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How to Choose the Right Digital Menu Boards for Your Customers

January 18, 2017

Today’s restaurant industry is one of the verticals in which you can most readily see the effects of digital signage. In establishments of all sizes, digital menu boards are making a big impact on customers, while also helping business owners and their employees streamline their daily operations.

As IHS Research found, digital menu boards are growing particularly fast in quick-serve restaurants (QSRs) and helping automate ordering and inventory control, improve upselling opportunities and advertising, and reduce customers’ perceived wait time. But not all digital menu boards are the same. As you help your customers upgrade their restaurants for the digital age, keep these five factors in mind in order to guide your technology choices:

1. LED or LCD

Although LCDs are sometimes less expensive than LEDs, the latter is usually the best choice for digital menu boards. That’s because LEDs consume less power and generate less heat, which makes them more suitable for long-term operation in a restaurant environment. In addition, most LED screens are now thinner and lighter, which gives you more flexibility in installation, which is a must-have in the QSR environment.

2. Screen size

When selecting the size of a digital menu board, consider the viewing distance, the number of menu items that will need to be displayed, and the wall space you have to work with. Keep in mind that many customers will view the screen while standing in line behind several people. You want the text to be easily readable—not just for people at the counter but also for those several feet behind it.

3. Resolution

Today, 1080p displays are your best bet for digital menu boards, because they provide crisp, highly readable text and HD graphics. Although 720p may be tempting for some environments, you will certainly lose some of the clarity, making the menu board less readable for certain viewers. And while 4K screens are available for digital signage applications, currently their higher price doesn’t make sense for a restaurant environment, so it’s best to stick to 1080p.

4. Refresh rate

Because digital menu boards have fairly static content, you can opt for a standard refresh rate of 60Hz, even if the display will include some video. This will ensure that any motion will appear crisp, without costing your customer unnecessary investment.

5. Special considerations

As digital menu boards become increasingly popular, some restaurants are looking for displays that are well-suited to special installations. This might include larger-scale screens or those with unique shapes. In certain QSRs, outdoor menu boards are becoming common, so you’ll need to find display technology that can live up to the area’s specific environment.

For outdoor screens, keep the following factors in mind:

  • Weatherproofing: Opt for a screen that is specially designed for outdoor operation or find a weatherproof housing for a traditional display.
  • Glare: Although matte screens are easier to read outside, blurriness becomes a factor. Today, most VARs opt for a glossy screen with a matte overlay, which makes glare a non-issue.
  • Brightness: Standard screens won’t be readable in sunlight, so seek outdoor displays that provide additional brightness.

What are some of your favorite digital menu board technologies to recommend to customers? What features of these displays do you like best?