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Direct view LED video wall vs LCD video wall: What’s the difference?

In case you’ve been wondering if Direct View LED video wall vs LCD video wall is synonymous with ‘future vs past,’ you’ve come to the right place. The interest in video walls is only growing and we’ll be seeing more of those, especially within business environments, event solutions, and advertising industries. It all comes down to the technologies that drive both displays, so here’s some food for thought that’ll help with decision making. 

Read on to learn about the difference between a Direct View LED video wall and an LCD video wall or go ahead and check ViewSonic’s LED video wall solutions now. 

LED video wall vs LCD video wall comparison takeaways will be relevant for several forms of display technology and will help you make the right choice when exploring video wall options. Getting your message across to dozens if not hundreds of people daily is an important endeavor, and you want to make sure the display helps you connect with your audience, team, or community more easily.  

Over the past few years, video walls have become ever more ubiquitous; today, you won’t only find them in public places but also in workplaces, schools, art galleries, exhibition centers, research institutions, social and sports events, and even houses of worship. Of course, you want the images to be bright, sharp, and immersive. The beauty isn’t only outside, though, as it’s the underlying technology that impacts the video wall’s quality. 

Direct View Led Video Wall - benefits

In the past, the most common display technology for video walls was LCD, but today’s large-format all-in-one LED displays have many advantages that have helped them become the new industry standard very quickly. In this post, we’ll discuss the differences between LED and LCD large format displays in more detail, give a general overview of each technology, and delve into the reasons why a high-quality all-in-one LED display is invariably the best option for large-format display requirements. 

LCD Display Technology for Video Walls 

Historically, LCD video wall display technology has been the most popular and it’s a good place to start with technical insights. LCD stands for liquid crystal display. Liquid crystals are sandwiched between the polarizing filters and electrodes and topped with the display surface (something we casually refer to as a screen). The bottom part of the video wall is made of fluorescent lighting which backlights the liquid crystals. The light passes through the crystals and those – powered by varying electric current – produce the desired color. 

LCD video wall displays are usually constructed by linking together four or more LCD screens. That’s because individual panels are not big enough and have size limits. The downside is, the bigger number of panels will be assembled, the heavier the display will become. That makes delivery and installation more difficult. 

A major benefit of LCD displays is the sharp, crystal-clear image quality, which is especially apparent when you come up close to the display. Besides, its long-standing status as the most popular technology for video walls has helped to ensure the product’s relatively low price.  

LCD technology remains a perfectly viable display option, but, aside from challenging delivery and setup, it is no longer regarded as the go-to video wall solution. Keep reading to find out more reasons. 

LED Display Technology for Direct View LED Video Walls 

Although LED technology for video walls is nothing new, it’s quickly gaining in popularity thanks to all its improvements. It has, consequently, become more accessible.  

While LCD is a multi-layered thick device, the LED is much thinner and more effective. In contrast to LCD technology, LED video walls are typically constructed from modules of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) making the whole display slimmer and with higher brightness capability (discussed later in the post). Each diode works as the actual display pixel — emitting Red, Green or Blue (RGB) values to create any desired color. Since the LEDs produce the image for the display themselves, they don’t need any backlighting or filtering which considerably reduces the number of layers.

Within the broader category of LED video walls, there are also different packaging technologies. For more context, those include surface mount diode (SMD), integrated matrix device, and dots in place, but the real breakthrough happens elsewhere. It’s the chip-on-board or COB technology, that has emerged as the LED game-changer of recent times. The most revolutionary aspect of this invention was the tightest pixel pitch that allows the direct mounting of the diodes onto the print circuit, placing them evenly along its surface.

The emergence of all-in-one LED displays has also helped to improve the technology’s popularity. A Direct View LED display eliminates the LCD panel, resulting in a brighter picture and greater color clarity. Most importantly, it eliminates the grid issue and image uniformity when combining multiple LCD panels together, so there are no lines breaking up the displayed content. This is why Direct View LED technology can now create much larger video walls. The very latest all-in-one solutions also integrate power, display, image stitching, and control systems for the ultimate user experience. 

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Direct View LED Display vs LCD Display: Which is Better? 

At the heart of the LED display vs LCD display comparison, it’s all about the use, impact, and price. In the sections below, let’s explore some of the various elements that make up the user’s experience and the cost-effectiveness of a video wall. That includes some of the plus points and drawbacks of these two competing technologies. 

The Overall Viewing Experience 

 Let’s tackle the overall viewing experience. This is an area where Direct View LED technology excels. Rather than serving as a backlight, the LED display adopts red, green, and blue LEDs for each pixel, and adjusts the values of each of those colors to create billions of possible colors for use on the display itself. Coloring the image directly from the light emitted from the diodes helps to provide a truer depiction of color, which can work magic in terms of heightening the audience’s sensory receptiveness. 

Calibrating and synchronizing all the LCD screens require specific software that will add, both in costs and complexity, to the overall system. Each LCD panel operates, and therefore degrades, on an individual basis, which means they require calibration at different times. Panel degradation definitely adds up to the total cost of ownership. 

Finally, it should be noted that added thickness of LCD displays — imagine over 110 mm — can also look cumbersome or unwieldy in an indoor space. This can detract attention away from the content being shown on the screen. By contrast, a high-end, All-in-One LED display will have a thickness of 25 mm – 35 mm with a 5 mm frameless edge. This is substantially less thick than LCD video walls and positively influences ideal viewing distance and immersion. 

