Gary Feather, CTO, NanoLumens: In part 1 of this series, I discussed the recent innovations in the LED digital signage industry with reference to pixel pitch. In part 2, I will discuss the competitive landscape of LCD technology.
The comparison to the LCD TV is an important one. Various applications of LCD panels are currently less than 80 percent of all units shipped in the digital signage business today. The future of our industry will benefit from LED tiled displays as the resolution meets the needs currently satisfied by LCD panel implementations. Determining how LED will benefit and why requires a little perspective on what the customer desires for a solution.
LED will rarely, if ever, outsell the LCD single-panel solutions in units. In fact, LCD or emerging OLED single panels enjoy all of the momentum and growth of the $50 billion consumer TV market. Visual video performance is stellar on the most critical LCD systems such home theater with a brightness limitation of 500 nits, which is overcome through upgraded backlights. When one single display panel is sufficient for the customer for a digital signage application, LCD is most often the solution of choice.
An LCD typically supports an equivalent pixel pitch of 0.7 millimeters. UHD or 4K displays, which are rarely used in signage but prominent in the consumer TVs seen this year, are typically pixel pitches of 0.35 millimeters. The fill factor of the LCD TV is greater than that of the seamless-tile style LED modular display walls. Today’s LCD TV supports flat displays with bezels, those black cross-hatch lines found between individual displays when areas larger than one square meter are desired. Despite the narrow bezel solutions of 0.9 millimeters, tiled LCDs have noticeable black dividing lines that are objectionable if the customer wants a single video display experience.
With regard to resolutions, initial thinking might suggest that competitive LED digital signage solutions must track LCD and get down to 0.7-mm or even 0.35-mm pixel pitches in order to be a viable replacement. This is simply not true.