Samsung’s Display Roadmap Adds More LED, More UHD, Ends Small And Square Screens
October 5, 2017 by Dave Haynes
Marco Nalli of Samsung invited a bunch of people in architectural/design/consulting up to the company’s Canadian head office in suburban Toronto on Wednesday for a bit of a lunch and learn, to talk about current digital signage product and the North America product roadmap.
I made a rare trip away from the live bait shop/office to see the company’s new digs and showroom – which I’m certain has a fancier name – and get the lowdown on a few things.
The centerpiece of the place is a very large 1.5mm direct view LED wall at the front of the room. I forget the exact dimensions but it was 50 LED display modules and about $300,000 if you can talk your spouse into getting one for the media room at home.
The visit helped clear my fog a bit on how Samsung is handling LED. The company bought YESCO in 2015, and rebranded the company as Prismview. That company markets outdoor AND indoor (didn’t know that) LED displays, but stops at 3mm, in terms of how fine the LED pitch gets (they start at 25mm). The big fella I was looking at in Mississauga this afternoon is made, I was told, in Suwon BY Samsung – my evidently incorrect assumption being Samsung had a contract manufacturer in Shenzhen, or was re-branding someone else’s product as their own (as some other big display names do or have done in the past).
The fine-pitch LEDs come in 1.5, 2 and 2.5mm, and 4 and 6mm are coming before the new year (which, oddly, would seem to compete with Prismview’s).
Other things I learned:
- Samsung has a high-bright outdoor display aimed at drive thrus and the digital OOH street furniture market that they can ship ready to go – ruggedized, player integrated and fitted in a weather-ready enclosure the company gets built near Toronto;
- QLEDs are OMG beautiful. I’ve seen them at trade shows but it is different when you are not surrounded by 1,000s of other screens on an exhibit floor, when everything kinda looks the same after a while. QLEDS are really LCDs, but with a filter for the LED backlight that does a number – in a great way – on the range and depth of color, pixel by pixel. They are very different than OLED in terms of tech, but compete when it comes to visual awesomeness;
- Magicinfo, the CMS software has been quietly offering and peddling for more than a decade (much to the chagrin, at times, of software partners) is no longer free. You pay a license fee per unit, one time. There is an exception for the Lite version, which is still free but intended for dead-simple signs not on a network. The end of free may not be totally new, but it was to me;
- The cost of giant ultra HD (4K) commercial displays is coming down to a point that some smaller LCD wall clusters no longer make fiscal sense. Nalli showed a 98-inch UHD panel next to a 2×2 wall with 55-inchers that netted out being 12 inches wider on the diagonal, but had the up and down seams in the middle. Both are around$20-$23,000 for a distributor, and if a client is spending that kind of money, they’re likely to opt for no seams and one mount instead of four;
- HD panels are starting to get “end of lifed” as Samsung is putting the product focus on UHD. Integrators familiar with the D and E series should be aware they’re going away soon;
- The small Smart Signage panels – the 10-inch and 21.5-inch – are getting end-of-lifed as well, this quarter. Simple story is they weren’t selling. I always though they’d be great as meeting room signs, but needed those color bars that light up to show if rooms are free (green) or booked (red);
- The 22-inch square LCD that Samsung introduced a few years ago is also done. Liked those, but Samsung admits the marketing job on them wasn’t stellar;
- I heard a really interesting use case for those mirror displays – hair salons. Using them in places where people will put their paws and leave fingerprints is a problem in retail and hotel environments, but in hair salons they are out of reach and women are looking at those mirrors for loooooong spells. If you could keep the mirror effect going but market hair products and services on the edges, that could really work for salon managers who like high margin upsells;
- Finally, Samsung has a new product coming up this quarter that isn’t signage, but interesting – a digital version of a flip chart. A lot like a digital whiteboard, but set up more for office huddle spaces and on rollers for portability, the thing will allow for brainstorming and note-keeping, without people having to wallpaper a room with sheets of paper scrawled with markers.
My conclusion – I need to get out more and get these tours and updates more often, from a variety of display vendors. Two hours well spent.