Common Questions about the Userful Video Wall Controller
What is a video wall controller?A video wall controller takes the content from an input source, splits it into different sections, and sends each section to its corresponding screen on the video wall. They also have management interfaces for easier administration and configuration of video walls. For example, the Userful video wall solution includes an intuitive browser-based management console that allows users to perform more advanced tasks, such as bezel correction, display pixel-alignment, and color calibration, as well as providing a platform to design unique artistic, mosaic-style, video walls.
Is there a difference between a video wall controller and a video wall processor?
Yes. In the traditional sense, a video wall processor refers to the device (typically a PC/Server) that supports the various inputs and outputs, as well as content processing power (such as video scaling). Video wall controllers, on the other hand, provide a management interface for video walls. Nowadays, there are many solutions that integrate both the processor and the controller in the same device, that is why the two terms are sometimes used interchangeably.
What advantages do video wall controllers have over tile matrix switcher/scalers, or LED /LCD video walls?LED / LCD video walls are usually are limited to single input sources. Matrix switchers can take more than one input, but provide little flexibility in terms of distributing the content to the video walls. They usually don’t support more than 4k resolutions (some just support 1080p), and matrix switchers need to be close to the video walls, unless extenders are used.
Video wall controllers on the other hand can scale (in the case of Userful) up to 8k source content, and for Userful in particular, since it delivers content via the network, the controller can be physically removed from the displays, with no need for extenders. Video wall controllers, like Userful, also provide greater flexibility and more advance features, in terms of distributing the content throughout the video wall, including:
- Support for source resolutions up to 8k for higher quality video walls.
- Artistic, mosaic-style video wall support to create unlimited layout possibilites.
- Support for multiple source content simultaneously, and flexibility to place multiple content within zones, or windows, on a video wall.
- Control for seamless content switching.
- Support for signage replication, where the same content shows at the exact same time across both video walls and individual displays.
What components, besides a video wall controller, do I need to deploy a video wall?That would depend on the solution. Some traditional solutions require that you buy video wall processor, an external PC/server (for the management interface), a matrix switcher, a matrix scaler (one for each display) and displays; as well as additional cabling and accessories. There are also LED / LCD display based video walls that integrate the matrix scaler.
Userful’s solution, on the other hand, centralizes the video wall controller, processor, switcher and scaler within a standard PC. Instead of scalers on each display, Userful uses long-lasting zero client devices (with no processing power or movable parts), as well as the existing network infrastructure, simplifying the entire system altogether, without sacrificing content quality.
Are LCD / LED display video walls also video wall controllers?No, There are some display-based video wall solutions that use internal scalers and also include video wall controller capabilities, but they require an external connected PC to manage the controlling features. They aren’t as flexible as other approaches to a video wall controller such as Userful’s—they support only one content source, and you would need to alter their physical connections in order to support multiple content sources.
I am a system integrator, and my customers applications vary from control rooms, to retail, to sports and entertainment venues, etc; Is a video wall controller solution capable of addressing any of these use cases?In short, yes, a video wall controller will give you the power, control and flexibility to support a wide range of applications, basically a one-solution-fits-all!
For example, Userful’s video wall allows you to accommodate many use cases, such as control and command centers, sports and entertainment venues, retail environments, and more, into a single solution. It supports different types of content sources (i.e. live TV, HTML5, network stream, live feeds from cameras, etc.) simultaneously on the displays via preset zones, made up of one or many displays. Also supports synchronized content across all displays (both video walls and independent screens), and allow users to easily switch content from a connected handheld device. Also, being a network-delivered video wall solution provide the flexibility to spread video walls and digital signage throughout a room or building (a very useful feature in a retail environment, as well as in sports, and entertainment venues)
If I need more than one video wall, can I do it with a single video wall controller?Yes. For example, Userful’s software leverages a standard PC to allow you to implement a mix of independent digital signage displays and multiple video walls from a single video controller. By delivering the content via Ethernet, the displays can be strategically located across an entire location within the local network, and its advance features allows you to manage the content dynamically, from multi-zone video walls to mirrored content across all video walls and displays, all within the same browser-based configuration console.
If I want to show multiple content at the same time on my video wall, can I do that with a video wall controller?Yes. Video wall controllers offer the flexibility and advanced features to do this, with some solutions offering more than others . Userful, for example, allows multiple simultaneous content sources to be shown on the video wall in different sections, or preset zones made up of one or many displays. They may also integrates a variety of Content Management Systems (CMS) that provide a configuration and scheduling platform, where the user can design the layout to be shown, with different content sources on display.
And what about if I want to show the same thing on all my displays?Screen mirroring, or signage replication—where you can show exactly the same content at exactly the same time on video walls or digital signage displays—is a common feature among video wall controllers. Userful takes this feature a step further by allowing to mirror content in any mix of independent digital signage displays and video walls.
If I want to change what is showing on my video wall, how can I do it with a video wall controller?Usually, video wall controllers require an external control PC to access the management tools and switch the video wall content, this works well if you don’t need your video wall experience to be very dynamic. Also, you can use CMS and scheduling applications, where you predetermine the content flow and it will automatically switch it for you.
Userful’s solution gives the user the flexibility and control to seamlessly switch content from any connected device (i.e. smartphones, or tablets) with the touch of a button, remotely manage video walls and change content remotely from any browser, with easy drag’n’drop capabilities for quicker, more intuitive content mapping; as well as providing CMS integration to allow content scheduling and customized layouts on the video walls.
Once I have my video wall controller, what can I do with it?That would depend on the solution, as each has their strengths and limitations. Userful, for example, provides a platform for a wide range of applications, and its management interfaces empowers you as a user. Some of the things you can do are:
- Create both traditional, landscape or portrait, grid-video walls, and design creative, state-of-the-art, mosaic-style video wall for museums, hotel lobbies, retail stores, or even entertainment venues (Click here to learn more).
- Deploy a video wall at a command center with multiple simultaneous source content—Live camera feed, interactive HTML5 web content, full screen desktop environment, etc. (Click here our control center case study)
- Have it at a sports bar, where you can have many individual signage displays, as well as many video walls. A solution as flexible as Userful, let’s you have the same exact content in synch (i.e. a game or TV show) on some displays, and then have other content simultaneously on other displays, with the ability to switch and manage what’s shown from a web browser.
If video wall controllers are better, why aren’t all video wall solutions running on video wall controllers?Traditionally video wall controllers used to be way more expensive, and they usually required proprietary hardware and software, which were complex to setup and maintain. However, there are now video wall controllers such as Userful that have eliminated all of these traditional problems. Userful leverages the power of a PC and existing network infrastructure to significantly reduce the costs, simplify the setup and maintenance, and improve the scalability of a video wall system, while still delivering high-quality (up to 8k resolution), professional video walls.
There is a good article by Userful’s CTO, Tim Griffin, where he provides some insight on when do you need a video wall controller for your project. You can find it here.
If you want to learn more about the Userful video wall, make sure to visit userful.com/videowall, and sign up for more great resources. If you are interested in trying out the solution, give us a call at +1 (403) 289-2177, or send us an email to firstname.lastname@example.org and we’ll be happy to assist you.