WHAT IS A DIRECT VIEW LED
A direct view LED uses Light Emitting Diodes (LEDs) to render video display technology in red, blue, and green colors. As an emissive light technology, these screens display images brighter and in higher contrast than LCDs. It uses thousands of LEDs to create an image. LEDs don’t require a backlight, emitting a colored light when the right amount of voltage is applied.
Direct View LEDs can be used as indoor or outdoor signage. They offer a host of attractive characteristics—they are bright, reliable, energy-efficient, and deliver the best color accuracy and refresh rates versus any other type of display.
They are the ideal choice for large-scale digital signage installations that require high-impact visuals. With this technology, brands can create unique configurations with screens with no visible seams or gridlines.
PARTS OF A DIRECT VIEW LED
Let’s look inside the LED to see what makes it work.
LEDs: An LED is a small, electronic semiconductor, which converts electric energy into visible light. An LED’s chemical compound determines its brightness, color, and efficiency. Each full color pixel in an LED has one LED of each color: red, blue, and green. This combination allows the LED to display up to 281 trillion colors.
Support and Structure: This is the part of the display that holds the LED wall in position. Determining the right structure depends on the size, location, and weight of the screens.
LED Display: This refers to the screen which is comprised of LED modules. These modules are most often placed on a panel or cabinet that are used to construct large scale video screens. The display can be built in various shapes, sizes, aspect ratios, and styles. They can even be curved or 3D.
Controller: A controller is the hardware that sends the video signal to the direct view LED video wall. It manages the arrangement of each panel so that the video appears to be one seamless display. Controllers enable scaling as well as other adjustments.
WHAT IS PIXEL PITCH
The distance between each LED is defined as pixel pitch, measured in millimeters. The smaller the distance between them, the more pixels available to create the image. This enhances a display’s resolution offering more detail. With a clearer image, viewing distances can be shorter. Pixel pitch can be as fine as .9mm, with most screens at 2mm, which offers optimal viewing at 15-20 feet.
Direct view LED screens offer flexible configurations to meet any vision. LCDs are pretty much relegated to being 16:9 rectangles. But architects and designers crave more flexibility.
Because direct view LED cabinets are smaller, they can be grouped and tiled in various ways. They can conform to the space that’s available, including covering curved arches or hanging from the ceiling.
With LEDs, you have more design options. There are no barriers to what you can do with your digital canvas.
LED vs. LCD
Are LED screens right for your application? Let’s look at the differences between LEDs and LCDs.
LED digital signage can be seen from your seat at a stadium, in your car driving by a billboard, or as you look up at Time’s Square. It’s the product of smaller modules tiled together to create large images. LED had primarily been used in this outdoor signage displays; however, technology has now evolved to create smaller diodes to pack into smaller areas, resulting in fine pixel pitch. With this advancement, LEDs now look clear even from close distances.
LCDs had been the preferred screen for interior installations where viewers were close up but are illuminated by only white LEDs; whereas direct view LEDs have red, green, and blue. LCDs also have a disadvantage when it comes to tiling, as there are gaps or lines, which isn’t the case with LEDs.
Direct view LED screens are more than LCDs with the finest pixel pitch being about five times the cost of an LCD. With higher pixel pitches, the price evens up a bit more. But that’s just the initial cost. There’s also the total cost of ownership.
Direct view LEDs are rated for at least 100,000 hours of use. Commercial LCDs may last only a third of that. This matters if you plan to use these screens for a long period of time. You could have to replace LCDs much sooner than LEDs, which means that upfront savings is now not as attractive.
LCDs also need regular maintenance to calibrate the displays, so they match, as most often they are running 24/7. Expert technicians will need to color calibrate to match the color and brightness of each screen. This will add to your annual cost of usage. LEDs, on the other hand, don’t typically need any type of attention for several years.
AV MARKET SHIFTING TO LED
The AV market has mainly shifted to LEDs over LCDs. Uses want tighter pitches and desire seamless displays. There is uniformity in the LED video walls versus an LCD one. Further, LED video walls generate twice the brightness of LCDs, standing out in daylight. While they only need a fraction of that daytime brightness to be seen at night. The brightest LCD wall, by contrast, is only 800 lumens.
IS LED THE RIGHT CHOICE FOR YOU?
When it comes to choosing a screen, it comes down to how it will be used and where. In cases where a viewer will be face to face or extremely close to the screen, a 4K LCD may be the better option. However, fine pitch LED is making a case for close viewings.
Direct view LEDs can be somewhat sensitive, as they have thousands of tiny lights mounted on a wafer, running to the very ends, so they need to be out of reach. If they get bumped or touched, this could lead to problems. LEDs right now aren’t designed to be touched displays, but this is changing.
The best way to determine if LEDs or LCDs are right for your project is to focus on the main goals and restrictions. If you aren’t sure if you should choose LEDs or LCDs, you should consider these points:
- Is seamlessness critical? If so, you’ll only get this effect from direct view LEDs.
- What are the ambient lighting attributes of your space? If your signage will be exposed to natural light, then an LCD will struggle to compete. LEDs have greater brightness to contrast with the natural light.
- Do you have a specific shape in mind that’s not a rectangle? If you want to do more than just have a box of screens, then LEDs provide you this flexibility.
- How long do you expect this video wall to be installed? LEDs have a longer life than LCDs, rated at 10 years or longer, so if this is an installation that will be in place for some time, you’re better off with LEDs.
- What is your budget? Fine pitch direct view LEDs are more costly than LCDs but have more advantages.