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How Userful Works with LED panels
Although a traditional back-lit LCD video wall still offers the best value for highest resolution, direct output LED panels are dropping quickly in cost and offer higher brighness, true zero-bezel and typically a longer lifespan and wider range of colors. As higher resolution direct-output technologies such as OLED and MicroLED come to market the resolution and pixel-density will be less of an issue, although there still some time until it becomes mainstream.
For anyone requiring true zero bezel or ultra-high brigtness, LED is the way to go. Nowadays LED walls are custom built to order. Installers spec the solution to the pixel size they need and manufacturers build to order. The question we get asked most often is:
When do I need a video wall controller (e.g., Userful) if I’m using LED display walls?
If all you want to do is output a single source to a single LED wall that is less than 1080p resolution (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 1080p HDMI feed to the LED Wall controller.
However, most projects want to do something different, so often a video wall controller is required or will benefit greatly from adding in a video wall controller—like Userful—even if the total resolution of your LED wall is less than 1080p resolution. Here are a few examples:
- Adapting to the odd aspect ratios and display sizes commonly found with LED walls and panels: There is an enormous diversity in LED panels, some PCs and media players are unable to adapt to this range of odd and unusual display 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 smoothest playback on LED video walls, we recommend sizing your server and networking hardware from Userful to be 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, almost all ultra-narrow bezel video-wall class LCD displays have a built-in tile-matrix daisy-chain splitter so if you just want to scale a single source over a grid layout at low resolution, it is effectively the same situation as wtih an LED wall and you can get by with just a media player. Of course most people want to have unlimited resolution and multiple sources and more flexibility. So either way 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.
Talk to a Userful Specialist.
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