It can be overwhelming to jump into the world of video walls, especially if you don’t know exactly what to look out for. That’s why we’ve put together this guide, from all the frequently asked questions and stumbling blocks that we have found customers to experience, to help guide you in the direction to find the right solution for your needs.
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What are video walls?
A video wall is a collection of screens that have been tiled together to form one large display. This can then be used to present content such as videos, images or even different types of data.
The number of screens brought together can vary depending on your needs. For example, you may only need a 2×2 presentation (2 screens wide by 2 screens tall) or you may want to cover an entire wall with a vast digital display.
Video walls offer flexibility in the content you display. You can take one input and show this input across the entire video wall. For example, an advertisement like the one shown in the image below on a 2×2 video wall.
Alternatively, you can use a video wall controller in order to feed multiple inputs onto your video wall to show different content on different panels. For example, you could show different data dashboards or CCTV inputs
A wide variety of industries use video walls to convey information to a large number of people, whether that be customers or employees, such as:
- Control rooms
- Government and public sector
In a retail store, a video wall could display a video of your new product covering the entire display, while in a control room different types of data could be shown on each screen for your employees. With their size and impressive displays, your information can be communicated quickly and clearly. Regardless of the location, video walls are an effective tool for showcasing your desired message and will have a memorable impact on your audience.
What are the benefits of video walls?
Effective external communications
How can video walls help promote your brand?
This technology can be used in a variety of environments to effectively communicate important information and to increase engagement with brand and product messaging.
With the large-format nature of the display, video walls are eye-catching and can engage a large audience at once.
This could mean impressing your visitors in the reception of your building while serving important news and health and safety reminders. In a retail store or shopping mall, the video walls could be used to promote new products and sales. Food and drink vendors in arenas could use video walls to showcase menu items and highlight product promotions.
Outdoor video walls, in particular, are expected to grow in popularity significantly over the next few years as the demand for outdoor digital advertising grows.
Internal communications and engagement
Video walls are an effective outlet for internal communications too. Many organisations use video wall displays in control rooms, command centres and simulation rooms. The size of the display allows for large amounts of data from different sources to be communicated quickly to a room full of employees. As new information becomes available the entire workforce can react as a unit. The increased collaboration can help you to hit deadlines and respond effectively to situations as they arise.
Long lifetime and low maintenance
Another benefit of video walls is that they require very little maintenance and are designed for long-term usage. Compared to an alternative, such as a projector, a video wall will last much longer and see less degradation in brightness and picture quality over time.
The life expectancy of a video will vary depending on how long it is used, if features like brightness are turned up to maximum and if the display is an LED or LCD. The average lifespan of an LED video wall is 100,000 hours while an LCD is expected to last around 50,000 hours.
What are the types of video walls?
There are two types of video walls – LCD video walls and LED video walls. Deciding which option to go for is your first step in selecting the video wall you wish to invest in.
We’ll cover the main differences below, but for a more detailed breakdown of the differences between LED and LCD video walls, please see this article.
The difference in technology
LCD video wall panels use Liquid Crystal Display (LCD) technology. LCDs are not light-emitting, which means that they have backlights (normally LED) behind the glass to illuminate the display.
LEDs use light-emitting diodes as individual pixels across the entire display. Each LED acts as a tiny bulb that emits colour when electrically engaged. There is no need for a backlight because the LEDs produce light while producing the image. The technology can be referred to as Direct View LED.
Neither option is universally better than the other. Which technology you select depends on your environment and needs. The main factors that will affect your choice are:
- Indoor or outdoor use
Brightness and environment
In terms of overall brightness LED screens are able to offer a higher level. This is because LED screens can be used in outdoor environments, therefore they need a high brightness for content to be readable in sunlight. LED panels will go up to 6,000 nits in brightness. As LCD video walls are designed for indoor environments, they do not require high brightness levels and therefore range at around 500 nits or 700 nits.
The size you want your video wall to be will be a factor in determining which screen type best suits your needs. LED walls can be scaled to a huge area. Think about the size of the outdoor LED walls you might see running advertisements on city buildings, like in Times Square in New York, or at stadiums and arenas. LCD panels can be tiled together to create a large display wall too, such as a configuration of 18×6 panels for a control room. Yet, LCD has a limit, whereas LED walls are pretty limitless when it comes to size.
