LED video wall displaying manufacturing scene

Compare Video Wall Types

What Type of Video Wall Display Fits Your Needs?

There are lots of different large-scale display options on the market today. While researching displays you’ve likely read about LCD, LED, projections cubes, and more. So, which one fits your organization's needs? Well, that depends on several factors such as use case, environment, budget, and more.

Every type of display technology comes with unique strengths and weaknesses. Each is suited for specific applications and environments. To help you get started, here is a quick guide to the four leading types of video wall displays. Find out how they work, where they’re used, and their key benefits and limitations.

LCD Video Walls

One of the most popular video wall types on the market today is LCD (liquid crystal display) . You’re probably already familiar with LCD technology as a regular consumer. Smartphones, computer monitors, televisions, and other devices have LCD screens.

How Do LCDs Work?

This flat panel display type is composed of a layer of liquid crystal between two pieces of polarized glass. When an electric current is applied, the liquid crystals shift and allow light to pass through to create an image. Liquid crystals don’t actually produce their own light, however. Behind the glass there are backlights arranged to illuminate the display. The most common type of backlight used in modern LCD displays are LEDs, or light-emitting diodes.

A tiled array of displays are mounted together to form a LCD video wall. There are a wide variety of mounting options available such as freestanding, wall-mounted, or curved. There are even portable options.

Common LCD Applications

  • Control rooms
  • Education and research facilities
  • Conference rooms and other presentation spaces
Freestanding LCD Video Wall

Advantages

High resolutions

Due to their high pixel density, LCD panels provide some of the highest total resolutions of any of today’s display technology. LCD video walls can display text, images, and video in extremely sharp detail.

Reliability

LCD displays are extremely reliable and support 24/7 operations for years on end with no downtime. These panels are composed of solid-state electronics and have no consumable parts so they’re also very resilient to environmental stressors like vibration, humidity, and UV light.

Low cost of ownership

This type of technology requires minimal maintenance and boasts both low power consumption as well as long lifespans. These factors mean LCDs offer a very low total cost of ownership. When considering a long-term investment, they are one of the most affordable display options.

Disadvantages

Bezels

LCD display panels require a thin outside edge called a bezel. When LCDs are tiled together to create a video wall, these bezels form seams that are visible between the individual panels. They may be distracting in certain situations like digital simulations, or in cases where highly detailed content such as charts or graphs are required.

Fortunately, manufacturers reduce bezel width with each new generation of displays. LCD displays with bezels as narrow as 1.8mm are available today.

Image retention

In applications where static images are displayed for an extremely long time, LCDs can experience image retention. This occurs when the liquid crystals develop a “memory” for the position they’ve been holding and fail to shift again when the image is finally changed. Thankfully image retention is minor and/or temporary in most cases.


LED Video Walls

Direct view LED is typically called “LED” for short, which stands for light-emitting diodes. LED has emerged as an exciting new indoor video wall display type in recent years. However, LED technology isn’t actually new. It's been around for decades in large, outdoor signage. In the past they lacked the resolution needed for close-proximity indoor visualization. All of this changed with the development of very small diodes that allowed manufacturers to produce much higher-resolution LED display panels. Today, direct view LED is one of the most desired display options for indoor video wall systems.

LED video wall

How Do LEDs Works?

An LED display consists of hundreds of tiny light emitting diodes mounted directly on a flat panel. Each LED is basically a miniature lightbulb that emits colored light when a particular voltage is applied to it. Clusters of red, green, and blue diodes are grouped to create the full-color pixels needed to produce an image. Since the LEDs themselves produce the pixels, the size of the LEDs and the distance between them (known as “pixel pitch”) determines the resolution of the display. Displays with very small LEDs and a fine pixel pitch will produce higher resolutions than displays with bigger LEDs and a large pixel pitch. However, these higher-resolution displays are also dramatically more expensive.

LED video walls are built from a tiled array of LED displays. Some displays come with a mounting system built in, while others require the use of a separate mount. The narrow profile of LED displays allows for virtually limitless mounting options, including freestanding, wall-mounted, ceiling mounted, curved, and more.

Common Applications of Direct View LED

  • Large scale digital signage
  • Control rooms
  • Network operations center
  • Visualization labs

Advantages

Extremely bright

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.

Reliability

These displays are very robust and reliable. They can withstand a wide range of temperatures and humidity levels and expected lifespan of most LED displays is similar to that of LCDs.

Seamless

Since LED displays have no bezels, they can be tiled together to create a completely seamless display canvas. Therefore an LED video wall provides an immersive, high-impact visual experience.

