Video walls: not just bigger and better and more varied

 

LG OLED Canyon at ISE 2018

 

If your task at ISE was to find a video wall technology to invest in, you would certainly have had your work cut out. Not only was there were the usual pixel pitch wars, that we have come to expect at every ISE, there were whole new technologies and a resurgence of one or two that we thought were under threat.

And perhaps the resurgence of LCD is a good place to start this ISE report on video walls. If this development hailed from an obscure Asian manufacturer we are not sure that it would merit anything more than passing interest, being dismissed as a backward step. But the fact is that it comes from Barco, the Grande Damme of the display world and the technology provoked a welter of interest when first shown in the closing weeks of 2017.

Barco’s bezel-less UniSee LCD video wall platform is said to be “game changing”, and “revolutionizing the video wall industry: Designed for control rooms, situation rooms, experience centres, large meeting rooms and lobby areas, UniSee offers an uninterrupted viewing experience and an innovative mounting system that is said to offer simplified installation and maintenance, while promising superb image uniformity across the canvas.

UniSee features the industry’s first 0.3 millimetre mechanical “air-gap” between tiles, offering a high-quality, uninterrupted viewing experience. The unique, modular platform delivers unmatched colour uniformity thanks to an automatic, continuous and real-time colour and brightness calibration system; high operational performance and impressive uptime with a redundant, remote power supply; innovative mounting system that simplifies installation and maintenance while solving typical problems associated with commissioning large LCD video walls.

New LED technology

While UniSee is a new incarnation of an existing technology, progress in LED was also on show at this year’s ISE. As it stood, LED was expected to be one of the great themes at this year’s show. We weren’t disappointed – there was hardly a stand without at least one LED wall. Manufacturers with no LEDs in their portfolios in the past, also showed solutions this year. It was apparent that the quality of image reproduction and mechanics has risen consistently.

Thanks to declining prices and ever smaller pixel pitches, will continue the advance of LED walls into interior spaces. For example, Samsung showed ‘The Wall Professional’ – a modular, large-format indoor MicroLED display that can extend to hundreds of inches in size while delivering outstanding brightness, contrast and viewing angles.

The Wall Professional’s modular design allows for customized configurations beyond or below its 146-inch size standard. Users can add or remove unlimited LED screens to and from The Wall Professional without impacting performance or presentation quality. The display’s self-emitting MicroLED pixel modules produce brilliant imagery free of colour filters or backlighting and envelop viewers through elevated peak brightness (up to 1,600nit), and a near infinite contrast ratio.

The Wall Professional builds upon its consumer counterpart with the integration of Samsung’s MagicInfo content management platform. Within MagicInfo, users can create, schedule and deploy content across a single Wall Professional display or Wall Professional display network from any location. The platform also provides complete display performance visibility for immediate error detection and troubleshooting.

Samsung’s new QM (450nit brightness) and QB Series (350nit brightness) Intelligent UHD displays foster a next-level content experience thanks to an integrated conversion engine that automatically upgrades FHD materials to sharper, clearer UHD quality. As a result, business users can achieve bolder and more brilliant message delivery without the need for manual picture presetting. The Intelligent UHD displays’ Optimal Color Mode also intuitively adjusts picture quality to match usage and visibility trends.

Also on view from Samsung was the fine pixel-pitch IF-D Series LED Signage. The IF-D Series displays align Samsung’s market-best video processing tools with HDR picture refinement to produce visuals that shine even against white or dark backgrounds. This combination elevates peak brightness levels (2,400nit) and initiates scene-by-scene gradation and optimization through Scene Adaptive HDR technology.

For additional eye-catching impact, businesses can configure the IF-D Series LED displays in a range of traditional and unconventional formats. The IF-D Series’ design flexibility includes curved compositions, with concave and convex implementations.

Technology enabler

Underpinning much of the technology advance at ISE this year was Chip-On-Board technology (COB), in which groups of LEDs are placed on individual boards. This makes the LEDs more resilient to touch. In addition, many manufacturers have simplified the mechanics of the LED modules. In these systems, the power supply and signal lines are also integrated, so additional patch cables can be dispensed with. Various manufacturers also offer wall mounts, so that users in principle receive complete packages.

In general, most manufacturers today also offer LED panels with front access. The individual LED modules can be taken out from the front of the cabinets, usually with a magnetic mechanism. This simplifies the component exchange considerably. But, in general, the quality and reliability of LED modules has improved measurably in recent years. So much so, especially for image processing and image display, the modules have reached a stand where real quality differences are difficult to detect.

COB technology will become a trend in the coming years. But, say our colleagues at technical consultants, “COB will only be a transition technology to the microLEDs”. These were already presented last year by Sony and this year also by Samsung. This means that pixel pitches of up 0.5 mm can be achieved. Coupled with declining prices, LED walls are interesting for indoor digital signage and conference room applications. The ultimate target of manufacturers is to use this technology for TV devices, in the consumer segment.

“In our opinion, however, it will take a few more quarters before the microLEDs can really be used for the mass market. You expect the real market introduction of your MicroLED solutions from Q3 2018,” said Martin Wagner of macon.

OLED shows its hand

Recent ISE events have progressively unveiled the story of LG and OLED, and this was something of a seminal year. It is no over statement to say that OLED products, will offer optimal vertical solutions adaptable to any business environment such as retail, public spaces and offices. Futuristic, versatile displays including Transparent OLED, Open Frame OLED, and OLED Video Wall with ultra-slim bezels have huge potential/

The centrepiece of LG’s ISE booth is its 55-inch Transparent OLED signage, a state-of-the-art product with thin bezels and elegant form factor. Coupled with transparent OLED displays this technology is especially impressive in retail environments, museums and art galleries where products can be placed behind video or special effects displayed on the Transparent OLED signage.

