One of the technologies I want to have a good, long look at next week at the big ISE trade show in Amsterdam is indoor LED – which in the past year has gone from something of a fringe, wildly-expensive product to a mainstream display option marketed by numerous traditional display manufacturers.
It was only two or three years ago when these fine pixel pitch displays started showing up at major trade shows like NAB and InfoComm in North America – invariably in booths operated by vendors only LED nerds would know. They were beautiful, but the cost I was hearing for them was something like $25,000 a square meter.
Now, at ISE, there will be many, many companies showing indoor product, including Barco, NEC (through a German partner) and Christie. They will all have announcements around the show, I’m sure, and one today from Christie touts how it has added to its Velvet indoor LED series, with new 1.2mm and 1.6mm pixel pitch tiles.
If that doesn’t mean much to you, pixel pitch is the distance between the LEDs, and tiles with gaps that minimal look really good, really close – whereas traditional indoor and certainly outdoor LED set-ups look like hell until a viewer steps well back.
Christie is touting these Apex Series LED tiles as being “designed for 24/7 critical viewing applications including command and control rooms, and high security surveillance monitoring. Apex Series’ high impact visuals are also suitable for corporate lobbies, museums, large-scale experiences, as well as indoor advertising and high-end retail applications.”
Like more and more LED modules these days, they electronics have been engineered to remove most of the depth that made these things more like stackable microwaves. Now they’re skinny front-to-back. The units are also, like more and more these days, front-serviceable. Interestingly, instead of squares or 4:3 rectangles, these tiles are the same 16 x 9 aspect ratio as LCD displays.
They start shipping in April.
I assume these will be shown at the Christie booth, and expect there will be many more, including some Chinese manufacturers like Leyard (which now owns Planar) and Absen.
Dave Haynes is the founder and editor of Sixteen:Nine, an online publication that has followed the digital signage industry for some 14 years. Dave does strategic advisory consulting work for many end-users and vendors, and also writes for many of them. He’s based near Halifax, Nova Scotia, on Canada’s east coast.