Better Understanding of Video Wall for Commercial Applications

Be it indoor or outdoor applications, setting up an effective video wall for commercial applications has never been easy. There are many factors you have to consider before choosing the core components and building one. Most importantly, you have to understand which video wall will best fit for your commercial applications. To gain better understanding of video wall for commercial applications, let's take a brief look at some existing video wall technologies which has driven the vast deployment for this solution in the past few years. In its most basic idea, video wall is known as an array of display stacked together in either regular or irregular configuration to create a bigger picture and thus immersive visual experience. The most common regular video wall deployment in commercial applications can be found in tile matrix system which is made out of multiple screens to display single scaled or multiple images. However, it is important to know that there are generally three core panel technologies to build these kind of video wall configuration. They are rear projection, LCD/LED/Plasma displays, and LED modules. Each has their own benefits and flaws for different kind of commercial applications. As such, you really need to get better understanding of the nature of each technology to make the best out of your video wall installation.

Strongly attached to the characteristics of the panel itself, these technologies also pose various benefits as well as challenges to video wall installation in commercial applications in terms of performance, scalability, power consumption, and overall total cost of ownership. It is because most commercial applications generally demand that the video wall application to operate around the clock for indoor or outdoor use; often public places. That aside, better understanding of the core technologies of the video wall installation will also provide better picture of what kind of content can be delivered and how to better manage them. Of course, you cannot leave audience in the dark for this case. To capture specific target audience, you will need to have better understanding on what kind of visual that will have the highest engagement since it is after all your main objectives.

Rear Projection

As suggested by its name, rear projection video wall installation is actually a video wall which is driven by a built in projector, instead of display panel as in the LCD/LED/Plasma-based video wall. So, the source image is captured in the form of light which is then reflected to the projection lens and get displayed to the screen. Unlike standard digital display, the rear projection is engineered with commercial applications in mind. Because of that, it is only natural that the components like image processor and the projection lamp, are widely available, making the maintenance and repair tasks much more easier even in extended period. On the flip side, the involvement of lamp in these kind of video wall installation indicate the same risk with the issues you always deal with projectors – lamp life. Although you can easily replace the lamp but it also means that you need to allocate more budget for maintenance and repair with this kind of video wall installation.

Design wise, rear projection video wall installation usually comes with special panel cube which does not have mullion (gap between displays) which is common with some digital displays. Without he mullion issues, it is argued that the rear projection is a better option if users look to create seamless visual experience with their video wall installation. However, these cubes usually got bulkier build since it need to make space for the projection unit and video wall processor. With the enclosed nature of the rear projection video wall system, users may also have to watch for heat and energy consumption issues. Since it is to be operated for extended period, there is higher possibility that the video wall processor will run hot at times, generating, heat and noise because it uses more power. One way to solve the issues is to use separated cooling system or positioned the video wall installation in places with good air circulation. It is especially important when it comes to mission critical commercial applications such as control room or traffic management room. In terms of performance, rear projection-based video wall installation has been reliable performers except the fact that the panel cubes may risk showing decreasing image quality as the projector lamp life is shorter.

But as time goes, manufacturers manage to figure things out and come up with LED-based rear projection video wall which used LED technology for the lamp and thus reduce, if not eliminating the heat and noise as well as power consumption issues. The introduction of LED technology to power the rear projection video wall also extends the product life span due to the better energy management while still retaining the high quality images. Despite the fact, digital display manufacturers seem to have taken the competition for video wall seriously and ready to take away the crown of video wall installation. In fact, the rear projection video wall is less popular than it used to be in the recent years because of the pressure of newer sleek digital displays such as the ones from Samsung with super slim bezels.

LCD/LED/Plasma Displays

As a latecomer to the video wall party as compared to the older rear projection, digital displays has build their path to the throne of video wall for commercial applications. The path is along one and definitely not any easier than that of rear projection. However, it seem that their hard work finally pays off as there are more and more digital display-based video wall installation in commercial applications. By nature, digital displays are used in diverse deployment including video wall installation. However, they are not initially made for this purpose and thus poses more challenges to the video wall installation. For one, traditional digital displays have serious problems with mullion issues where you can clearly see misalignment in some areas of a single displayed image due to the gap between active area displays. After gaining better understanding on the quality of the displays, it turns out that the main culprit of the mullion issues is none but the bezels.

Nevertheless, in later development, display manufacturer has seen great success in eliminating this issues and thus be able to create seamless visual as great or even better than the rear projection system can offer. Not only the bezels are super narrow, users can also expect latest iteration of digital displays for video wall installation to have better design fit for the commercial applications. For example, they are now much more sleeker with excellent viewing experience but packs the ruggedness and versatility aspect required by most commercial applications. That aside, latest updates on the digital display scene also indicate increasing adoption of LED technology as the most reliable and popular option to use for various applications including the video wall installation. LED-based video wall installation is believed to be very ideal for commercial applications especially since it combines great picture performance, flexibility, and higher energy efficiency; as opposed to the other two panel technologies.

Performance-wise, digital displays tend to provide higher reliability since it does not rely on lamp to produce images and thus more cost-effective. Users also do not have to worry about the decreasing image quality because of the lamp life. Even if one of the display in the entire set of video wall installation has issues, you can easily get it for repair or replacement. In case of varying image quality or color reproduction, users can find a solution with calibration tool or integrated image tuning and control.

LED Modules

The last entry to the arena of video wall installation in commercial applications is LED module which consists of thousand LED modules arranged in panels to produce images. Unlike digital display and rear projection-based video wall installation, LED modules are more commonly used for outdoor commercial applications which require highest reliability in terms of performance, durability, as well as energy efficiency. A lot of LED module-based video wall installation can be found with high demanding commercial applications such as shopping malls, public transit system, and exhibition space. Better understanding about the LED modules indicates that they are superior than the other two type of video installation in terms of image performance. Unlike rear projection or digital displays, the LED modules simply display the light source to generate an images. As such, it does not have any issues with color, brightness, or calibration for display or screen. On the down side, users will have to prepare high investment for this type of video wall installation since it is usually more expensive. And despite the reliable performance, users will have to keep in mind that any damage on single LED unit will require them to replace the entire set which means a substantial cost. For commercial applications, it is certainly a big concern since it is closely related to the overall total cost of ownership.

(Date: 19 April 2013; Lidya)

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