios of a blended projection system. Systems designed with front projection are especially vulnerable to ambient light and may require very bright projectors to produce sufficient contrast ratios.
Large footprint (rear-projection designs only)
Rear blended projection systems require a large enclosed room to house the projectors, which may demand up to 14 feet of floor space. Space is not an issue with front blended projection systems since the projectors are mounted in front of the display screen and don’t need to be enclosed.
Not easily scalable
Compared to tiled systems like LCD, LED, and cubes, blended projection systems are costly and labor-intensive to scale over time. Significant changes must be made to projector placement and lens alignment, and the projectors often need to be replaced completely. The screen must also be replaced since a larger display surface will be required.
With seams, or “mullions,” as narrow as 0.2 mm, an array of rear projection cubes can appear virtually seamless while still providing the scalability of a tiled display system.
Many shapes and sizes
Cubes are available in a wide range of sizes and aspect ratios, so they offer a great deal of design flexibility. Cube video walls can be flat, curved, or non-rectangular. The availability of very large cubes also makes this display type a cost-effective solution for very large video walls.
While legacy models used lamps as a light source, most modern cubes use LED backlighting, eliminating the need for regular maintenance downtime. LED-backlit cubes are extremely reliable and can be used 24/7, making them suitable for mission-critical applications.
Compared to LCD and LED, rear projection cubes have a large footprint. Most are at least 24” deep and are very heavy, so they must be mounted on the floor or a solid platform. Rear-serviceable models will require additional space behind the displays to provide access to the cubes.
Vulnerable to ambient light
While the enclosed design of rear projection cubes helps reduce the effects of ambient light, cubes still can’t produce the same levels of brightness as LCD or LED displays. Some ambient light control will always be needed to ensure that display content is clearly visible.
Limited viewing angle
To achieve sufficient brightness, rear projection displays focus light toward the on-axis viewer, so viewers located at wider angles may notice significant light fall-off and color uniformity issues.
We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to today’s leading display types! Want to learn more about choosing a video wall display? Our white paper, A Comparison of Video Wall Technologies, provides detailed explanations of seven popular display types and compares qualities like resolution, brightness, reliability, cost of ownership, and more.