How Userful Works with LED panels
This year we exhibit in both DSE and Infocomm, and one thing we saw a lot of were LED panel manufacturers showcasing giant-sized video walls. Direct output LED panels offer a lot of advantages. Whereas traditional back-lit LCD panels offer higher resolutions, they don’t offer the same range of colors, brightness, and they require at least some kind of bezel. OLED and MicroLED technologies will address the issue of resolution with their high pixel-density, although there still some time until it becomes mainstream.
Nowadays LED walls are custom built to order. Installers spec the solution to the pixel size they need and manufacturers build to order. Of course, this is a costly approach but is pretty much the only one there is. I am sure pre-packaged panels are coming sooner than later.
Do I need a video wall controller (i.e Userful) if I’m using LED display walls?
I get asked this question all the time. If you are just playing a single source on a single LED wall (and you don’t have any particular security, centralization, or cloud management concerns) then you’re probably fine just using a stand-alone media player to output a single feed to the LED Wall controller.
Now, there are many cases in which your LED wall will greatly benefit from using a video wall controller—like Userful. Userful is a great tool for many LED deployments, even if the total resolution of your LED wall is less than 1080p resolution. Some of the factors where a video wall controller is highly beneficial for LED video walls include:
- Adapting to the odd display sizes commonly found with LED walls and panels: There is an enormous diversity in LED panels, some PCs are unable to adapt to this range of odd and unusual resolutions. The Userful software and zero-client receiver devices have been designed to flexibly support a broad range of unusual (and even odd) aspect ratios and display sizes. They can be set to output any custom resolution, provided the maximum resolution (in either direction) is less than 2048px, and the total pixel count (x*y) is less than 2.07M pixel.
x * y =< 2.07M px.
- Centralizing the player/server & environmental robustness For many LED deployments, the Userful server is configured just to output to a single zero-client receiver (which is attached connected via HDMI to the LED wall). Userful is great for outdoor use cases as you can keep your servers in a controlled environment indoors, and the receiver device (which has no fans/heat and draws minimal power and can even be power-over-Ethernet) can be attached to the outdoor display. By using standard Ethernet Userful gives almost unlimited distance between display and server without relying on flaky cable extension solutions.
- Advanced feature set and multi-window control Userful's advanced remote management, multi-windowing capabilities, API, scheduling, cloud content distribution, mirroring, and other features can be a valuable addition to LED deployments at a reasonable price in relation to the total project costs.
- Splitting & Tiling (for Higher resolution LED walls): Individual LED panels (each receiving a 1920x1080 or lower HDMI input) can be treated the same as individual conventional LCD panels in a video wall and can be tiled together by the Userful video wall controller with one receiver per HDMI input. This leverages Userful's 4K, 6K, or 8K output capabilities as well as Userful's artistic flexibility and control to create and drive large or unique video wall configurations.
Note: For smooth playback on LED video walls, we recommend purchasing server and networking hardware from Userful that is capable of handling 60FPS playback to ensure the highest possible framerates.
Will growth in LED walls will reduce the market demand for video wall controllers?
This is another question I get asked frequently. Already today, an external video wall controller is not necessary if you are using commercial-grade video wall displays in a grid configuration and only need to output a single source at limited resolution. Almost all these displays have a built-in tile-matrix daisy-chain splitter.
This is another question I get asked frequently. Already today, a external video wall controller is not necessary if you are using commercial-grade video wall displays in a grid configuration and only need to output a single source at limited resolution. Almost all these displays have a built in tile-matrix daisy-chain splitter.
If somebody wants to do something more advanced than a single source, they’ll still need a controller, no matter the display technology.
LEDs are coming down in cost, and offer better color and brightness so panel makers are expecting market share to shift to this new direct output technologies LED (direct output) vs LCD backlit displays.
However, today LED walls are built inefficiently mostly custom made to order based on the required pixel pitch. In the near future, we will see the major panel manufacturers start to introduce their direct output prefabricated panel solutions. These will be in a packaged format much like today's LCD backlit displays but will just use direct output technologies like OLED or QLED or LED. These will require a video wall controller for advanced use cases much the way LCD displays do today.
Ultimately, the advantage of having a video wall controller is that it gives much more flexibility and options of display content, which combined to the range of colors, brightness and seamless configuration of the video wall displays provide a more powerful video wall.
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