What does an All-in-One LED Display integrate

LED Video Wall Brightness, Resolution, and Color 

Even if LCD video walls are made of high-end screens, still their lack of brightness invariably results in poor visibility as soon as they’re viewed from a distance or under strong ambient light. This means that there are clear limitations when it comes to using an LCD video wall to display content.  

Prior to the emergence of Direct View LED video walls, these limitations may have been more acceptable to the average user, but that has started to change. The high-end LED displays provide higher brightness while also making it possible to adjust brightness levels on the device itself. This often may be essential for optimizing the specific settings of the video wall (as low brightness images won’t be clear even if you can adjust the display for the strong ambient light). 

Resolution-wise, most LCD displays come with 1080p but 4K UHD is available, which is the same as LED’s. However, the Direct View LED’s fine pixel pitch means that the LEDs are ultra-close to each other, so even when you’re closer to the display than usual, you’d still be able to clearly see the visuals. This can have an extra impact when showing vivid landscapes, detailed product images, design sketches or mechanical drawings in spaces of various sizes. The real-to-life color depiction is made possible thanks to the light being directly seen by human eyes without going through different materials which is the case for LCD. LED also delivers a wider color gamut, and the very best options on the market offer 120% coverage of the Rec.709 color space.   

ViewSonic All-in-One LED video walls address the challenges of the past with finesse thanks to the Direct View technology and, for the most advanced models, Chip on Board (COB) packaging. For example, the multi-award-winning All-in-One LED Display provides up to 4,440Hz ultra-fast refresh rates and 600-nit adjustable high brightness, offering an unparalleled viewing experience in any space.  

Shipping, Installation and Maintenance 

Another important thing to remember when comparing LED display vs LCD display is the difference in shipping, installation, and all-around maintenance of a video wall. This is one of the areas where all-in-one LED video walls really outperform LCD video walls in almost every way imaginable, resulting in a far better experience for end users and greatly reducing the amount of time and effort needed to set the video wall up. 

LCD large-format displays will have significantly higher shipping and installation costs. This is partly because an LCD video wall installation will require at least three people, often taking more than 4 hours. Furthermore, on top of free-standing models, LCD video walls can only be installed on a wall.  

By contrast, an All-in-One LED Display can be installed in around two hours, thanks to the all-in-one modular design. Individual modules will automatically configure and calibrate to their location relative to the rest during installation.  

One of the challenges associated with LCD video walls is the fact that each panel operates independently, so there is a realistic chance that one panel will wear out before the others. The core issue here is that if one panel wears out, the cost of tearing down the display to replace it and then deliver it will be high. Besides, the repair process takes around a month and during this time the LCD cannot be in use. After fixing, the display will need to be calibrated again. In the long term, this translates to high maintenance costs. 

This is not true for LED video walls, thanks to the modular approach. In such cases, you would need to replace the single LED module without removing the whole screen. Besides, the LED modules can be swapped out while the display is powered on and in continuous use. This means anyone can replace a defective piece for quick and easy maintenance. The industry term for it would be “full front maintenance with no downtime”. 

Each LCD display has different color and brightness, so calibration is needed upon installation. And each display will change over time (the degree of degradation of brightness and color performance also varies by each display), so users will take further time and effort to calibrate for maintenance. 

Direct View Led Video Wall Vs Lcd Video Wall - things to consider

Control System and All-in-One LED 

LCD video walls have traditionally required an additional control box and a variety of other accessories and components to provide a smooth display and an acceptable user experience. Until relatively recently, this has also been true for LED displays and resulted in an unsatisfactory user experience, more complex maintenance, and day-to-day management. Often, a specialist technician would be needed to even get a large format display up and running. 

Fortunately, the emergence of All-in-One Direct View LED displays has helped to change all of this. Such a comprehensive solution will combine everything the user needs in a single package. Imagine a control system, display system, and power supply that are all integrated together along with the image stitching technology. Crucially, such an approach results in a far superior and more user-friendly experience, with no need for specialist knowledge.  

As the cherry on top, the all-in-one LED display can be turned on with just one click and is easy to operate with remote control. Additionally — aside from wireless content sharing — the display’s I/O port provides easy connection options. 

These latest displays are compatible with AV control systems, including Crestron, Extron, and AMX, providing excellent control and automation options without complicated setup. These devices also offer many connectivity options for maximum levels of convenience.  

Final Thoughts 

While LCD video walls have historically been the most popular option, improvements to LED technology and thus its greater affordability ensured a clear frontrunner of any Direct View LED wall vs LCD video wall debate. A high-quality, Direct View LED video wall will be easier to install, manage, and operate on a day-to-day basis. There are affordability benefits as well, and modern all-in-one solutions deliver excellent user-friendliness from the get-go. 

A Direct View LED video wall, otherwise called LED display, will also offer a superior overall viewing experience, with improved brightness, color gamut, contrast, and all-around flexibility. Users will not need to worry about grid issues or irregular aspect ratios, and for these reasons, LED’s cutting-edge technology is widely regarded as the ultimate solution for large displays. 

If you’re in for more insights, feel free to learn more about What is an All-in-One LED Display or explore ViewSonic’s All-In-One Direct View LED Displays. 

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