We’ll go into more detail about the cost of a video wall project later in this guide. Generally speaking, an LED video is much higher in cost. On average, you would consider a budget of around £5,000 or $6,000 for the lowest specification LCD video wall panels in a 2×2 set-up. Whereas, at the lowest end of LED, you would be looking at around £40,000 or $50,000 for an average project.
The table below summarises the key points to compare.
|LED Video Wall||LCD Video Wall|
Low end average $40,000-$50,000
Low end average $5,000-$6,000
|Lighting Type||Full array- even distribution of LEDs across the screen. This allows for local dimming that improves image quality by creating more contrast.|
Edge Lighting- LEDs are placed along the edge of the screen. The screen can be made much thinner but does not have the local dimming feature.
|Series of lamps at the back of the screen. These are spread evenly giving a consistent display.|
LCDs do not have the local dimming feature due to the display producing consistent lighting.
|Size||Can be as big as needed.||Can create large displays but has a limit.|
|Brightness||Range from 600 nits to 6,000 nits.|
Suitable for indoor and outdoor environments.
|Range from 500 – 700 nits.|
Designed for indoor use only, so don’t require higher brightness levels.
Local dimming can give parts of the screen a truer black to increase the contrast ratio.
Even light distribution limits the contrast.
What to look for in a video wall
Once you’ve got a better idea of whether you are going down the LCD or LED route, you can consider the different specifications of the panels on offer to narrow it down to the model and configuration you want.
Brightness is an important feature to focus on and the location of the display will determine this. In an indoor environment, you will not need as high brightness capabilities as you would outside. This is because brightness is used to counteract the effects of natural light shining on your video wall.
In outdoor locations or indoor areas facing sunlight, glare and reflections can make it difficult to see what is being shown on your display. A video wall that is capable of high brightness levels will be able to negate these effects. Outdoor displays are recommended to have up to 5,000 nits if they are in direct sunlight.
500 nits is usually a completely adequate level for your indoor video wall in standard ambient light, or you may need 700 nits if your video wall is in an area with a lot of sunlight, such as a lobby.
Contrast is another key feature when choosing a video wall solution. Contrast is the range between the brightest part of the display and the darkest, this is measured as a ratio. The higher the contrast ratio the more detail and better quality image the screen can produce. A higher contrast also enables easier and faster recognition of the information being displayed to your audience.
Some LEDs can dim sections of their screens to make darker areas even darker, which helps to increase the display’s contrast ratio. If contrast is a particularly important feature for your video wall needs, then you should look for options that include this local dimming feature.
If you choose an LCD video wall, one of the specifications to consider will be the bezel size. The bezel refers to the frame that goes around the edge of a single panel. When a video wall is built, the bezels of connecting screens meet. You will see this as a thin black line between the panels, as shown below.
You will often see bezel sizes like 3.5 mm and 1.7 mm listed. This size is the screen-to-screen bezel width. The thicker the bezel, the more you will notice a line between your displays, which can affect the viewing experience depending on your content. For example, if you want to display a lot of text or data on your displays, a thinner bezel could be a better choice.
As the technology has developed, video wall providers have been able to reduce the size and impact of the bezel on their displays. Some have been able to produce a display that appears seamless, like our seamless LCD video wall. This is created using a bezel compensation process, which merges the pixels between displays where the displays meet on each edge.
Various types of mounts are available, such as a standard wall mount, a free-standing floor mount and a pop-out mount. Each has their advantages and it depends on your space.
Standard wall mounts are the lowest cost, simple to install and are sometimes offered free with your panels. The drawback is that the panels have to be removed for any maintenance.
A pop-out wall mount will give the easiest access to perform any maintenance from the front.
How do video walls work?
Normally when users ask how a video wall works, they are wondering how to control the content on a video wall display. In short, you will either choose to daisy chain your displays, or you will need a video wall controller.
