So you know you need a video wall system. Now what?
Choosing the ideal video wall solution can be challenging. You’ll need to consider a number of elements, including display types, controllers, software, integration, support, and more. This can feel overwhelming, but don’t worry if you’re not sure where to start! We’ve laid out the most important questions you can ask yourself to start identifying your needs and narrowing your options.
What are your resolution requirements?
Different display types provide different levels of pixel density, or quantity of pixels per inch. Pixel density is important because it affects the total resolution of your video wall and the sharpness and detail of images when viewed up close. If your video wall needs to display highly detailed content, or if people will be viewing it up close, you should select a display type with high pixel density.
How bright will the displays need to be?
Not all display technologies provide the same level of brightness. The brightness of a given display type is affected by the way it produces light and its vulnerability to being washed out by ambient light. If your space has large windows or overhead lighting, you’ll need a display type that provides high maximum brightness and won’t be washed out by ambient light. A display system that isn’t bright enough will make your content hard to see and can cause eye strain.
Will you be using your system for critical operations? Will it be used 24/7?
If your system will be supporting mission-critical activities and will be in use 24/7, you’ll need a display type that offers high reliability and longevity. Some display types, like LCD and Direct View LED, can support 24/7 use for years on end and may offer redundant power supplies and other added fail-safes. Be sure to avoid any display types with consumable parts, like lamp-based projection systems, since these systems will require regular downtime for part replacement.
How much space do you have?
The spatial demands of different display types can be very different. Flat panel display types, like LCD and Direct View LED, have narrow profiles and can be wall-mounted, making their spatial footprint virtually nonexistent. Other technologies, like projection cubes and blended projection systems, may demand several feet of floor-space. Before committing to a particular display type, be sure to determine how much space is available.
What’s your budget?
Different display types can vary dramatically in price. When exploring different options, be sure to consider both the initial cost of the displays and the total cost of ownership. While some technologies are more affordable upfront, the long-term costs of regular maintenance, consumable parts, and high power consumption can make them extremely expensive over time. Other display types are more expensive upfront, but are far less costly in the long term due to their efficient performance and minimal maintenance needs.
Will you be controlling content in real-time or playing pre-programmed content?
If your video wall will be used for control room operations, presentations, visualization, or any other application that requires real-time content control, you’ll need a video wall controller that supports this type of dynamic interactivity. If your system will be playing automatic, pre-programmed content, you’ll want to choose a controller that supports digital signage playback, distribution, and content management.
How much content will you need to display at a time?
Controllers vary in the amount of inputs they can accept and the number of different content sources they can display at once. If you need to display a large number of content sources simultaneously, be sure to select a controller with a large amount of inputs and outputs. You may also want to consider a controller that accepts streamed content sources, as this will give you more flexibility.
Will you be using your system for critical operations? Will it be used 24/7?
As with displays, some controllers are particularly well-suited for 24/7, mission-critical operations. If your application demands extreme reliability and resilience, look for a controller that is designed for 24/7 performance. These controllers are built for maximum reliability and may feature added fail-safes like redundant power supplies, which allow the system to continue operating if an individual component fails.
Will you be sending content to multiple video wall systems or auxiliary displays?
If you want to display content on more than one video wall or display surface, you’ll need to choose a controller that can manage multiple display surfaces simultaneously. If the displays are based on different technologies or have different aspect ratios, it’s important to make sure that the controller can accommodate this too.
Will you need advanced graphics processing capabilities?
Some applications – like education, simulation, and signage – may involve the display of ultra-high-resolution content. If your application requires these capabilities, look for a controller or content rendering engine that features 3D-accelerated graphics hardware and places a strong emphasis on graphical performance.
Who will be using the system?
When selecting video wall software, be sure to consider who will be using it, what functionality they’ll need, and how familiar they’ll be with the system. Systems in conference rooms and auditoriums will often be operated by first-time users. In these cases, a user-friendly interface and intuitive functionality are key. In control rooms with more experienced, technically-savvy operators, it’s important to select software that provides the necessary features, but is still cleanly-designed and easy to use.
How many simultaneous users will you have?
If your system will be used in an environment where responsibilities are divided between several operators, you’ll need a software platform that supports a multi-user workflow. If your team handles sensitive data, you may also want to consider a permissions-based platform that lets administrators control viewing, editing, and sharing rights on an individual basis. This allows boundaries to be set around the content sources and display regions that each operator can access.
Are presentations a key focus of your application?
If you plan to use your system to deliver presentations, make sure you choose a software platform that supports presentation-building and delivery. Some software allows the user to build and save a sequence of content layouts, which can then be presented one-by-one or played automatically on the displays. More basic platforms may only support real-time content placement.
Will your system be exposed to any environmental stressors?
As you plan your project, it’s important to identify any environmental stressors that could affect your system. Extreme temperatures, humidity, and vibration can quickly damage a display system not designed to withstand these pressures. If you’re planning to use your system in a rugged environment, be sure to select robust, mobile-friendly components. Some display types and controllers are specifically designed for use in suboptimal environments.
What additional technology will need to be integrated with your system?
Some video wall solutions can be integrated with external technology like conferencing systems, speakers, lighting, and shades. Once integrated with your system, these devices can be controlled through your video wall software. If these possibilities interest you, be sure to select a solutions provider with proven success performing complex integrations.
Are aesthetics a major concern?
If you’re placing a display system in a corporate environment, university, or public space, you’ll want to make sure it’s attractive and on-brand. For the best results, choose a solutions provider that offers a range of customization options. Some companies offer a broad selection of mounting solutions and can even add custom panels around your displays.
Will your system be fully supported?
Since a video wall is a major investment, you’ll want to make sure it’s protected and supported for years to come. Choose a solutions provider with a strong, long-term support program that fits your needs. Your support plan should provide easy access to knowledgeable personnel who can provide training, answer questions, and troubleshoot issues. If you’re using your system for 24/7 operations, make sure you have access to 24/7 support. Your plan should also provide on-site support in the event that an issue can’t be resolved remotely.
Will your video wall provider be able to access your site?
If you plan to deploy your system in a highly secure or downrange environment, your provider may not be able to access your site. In these cases, installation and maintenance may need to be performed by your own personnel or embedded contractors. Look for a solutions provider that offers in-depth, hands-on training and can prepare your personnel to support their system in the field.
We hope these questions have helped you start defining your requirements for a video wall system. Jot down your answers and keep them on-hand as you explore solutions online or talk to providers. The better you can articulate your needs, the easier it will be to find your ideal solution!