What are Video Walls?
Video walls are arrays of high quality commercial or professional grade monitor screens placed together to create a larger screen.
Video walls can have many different sizes, applications, configurations and displays, including LCD, LED, blended projection screens, rear projection screens (DLP), mosaic-style tiles and direct view LED panels, just to name a few.
Thanks to the sheer variety of video wall options out there, it can be difficult or almost impossible to figure out where to start.
There are so many ways to plan and implement a video wall that it can be hard to talk about a single, standard traditional approach:
- Some video wall vendors add video cards to PC's which are then used to control video walls.
- Other video wall controllers are built on proprietary hardware with multiple built-in video outputs.
- Another approach to deploying video walls is to synchronize multiple players on the back of each display.
- Some displays have internal daisy chain capabilities that allow them to be turned into a video wall.
- Others video wall companies, such as Userful offer network based solutions, with a single PC supporting one or more video walls over the network. In Userful’s case, this simplifies deployments by relying on off-the-shelf hardware and the power of the network, which in turn also reduces costs.
There are pros and cons to every approach and evaluating the best one for a particular use case can be overwhelming so we wanted to share some quick points that will help you focus on what’s most important when choosing a video wall.
Thorough up front planning will help ensure your video wall delivers a strong ROI both in the short term and for many years to come.
Here are some tips to help make your choice easier.
Tip 1: Focus On Space and Ambiance
Impact on space and ambiance are two of the most important factors when planning your video wall. Before considering any solution, be aware of the environment where your video wall is going to be. Take careful note of:
- Location (indoor/outdoor)
- How much ambient light will there be
- Accessibility to the video wall (how easy is it to maintain?)
Physical dimensions, such as the size of the wall and room space and layout will determine the appropriate size and components of the chosen video wall solution.
Ideally, you would want a solution that allows for video walls in various layouts.
Tip 2: How Will Customers Interact With Your Video Wall?
Knowing what kind of business use the video wall will have, and how your customer would want to impact the end-user, can provide great insight into what video wall solution and components to acquire, that would fit and satisfy their needs, without blowing up the budget.
Customer interaction is what really drives your ROI.
Tip 3: What Kind of Video Wall Content? 3D? Interactive?
The possibilities are endless:
- Still images
- Low-res / High-res videos, even 4k content
- HTML5 applications
- 3D graphics
Which of these will be showing on your video wall?
Once you know what kind of content you will have, then you need to consider how will it be delivered to the screens. And keep in mind you want to maximize flexibility to ensure that your video wall can grow as you grow. Choose a solution with flexibility.
Remember: You Can Do Almost Anything You Can Imagine With Video Walls
Nowadays there is a wide variety of solutions that deliver content in very different ways, you no longer need a highly specialized and expensive hardware solution to get high quality content on your video wall.
Tip 4: Pay Attention to Size, Layout, Shape and Aspect Ratio
Physical space and location plays an important role in determining the layout and size of a video wall. Designers must consider a very important aspect before deciding the layout the video wall: the aspect ratio of the content.
For example, even if physical space permits, a certain video wall layout might have a distorted view of the content if it’s not configured in its original aspect ratio.
Tip 5: Don't Overlook the Nuts and Bolts of Configuring Your Video Wall
Often overlooked, video walls require a variety of components—including displays, media players, cabling and display mounts--that all need to be properly installed.
If there are problems with configuring these, a video wall can actually generate a negative impact on the end-users, defeating the purpose of it, and ultimately affecting the business. Video wall calibration can be a laborious process, so you would want a solution that simplifies the configuration and calibration of your video wall and help you save both time and money.
As well, any solution that minimizes the expense and risk of misconfiguration will always be the smarter choice.
Ideally, you would want a solution that doesn’t require highly-trained personnel or specialized skills to perform these task, one that is simple enough for the end-user to configure and maintain.
Tip 6: Plan to Upgrade
Growth is a key objective in any business. What happens with your video wall solution when there is a need to expand its size, or perhaps upgrade it to accommodate the latest content resolution or format?
When choosing a video wall solution, taking into account future adaptability can definitely save you some headaches and money.
Highly integrated solutions or solutions that need specialized components might prove inflexible, even perhaps needing to replace the entire system upon refresh.
Modular, software-based solutions such as Userful that leverage standard hardware and the network could easily accommodate future upgrades by replacing just a single component and keeping the rest of the video wall intact.
Tip 7. Don't Forget TCO
Ultimately, Total Cost of Ownership (TCO) should play a big part in a video wall solution is chosen. The end goal is to use the video wall to increase engagement, increase revenues and increase profits.
Since the revenue derived directly from the video wall is hard to estimate, rather than spending a lot of money on a video wall solution and hoping for the best, a good start would be to minimize the expenses on the video wall—without sacrificing its ability to fit your needs, of course.
A thorough TCO study can provide great insight on which solution to choose.