If you are looking to display a single piece of content across your entire video wall, such as an advertisement, you will most likely choose to daisy chain. Daisy chaining your displays allows you to present one input across the entire video wall. For example, a digital signage player could be your input. This input is connected to panel 1. Then each panel is connected to the next, which results in your one input being spread across all panels. The image below illustrates how this works:
Choosing a controller
If you wish to have multiple inputs connected in order to display different content across sections of your video wall, you will need a video wall controller. If you are building a video wall for a control room, network operation centre or command centre, you will require an advanced IP Based & KVM System.
Advanced video wall processor
Video wall processors have multiple inputs and outputs. With a processor, you can display different content instantly on different sections of your display. For example, you could have different dashboards and performance trackers on each panel.
You will select the number of inputs and outputs you require when purchasing a controller. For example, two input sources and four output sources. This means you can connect two different inputs (eg a digital signage player and a laptop) and control where they display on a four panel video wall. It might also be worth future-proofing your controller. If you think you may expand your video wall in the future, it could be worth selecting more inputs and outputs than you currently require.
When looking for a control device it’s important to make sure it has the connection ports that you will need. For example, HDMI is a common connection to screens and processors.
Ease of operation of the processor is key. You should be able to easily drag, drop and resize your inputs onto different panels or sections (multiple panels) of your video wall from the processor software. A great feature to look out for is a preview feature, so you can preview your different inputs and how they will look on your video wall within the software. A web application can also be incredibly useful if you want multiple employees to be able to change the video wall layout. This means employees can access the web app via a browser, rather than having to download the software suite onto their PC.
IP-Based & KVM System
The best solution for a control room, network operation centre or command centre is an IP Based & KVM System. KVM stands for “keyboard, video, mouse,” and means you can control multiple computers from a single keyboard, mouse, and monitor. Some KVM switches are local, which means they can control nearby servers and computers. IP-based KVM switches allow for IP-based remote access. For your video wall, this means you can control multiple inputs from anywhere in the world that has an internet connection to your network.
The three main components of the solution are:
– KVM node which connects to the input source (e.g. a PC, server, thin client terminal)
– output node which connects to an LCD panel of LED sending box
– operator station where you can control your inputs and outputs remotely
Unlike traditional command centre solutions by video wall matrix, this system does not require a standalone server or video wall controller and there’s no limit on the channels of inputs and outputs to the video wall. Since there’s no server, a bug in a single KVM node will not affect the entire wall.
Explore LamasaTech’s video wall processors here.
How much do video walls cost?
The cost depends on what your needs are. A bigger video wall will be more expensive. Many providers are happy to provide a free consultation to discuss your requirements and follow-up with a personalised quote. Prices normally start around $5,000 or $6,000 for the lowest specification LCD video wall in a 2×2 set-up. Whereas, the budget for an LED video wall is much higher and on average start at around $40,000 or $50,000. You’ll also need to add on the price of the mount that you select.
The main elements that will affect the cost of your video wall are:
- indoor or outdoor environment
- total dimensions of video wall
- LED or LCD panels
- bezel size (for LCDs)
- mounting system
- video wall processor (if required)
- installation and training (if required)
Edge lighting LED displays provide a cheaper alternative to full-array models. An LED solution that has full-array lighting will be the more expensive choice but for that price, you will get the best picture quality and the most flexibility when it comes to the shape and size of your video wall.
You also need to take into consideration the price of your control device. Depending on your requirements, you may be happy to daisy chain your screens without the need for a control device. However, if you want to feed multiple inputs into your video wall or are looking for a control room environment, there will be an additional fee for a video wall control solution.
You may wish to pair your video wall with a digital signage system to create and schedule the content for your display. For the subscription price you’ll gain benefits such as cloud storage capabilities and support for additional screens.
Learn about LamsaTech’s digital signage solution, PeakSignage, here.
The final considerations
Finding the right video wall technology for your requirements can be daunting when there are many options out there and a substantial list of elements that affect your decision. Follow the considerations we’ve covered above when you’re searching for video wall technology and you’ll get off to a great start.
Ready to plan your video wall project?
LamasaTech can provide a free consultation to determine the best video wall options for your requirements.
LamasaTech is a leader in digital display technology with over 12 years of experience. We support customers across a range of industries including retail, military and defence, government and public sector, technology, hospitality and education.
Please fill in the form below to contact our team or explore our LCD video wall range here.