In an interesting and, I’d argue, puzzling move, Christie has re-launched its much-celebrated MicroTiles display series with technology that has very little shared DNA with the original, stackable projection cubes.
The new MicroTiles are LED modules that are, in just about every respect, similar to the scores of other fine-pitch LED products out there.
“Christie has been very successful with the MicroTiles brand – end customers and our integrators love it because it makes for an easy creative solution. With that in mind, Christie took everything great about MicroTiles and brought it to narrow pixel pitch LED,” reasons Ted Romanowitz, senior product manager, Christie, in a company press release.
The company is launching what are touted as smaller, brighter, more powerful, and more flexible MicroTiles this week at ISE in Amsterdam.
Delivering P3 color space, fully compliant HDR-10 and patented software that keeps the wall calibrated at 97 percent or greater uniformity, Christie MicroTiles LED are suitable for broadcast sets, corporation venues, museums, retail, stadiums, arenas, and higher education. It includes a low profile ADA-compliant QuickMount™ system so displays can be created in any shape and size, including 90-degree inside/outside corners and both concave and convex curves.
“In developing MicroTiles LED, Christie wanted to do something few, if any, have done – and we did. It puts Christie in a space where few can compete,” continues Romanowitz. “The visuals are a lot more stunning on MicroTiles LED – and all in a cabinet-free tile with a depth the size of a tablet computer. There is no better technology than narrow pixel pitch LED because it’s about delivering amazing optical performance and stunning visuals that are jaw-dropping.”
The MicroTiles have a proprietary QuickMount system that “eliminates alignment challenges typically associated with installing LED by using precisely-machined mounting sheets and wall anchors that can be easily installed onto nearly any surface. Once the laser cut sheet is mounted, the small size and light weight of the cabinet-free tiles reduces installation complexity while saving space and increasing flexibility. A single PoE Cat6 Ethernet cable is all that is required to connect each module to the entire display for a clean and simple cabling solution, dramatically reducing points of failure of typical LED cabinet design. With the click-n-go magnetic tiles, populating the display with LED tiles is incredibly fast.”
“It takes approximately half the time to build a MicroTiles LED wall of any size compared to a typical, same-sized LED wall,” says Romanowitz. “Each tile and module is very small and light weight so once mount planarity is established, then you simply install the tiles and module boards magnetically with minimal adjustment. Thanks to proprietary factory calibration, you can put any module board anywhere on the wall; they are completely interchangeable, which makes it so easy. Each tile has sensors so it’s frequently analyzing and adjusting itself to optimize both brightness and color performance.”
The one I saw on the ISE floor today (stands were doing set-up) was, I guessed, a 1.2mm. I am told there there 1.25 (so I was close!) and 1.5mm pitch versions, with more to come. The first units ship by springtime.
I have to yield to the LED display nerds out there, who can tell me if what Christie has is truly new and different, or variations on what’s already out in the market in various forms. I do like the slim profile and ability to do curves, but that’s been done. Same with magnets and front serviceability. Also done.
The stuff may be amazing (what I saw certainly looked nice), but this is very different from 2009 when Christie launched the original MicroTiles. That product had a lot of unique characteristics, and few imitators. These Tiles, version 2, have scores of competitors, and I’m not sure whatever is unique about the 2019 versions will set them apart from a big pack.
I’m guessing a lot of display nerds will say, “Well, good for you, but those aren’t MicroTiles.”
On the other hand, it’s a brand name that has a good history and respect out there. I’d rather see the company go down this path than do what many Asian display companies do – give the products alpha-numeric names and labels no one likes or remembers. I’ve seen 100s, maybe 1,000s of press releases, asking me to get excited and remember something about the brand new L_24MPM-6778 series!!!
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.