As the digital signage industry continues to advance, the technologies involved become increasingly complicated. As a value-added reseller (VAR), you’re in a position to help your customers understand the various aspects of a digital signage project—and to justify their expense.
In any video wall installation, the video wall processor is one of those lesser-known, but vital, devices. As opposed to LCD screens, processors work “behind the scenes” but still can run several thousands of dollars. So justifying the expense to your customers who are unfamiliar with the technology might be a bit tricky.
Here, we cover the basics of video walls processors so you can easily explain them to your customers:
What is a video wall processor?
In the world of digital signage, a video wall processor is a lot like a traffic cop: It makes sure every piece of content arrives exactly where it should be, at the right time on the right screen, in the correct resolution. Also called a video controller, a processor is the device that makes a single image appear and move seamlessly across the multiple screens of a video wall. Without it, a video wall would simply be a bank of digital screens, each showing something different.
Processors form a large, cohesive image, and then send pieces of it to individual screens for display. Although smaller, more simplistic video walls may only require a multi-monitor video card, as video walls continue to grow in size and capability, most are requiring processors.
What types of processors are available?
Video wall processors are now available in hardware-based and software-based versions. Hardware processors are built on an array of physical video processing chipsets, and they have been in use for years. The newer, software-based video wall processors run on a Windows- or Linux-based PC, using networking equipment to communicate with displays.
Each has their own set of advantages and a few shortcomings, depending on the project, so you may want to do some research before picking one over the other.
What are some of the most important features?
Many different manufacturers offer processors, so it’s important to hone in on a few key features in order to find the one that’s right for each customer. If the application is relatively basic, look for a device that offers simple set-up and easy operation and includes a remote control for quick day-to-day use.
Your larger customers might have access to a professional or a security network operations center, which means they can probably support more advanced feature sets on their video wall. Always look for the highest-quality image processing that is available for your customer’s budget. And be sure to verify that your video processor is capable of handling the type of content you intend to display. Be it MPEG, CAD or live video feeds, your video wall processor should be able to digest your content and scale it to your video wall.
Depending on the size of the video wall, it’s important to find a processor that can handle the current number of screens—and beyond. That way, if the project ever expands in size or capabilities, the processor can easily handle the additional tasks.
Finally, look for a processor with a web server interface, which will enable your customer to make use of online content sources, while also making firmware updates much easier.
What are some of the other aspects of a pro AV project that can be challenging to explain to your customers? In what areas do you experience the most concern over pricing: video wall processors or displays?