If you are having a discussion and someone says “Digital signage,” what comes to mind? LCD displays? Digital content? Or just anything on a LCD display in a public space?
There are many ways of looking at digital signage as it has become the ubiquitous term for “stuff” dealing with this new signage medium. There are a number of components to digital signage and they include media players, LCD displays, enclosures systems and integration of all the part, and, yes, last, but certainly not least, display content.
Though all of the components to digital signage are very important, the hardware pieces to the DS puzzle are essential and often overlooked. Hardware for digital signage solutions comes in many shapes and sizes but when properly selected, the pieces working in harmony provide a common denominator; a message that reaches the specific audience intended. The challenge can be how to better market to the target audience, how to keep workers better informed of company matters, or keep commuters abreast of when the next train will arrive at the station. The maze of hardware choices can be overwhelming but the following options will serve as a guide to making informed decisions.
Keeping up with displays
LCD displays always seem to attract the most attention in digital signage projects — and with good reason. Without a quality display broadcasting the message one might as well throw in the towel.
Display technology changes at a dizzying, continuous pace.
In today’s market, one has to consider TFT vs. IPS display substrate, CCFL vs. LED backlighting, high-bright vs. standard brightness and a host of other options. The old adage “size doesn’t matter,” doesn’t apply to the choice of LCD displays for a signage project. Size will be a key concern when getting a message noticed.
For instance, if to the goal is to display a number of rotating marketing messages then one can probably downsize the LCD display (32, 42, or 46 inch) as the message will take the majority, if not the entire screen. On the other hand, if the message is flight information, train schedules, or real time arrival information, a larger (52, 55, or 60 inch) display is required as this type of information tends to be smaller on screen and in greater volume.
Another consideration is the distance at which the viewer will be in relation to the display. A substantial amount of information can be found on the Internet regarding the human ergonomics of signage placement. As transit professionals, this is likely something we have all dealt with in the past.
Once the display size has been chosen, specific display technology will become the concern.
Display backlighting and/or the light source that drives LCD display is at issue. Cold Cathode Fluorescent Lighting (CCFL) is slowly disappearing from the LCD market in favor of LED lighting as a backlight source for displays.
LEDs operate at lower power and are cooler running vs. CCFL as well as provide greater flexibility with regard to how it works in relation to the LCD substrate. LED backlighting also has a longer life span and will stay brighter longer than CCFL backlights. LED backlighting allows for a leaner display package producing displays as thin as 1–2 inches deep. Simply put, LED backlighting is the best choice today.
Another consideration when choosing displays is location of the installation. Most indoor applications require little more than a standard commercial grade LCD display. There are times when the installation may be in an area with high ambient light or out of doors. When faced with this challenge, the use of high-bright displays and quite often an enclosure system is a must. Though these displays are more expensive than standard commercial grade displays, they do an outstanding job of lighting your message appropriately in less than ideal lighting conditions. High-bright displays are three to four times brighter than a standard LCD displays and can be viewed in a direct sun light environment.