Digital signage is a relatively new technology that’s growing at a rapid pace. The advent of DVDs in the 1990s was the catalyst that propelled the display industry from VHS-powered cathode-ray-tube TV monitors to true digitally enhanced flat panel displays. Ever-evolving, the industry is quickly moving away from disc-based media and now relies almost exclusively on computer players to deliver pure digital content. The displays themselves have progressed as well. While flat and rectangular will always be a popular choice, designers can now create screens in almost any shape and curvature.
“Without knowing the force of words, it is impossible to know more.” ― Confucius
High resolution, pixel pitch, LED, LCD, etc., etc., – at the end of the day, what do all these terms mean as they relate to your potential digital display? As the technology advances, the associated terminology has grown. As is often the case when any tech assimilates into the mainstream, digital signage terms with distinct definitions are now being used interchangeably. Additionally, new words are springing up like weeds. For anyone considering digital signage, a basic understanding of key industry words is recommended.
Common Digital Signage Terms
Video Wall: A video wall consists of multiple computer or television monitors tiled or overlapped to form what appears to be one large screen.
LCD Display: A flat-panel display that uses the light-modulating properties of liquid crystals via a backlight or reflector to produce images in color or monochrome.
LED Display: A display solutions that uses an array of light-emitting diodes as pixels for a video display. Their brightness makes them perfect for outdoor and indoor applications.
LED: A light-emitting diode (LED) is a light source made up with a two-lead semiconductor that emits light when activated. LEDs have many advantages over traditional light sources including lower energy consumption, longer lifetime and smaller size. Light-emitting diodes are now used in diverse applications including LED digital signage.
Pixel: In digital imaging, a pixel, or pel (picture element) is a physical point in a raster image, or the smallest addressable display element in a display device; so therefore, it is the smallest controllable element of a picture represented on a display. On an LED or SMD-LED (surface mount device – LED) display, a pixel is in actuality an LED lamp composed of three “sub-pixels,” each of which is an individual LED comprising the three RGB (color) components.
Pixel Pitch: A term used to describe the distance between pixels on televisions, monitors and other display screens. When discussing flat panel or curved display panels, where the display is either a light-reflecting or light emitting technology, pixel pitch is measured on the surface of the screen or display in millimeters. The term “pixel pitch” is typically reserved for LED display technology.
Narrow Pixel Pitch: A term describing LED displays with a minimum amount of space between pixels, usually 2.5mm or less. The narrower the pixel pitch, the clearer the display looks in up-close viewing.
Nixel: The building blocks of NanoLumens displays are our Nixels. Built with patented technology, these specialized LED modules give seamless pictures and a beautiful display.
High Resolution vs. High Definition: High Definition and High Resolution are terms that attempt to describe the clarity and sharpness of digital content being delivered via some form of viewing technology.
High definition and high resolution are often used interchangeably and sometimes share a similar connotation depending on the audience, but they are actually quite different. Both are measures of resolution, which is defined as the fineness of detail that can be distinguished in an image.
In order for a digital image or video content to be considered “HD” it must meet 3 specific criteria: 1) The display must be a widescreen format incorporating a 16:9 aspect ratio, 2) have a resolution of at least 1280 pixels x 720 pixels, and 3) a frame rate between 24 and 30 frames per second. In order for something to be “true HD”, it must have a resolution of 1920 x 1080, commonly known as 1080p (p stands for progressive scan). These constraints were created as units of standardization for the AV industry.
High resolution can refer to any display with a resolution that is sharp and finely detailed. As long as an image looks clear and detailed to the human eye, it can be considered to have a high resolution, even though it may or may not be HD.
High Dynamic Range — imaging technique used to reproduce a greater dynamic range of luminosity than is possible with standard digital imaging.
Contrast Ratio –– ratio of full on luminance of the brightest color (white) to that of the darkest color off (black).