LCD video walls are huge today, both in popularity and the results they produce as an effective, go-to pro AV marketing tool. So it's no surprise that worldwide demand for LCD displays is expected to increase 7.3% and 7.8% in 2015 and 2016, respectively.
For value-added resellers (VARs), most customer demand will likely come from small to medium businesses looking for cost-effective, turnkey video wall packages. The good news is, the current offering of feature-rich LCD video walls makes it a lot easier for VARs to recommend displays that are even more application-specific than ever before.
Here are a few key features to look for when buying LCD video walls:
1. Front-panel access
While it may seem like a minor feature at first glance, having front-panel access is a very big deal when video walls are part of a permanent or semi-permanent installation. Not only does front-panel access reduce the time it takes to perform maintenance, it also saves a lot of space since the video wall can be set up in tighter locations.
2. Touchscreen interactivity
As marketers find increasingly creative solutions using touchscreen technology, VARs will likely find this to be one of the most sought-after features that customers want, especially in the retail and hospitality verticals. For the time being, touchscreen-enabled LCD display panels typically cost more than those without the feature. And costs can quickly add up when display panels with this technology are part of a video wall solution. But look for costs to come down as touchscreen LCD displays become more popular and manufacturers make more of them available for sale.
3. Video wall bundles
Depending on the size and intended application, a bundled video wall product may be more cost- effective than buying the components à la carte. Most manufacturers provide an out-of-the-box video wall bundle that will ship with display monitors, cabling, mounts, and remotes and will include some sort of on-site repair warranty. The on-site warranty is a great thing to have when one display in a 3x3 video wall goes down, because it saves the time of dismantling the entire installation and putting it back together again.
4. Tiny bezels
Bezels are the plastic frames around the outside of an LCD video display panel. The size (or lack thereof) has been a hot-button topic in the video wall industry of late. The reason is, a less visible border around a display equals more attention paid to content. Currently, a 3mm bezel is considered ultra-narrow and desirable. As with touchscreen technology, look for manufacturers to begin routinely rolling out displays with bezels under 3mm at lower costs.
At times, VARs will be asked to provide LCD video walls for outdoor applications. While many video displays can function in outdoor environments, it's generally not recommended. In this case, look for video wall displays that are certified "rugged"?meaning they are designed to operate in areas with extreme temperatures and humidity levels. In addition, these displays are built with hardened exterior cases and feature some sort of dust and scratch resistance.
6. HD resolution or better
LCD displays with higher resolution mean viewers see crisper content. As interactive video walls become more common, HD resolution (1080p) will be a common request from customers. 4K and UHD displays are currently available touting 3840x2160 resolution. However, as of yet, content to drive these displays lags far behind. Still, customers may request them for special applications.
7. Lightweight and energy-efficient
Energy-efficient electronics are an environmental sustainability concern for some pro AV customers but a necessity when it comes to a video wall installation. Look for LCD displays with cooling fans rated for continuous use and ENERGY STAR 5.0 certification.
LCD video walls have come a long way from the boxy, difficult-to-set-up behemoths of yesteryear, and they are still rapidly evolving as market forces demand. As new innovations in video display technology come online, VARs will have greater flexibility in providing customers with feature-rich displays capable of delivering stunning content for a wide range of verticals.