Your browser is out-of-date!

Update your browser to view this website correctly. Update my browser now


LCD, LED & RPC: Which technology is right for your business?

Piet Vanhuyse, segment marketing director of large video wall experience at Barco, discusses screen decisions

If you’re a business looking for ways to impress customers and guests as they step in your lobby or are considering a video wall to elevate your business proposition, you most likely have been swamped with information about the various options available on the market today.

There are three dominant technologies in the visual display game: LCD, rear-projection cubes (RPC), and direct view LED. Each of these individual technologies has their own strengths and use-cases, and it’s important that potential customers match their needs to the technology. Vendors offering the full suite of solutions can cater for each customers’ individual needs, and as an industry we need to begin our thought process with the customer. Below, you can find the main pros and cons for all three technologies, and how the technologies are improving and developing.

An LCD video wall is a large visualisation surface that is built from multiple LCD displays, which are also known as ‘tiles’. These highly differ from normal television sets (where you probably have heard of LCD the most!) as they’re designed specifically for use in enterprise applications. The main differences are the bezel width, the mounting system, and reliability. Whilst the usual television set has been designed to play only a few hours a day, you can rely on LCD panels to be on for up to 24/7.

LCD is the most budget-friendly of the technologies, and while not entry-level, it is a great pick for somewhere like a workplace lobby, where you need sharp picture quality and a scalable solution. When it comes to this technology, we’ll see the main fulcrum of innovation come from the rivalry between LCD and OLED consumer technology that will in turn come to the industrial sphere.

Rear-projection cubes are mostly confined to control rooms, and while the passing of this solution was prophesied about five years ago, we can expect resilience and longevity. The primary reason for this is the technology’s robustness. In situations where companies need to constantly monitor their network, a solution that has a very long lifetime and an absence of burn-in effects is perfect for 24/7 monitoring in mission-critical scenarios.

RPCs are also a very sustainable choice. When needed, the projection engine can be upgraded to new technology – such as RGB laser – without touching the mechanics and the screens. This is not only a more economic option than a completely new installation, but also takes a lot less time and produces only a fraction of the waste.

Last but certainly not least, LED is often perceived as the rising star in the visual display world and is the primary choice for creative processes when a seamless canvas is required and where the image needs to make an impact. While it is the most expensive technology, its crisp colour reproduction and uniformity across viewing angles makes it the de facto choice in places like broadcast environments.

In terms of where video wall technology is going, LED is where the major innovations are coming from. Certain pain points throughout the customer journey are still to be resolved, with the inherent fragility of the technology, as well as replacement batch compatibility, high up on the innovation agenda. A continued evolution towards finer pixel pitches, thereby reducing optimal viewing distance and increasing resolution, can also be expected.

One of the key challenges in this market is articulating value and helping the end user make the right choice in a crowded field. It’s not enough to just talk about the brightness or the pixel pitch of a video wall – the investment being made by the customer is too high for that, and often the investment is cyclical as the lifespan of a video wall comes to an end.

The key is to consider strategic aspects like longevity, maintenance, consistency of performance etc beyond the instant gratification of stunning images and shiny tiles. We as an industry need to be able to understand consumers’ requirements and guide them to a choice informed by their own needs, not just buzzwords. That’s the area where we’ll see real partnership.