LG’s Open Frame OLED displays amazed visitors when configured in the breath-taking Canyon Attractor, comprised of 60 Open Frame OLED displays in concave and convex configurations. These digital screens proved ideal for illustrating OLED’s customisable form factor and superb picture quality. The shape and size of Open Frame OLED displays can be tailored for multiple uses in any industry, such as large-scale video installations and informational displays designed to fit the contours of any commercial space.

Also featured at ISE 2018 was the 0.6 mm-thin Even Bezel Video Wall which offers a virtually seamless and immersive viewing experience. Its ultra-narrow bezels minimize distractions, making this product suitable for advertising high-end products in fashion and beauty. LG also showcased a digital signage video wall capable of delivering high-bright 1,500 nits of brightness for exceptionally clear and bright images.

LG’s 86- and 88-inch Ultra Stretch displays are perfect for conveying directional information or inspection notices in multiple foreign languages with its stretched form. Advanced IPS Interactive Digital Boards (IDB) with UHD picture quality deliver business efficiency with powerful, collaborative tools. LG’s IDB have advanced touch-enabled interfaces with precise writing performance that allows for multiple users to write simultaneously and freely share ideas with intuitive touch technology for maximum productivity and convenience.

Value and quality iimprove

The new Christie® Velvet® CorePlus LED video walls deliver unparalleled design flexibility for a value-priced LED video wall solution. Ranging in pixel pitches from 1.2 to 4.0 millimetres, the single architecture scales easily to popular resolutions including 4K, is fully customizable with remote and on-board options, and can be both installed and serviced from either the front or back. Perfect for public spaces, casinos, theme parks, houses of worship, broadcast, control rooms, and conference rooms among many other applications, its direct mount system allows for a narrow installed depth of less than 100 millimetres. CorePlus includes a direct mount system, making for quick and easy installation directly onto flat walls  eliminating the need for an additional mounting structure and thereby further reducing total system cost. Moreover, with the new E600 Controller, end users can easily scale to 4K at 60Hz.

Also compatible with the E600 controller is the Apex 0.9mm LED video wall, a new member of the Christie® Velvet® Apex Series. Now available in ultra-fine pixel pitches from 0.9mm to 2.5mm and featuring a 16:9 aspect ratio, the Apex Series displays content in impeccable detail, making it the ideal choice for applications where image quality and clarity is paramount. The new offering allows for scaling to popular resolutions in a smaller square metre area as well as reducing optimum and minimum viewing distances. The Apex Series offers a proprietary solution of high quality components that work as a system to provide the highest visual experience, maximize display time, and ensure complete peace of mind, unmatched by other LED displays.

Merge or acquire?

One macro-trend that has become apparent in the AV industry is that of major display vendors repositioning as single source suppliers of every major flavour of display technology. For example, Optoma announced that it has added LED displays to its portfolio of products. At Integrated Systems Europe (ISE) 2018, Leyard and Planar announced they are expanding their Leyard DirectLight LED Video Wall product line to include the smallest fine pitch LED video wall display in the industry – a pitch of just 0.7 millimetres. The expanded line also includes a new 2.5-millimetre pixel pitch option.

But what happens when you want to advance into LED but it would take too long to bring a solution to market? You could be luck enough to find the right solution within the portfolio of a sister company; if not, you could just buy what you need. ISE saw examples of both strategies in action,

At ISE 2018, Vivitek, and Delta Display Solutions, a division of Delta Electronics, showcased a full selection of visual solutions including standard and large venue projectors, to wireless collaboration and digital signage solutions. Delta Displays’ contribution included the FE Series 1.26 mm Fine Pitch Indoor LED Wall Solution. Delta Displays offers pre-set configurations in different sizes based on the pixel size in FHD and UHD resolution, complete with frame and controller to simplify the selection for the end customer and help them achieve the result they are aiming for in their display needs.

NEC Display Solutions Europe, on the other hand, announced the acquisition of S[quadrat], a leading provider of LED solutions, as NEC expands its display technology portfolio to include complete LED systems for indoor (fine pitch) and outdoor solutions. The new acquisition will enable NEC to integrate and further develop its LED solutions and continue to develop its professional services and additional support capabilities. By providing a total package of full-service offerings along with its premium display technology NEC can offer end-to-end visualization services to its customers.

The market demand for large digital canvasses is rapidly growing across all major display technologies – LFD video walls, large venue/laser projection and LED walls, whereas now NEC becomes a single source for all product categories providing customers the ultimate choice to match their individual needs. There’s a clear growing demand from a range of industries for large-screen signage, advertisement and infotainment: transportation companies requiring bigger passenger information displays, retailers enhancing outdoor branding and advertising as well as in-store marketing, while other growth applications include control rooms, corporate conferencing environments and more.

Hisatsugu Nakatani, President, NEC Display Solutions, Ltd. said: “NEC is offering the broadest visual solutions portfolio in the industry and is seen as a trusted advisor and total solutions provider. The acquisition of the S[quadrat] business will enable NEC to bring even greater value and benefits to our customers and partners by extending the service offerings. S[quadrat] and NEC follow the same strategic direction, focusing on high customer satisfaction performed by high quality products, sales leadership excellence and intense customer relationship building .”

 

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