Guest Post: Mitch Leathers, SNA Displays
For pedestrians, auto traffic, event-goers and other consumers, nothing turns heads and captures attention quite like digital signage.
Dynamic and vivid LED displays prove superior at content delivery and message dissemination compared to traditional advertising tools such as printed posters, billboards and other types of static signage. But to get the most out of an LED display solution, it’s important to understand the technology as much as possible so it can be optimally deployed. One factor that should be given particular consideration is pixel pitch.
What is Pixel Pitch?
It’s an excellent question and one we all hear in the LED industry quite often. Pixel pitch, along with display size, relates directly to the image resolution of a display. LED displays are comprised of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) grouped into clusters, known as pixels. Pixels are the basic building block of any content, as they are the smallest addressable element in a raster image. With enough pixels in a given space an image can be created. The closer those pixels are to each other the more pixels the space will have, and therefore the higher the resolution of the image.
The distance between pixels is known as “pixel pitch.” To be more specific, pixel pitch is the distance between the center of a pixel and the center of an adjacent pixel. The lower the pitch, the closer together the pixels, and thus the more pixels throughout the display. The higher the pitch, the farther apart the pixels, and thus the lower the resolution of the display.
Typically, pixel pitch is measured in millimeters (mm), simply because LED display technology has improved such that pixels can be placed very close to each other on a display surface. For reference, there are approximately 25.4 millimeters in one inch.
Pixel Pitch & Interior Displays
Because of the vast technology improvements in both cost and quality, LED displays for interior applications have become more practical and affordable than ever before. As you can imagine, many indoor displays are positioned so that observers can view them in very close proximity. Lobby walls, mall advertising, conference rooms, hospitality centers, and restaurants are common examples. The closer viewers are to a display, the easier it is for them to see individual pixels, and therefore, the higher the resolution would need to be for the viewer to see a more clear, detailed image. For this reason, some display providers offer interior screens that can have extremely tight pixel pitches, even as low as 0.6 mm.
At SNA Displays, where I handle marketing and communications, we grouped our interior display product line into three categories based on pixel pitch: Standard Pitch (4 mm – 10 mm), Fine Pitch (2 mm to 3.9 mm), and Ultra-Fine Pitch (0.6 mm to 1.9 mm).
Pixel Pitch & Exterior Displays
Given the range of environments and conditions for exterior LED displays, there are many factors to consider. As with interior displays, pixel pitch is among the most important. For many billboards and building façades, viewers are typically long distances from the display, meaning pixel density may be of less importance. However, there are walk-up outdoor applications as well, where high resolution (tight pixel pitch) is paramount. Additionally, in busier environments where multiple displays are competing for attention (think Times Square or Las Vegas), a higher-quality, higher-resolution display is of much higher value.
And finally, when choosing the right pixel pitch for your display, there are functionality considerations as well. Suppose a display owner wants to take a simple messaging approach with only text and unsophisticated graphics. In this case, a higher pixel pitch (less pixels, lower resolution) might be sufficient. On the other hand, a retailer who has carefully crafted a high-end brand with premium products may want a tighter pixel pitch (more pixels, higher resolution), not because of viewing distance but rather for image quality and better functionality.
What’s Best for My Application?
As you might expect, this is a very loaded question. There are many factors you should consider before making an investment in an LED display. If you’re not an expert in this technology, it’s extremely important for you to find one—a manufacturer, a consultant, an experienced buyer—you trust to help guide you through the decision process.
As explained above, pixel pitch is a huge consideration for this process. It goes hand in hand with other factors such as display size, viewing distance, ambient light conditions, weather and moisture protection, competing media, messaging functionality, image quality and much, much more.
Properly deployed LED displays have the capacity to increase traffic, improve audience engagement, and enhance customer experience. But understanding how the technology will impact both the viewer and your bottom line prior to investment can empower you to make the best decision for your specific needs and budget.
We believe well-informed customers make better decisions for their display needs, leading to better experiences for all involved, and, ultimately, healthier long-term relationships.