LCD Video Walls: Commercial Displays vs Consumer TVs

A key decision to make in the deployment of an LCD video wall is what kind of display to use. While AV professionals shy away from use of consumer grade TV’s, it’s important for everyone to understand the pros and cons of all LCD options.

The Userful video-wall product is one of the few cost-effective options that supports using any display (or a mix of displays) to create a video wall which makes Userful a neutral voice in the discussion of which screen best suits a particular video wall.

Professional-grade digital signage displays—with higher-resolution, low or zero bezel—definitely provide a greater impact on audiences, with greater brightness, longer life and a better warranty, but they cost 3x to 5x more than a consumer TV.

In some situations the extra cost is warranted, but it’s a worthwhile question: when can we safely take advantage of consumer TVs for video walls and when is it worth paying the extra, upfront cost for commercial-grade displays?

Commercial LCD Video Wall displays are the better option when:

  1. It is deployed to a large number of locations where the onsite warranty offered will be a significant, logistical advantage.
  2. Very-thin to zero bezel is needed for seamless alignment and more streamlined look.
  3. Implementing artistic, or mosaic-style, video walls (see an example here) where the displays will have all sorts of orientations, and Consumer TVs are not designed for orientations other
  4. There are environmental challenges such as high heat/cold, grease, dust, vibration, or corrosion. Commercial-grade displays have hardware/enclosures designed for heavy-duty usage
  5. Located in unsupervised areas where advance features—such as disabling the IR remote control—is needed.
  6. Usage is critical and relies on long lifespan and a solid on-site warranty that covers extended running times—usually 16-24 hours a day.

TVs may be a cost-saving option when:

  1. The immediate environment is under daily supervision by your staff, to prevent tampering with it.
  2. It does not run 24/7 (e.g., it only runs during business hours).
  3. Regular-size bezels are an option for you—as opposed to the specialized ultra low-bezel or “zero bezel” displays.
  4. Your video wall size or enclosure won't create extra heat challenges (i.e. if your video wall recesses into a tight space with poor air circulation and/or it has many rows where the cumulative rising from displays below can significantly overheat the upper rows).
  5. You do not need RS-232 control—a feature not available in many consumer grade TVs.
  6. The cost savings are significant enough to justify potentially decreased lifespan, and the less “solid” warranty is not an issue
  7. The TV unit had advanced testing to ensure compatibility with mounting hardware, endpoint device, and video wall software.
  8. It is tied into a system that gives you centralized power-off controls, settings, bezel correction, etc.

Consumer TVs will never replace a higher-quality commercial-grade display in providing the high impact that audiences nowadays demand, and for video walls a professional display with ultra-low or zero bezel will definitely provide a better end result. A consumer TV and lower-grade display will make sense for digital signage, with stand-alone displays, where screen integration is not necessary.