Disadvantages

Lower resolutions

While current indoor LED panels provide far higher resolutions than older models, they are still much lower-resolution than other display options like LCD or rear projection. These higher-res display types are therefore still preferable for situations where highly-detailed content must be viewed at close-proximity.

High initial cost

Although prices have dropped in recent years, the price-point of higher-resolution LED displays is currently several times the price of LCDs. The upfront cost difference puts this technology out of reach for many customers.


Blended Projection Systems

Blended projection systems combine the output of multiple projectors to produce an image that is larger and/or displayed at a higher-resolution than could be generated by a single projector. These systems can display content on a completely seamless surface of virtually any size and shape.

Blended projection video wall for theatre

How Blended Projection Works

Blended projection works by overlapping two or more projected images and gradually cross-fading their edges to produce a single, seamless image. A blended projection system can be designed with rear or front projection. In a rear blended projection system, the projectors are placed behind the screen in an enclosed room, where they either project light directly onto the screen, or onto mirrors that then reflect it onto the screen. In a front blended projection system, the projectors are mounted in front of the screen surface and reflect light directly onto it.

Instead of tiling together multiple displays like an LCD or LED video wall, a blended projection system blends the output of multiple projectors to create a large display surface.

Common Applications of Blended Projection

  • Simulation
  • Education and research
  • Architecture and engineering

Advantages

Seamless

Blended projection systems produce a completely seamless display surface. This makes them an excellent solution for immersive applications such as during high-resolution simulations.

Any shape display

A blended projection system can produce images on curved, angular, or even spherical surfaces with some additional image mapping and processing.

Any size display

When using several very bright projectors, these systems produce extremely large display surfaces that still appears bright and sharp. Since the size and resolution of the image depends only on the type of projectors and number used, the display surface can theoretically be as large as desired.

Disadvantages

Vulnerable to ambient light

Ambient light heavily impacts the brightness and contrast ratios of a blended projection system. Systems designed with front projection are especially vulnerable to any light in the space and may require very bright projectors to produce sufficient contrast ratios.

Large footprint (rear-projection system only)

Rear projection systems take up a lot of space. They require a large, enclosed room to house projectors that require 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 is costly and labor-intensive. This makes it difficult and costly 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.


Rear Projection Video Walls

Like LCDs, rear projection displays, or "cubes," are an enduringly popular display option. This display type has existed for many years and is available in a range of sizes and resolutions.

Rear projection cube video wall

How Do Rear Projection Cubes Work?

A rear projection display consists of a projection system and mirror encased in a sealed cube. The cube enclosure is used to limit the effects of ambient light and improve the brightness and contrast levels of the displays. Inside the cube the projector shines light onto a mirror, which then reflects it onto the display screen to produce an image.

A projection cube video wall is built by stacking multiple cubes on top of each other in a tiled array. Cubes can be arranged in flat, curved, and even non-rectangular arrays. While they are generally too heavy to be wall-mounted, they can be built into a recessed space so that the display surface is flush with the surrounding wall.

Common Applications of Rear Projection Cubes

  • Control rooms
  • Operations centers
  • Simulations
  • Educational and research facilities

Advantages

Virtually seamless

With seams, or “mullions,” as narrow as 0.2 mm, an array of rear projection cubes appears virtually seamless while still providing the scalability of a tiled display system.

Many shapes and sizes

Cubes offer a lot of design flexibility since they are available in a wide range of sizes and aspect ratios. These video walls can be flat, curved, or non-rectangular. Cubes are available in larger panel sizes, which makes this display type a cost-effective solution for very large video walls.

High reliability

Legacy models used lamps as a light source, but 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 which makes them suitable for mission-critical applications.

Disadvantages

Large footprint

When compared to LCD and LED panels, rear projection cubes have a large footprint. Most are at least 24” deep and are quite heavy. That means they must be mounted on the floor or a solid platform. Rear-serviceable models also 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 is always 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. Therefore, viewers located at wider angles may notice problems with the displayed content such as significant light fall-off and/or color uniformity issues.


White paper icon

We hope you’ve enjoyed this introduction to video wall display types! Do you want to learn more about choosing the right display type to fit your needs? Our free white paper, A Comparison of Video Wall Technologies, provides detailed explanations of seven popular display types. It compares panel qualities like resolution, brightness, reliability, cost of ownership, and more.

Download

Learn More About Video Walls

Video Wall Basics

What does the phrase "video wall system" bring to mind? For most people, it’s the group of screens tiled together to create a single, large display surface…

Learn the Basics

Benefits of a Video Wall System

A video wall system is a considerable investment. So why should you spend the extra money instead of using a single large display or set of monitors...

See Benefits

Video Wall Considerations

Choosing the ideal video wall solution is a challenge. There are a number of elements to consider including display types, processors, software, integration…

What to Consider