When I was at DSE a couple of months ago, I had a high room with a Strip and west view, and every morning I’d see off in the distance a huge LED display being tested and perhaps burned in on the side of the Palms resort.
That beast has since gone live – a 272-foot tall LED mesh wall that fills the whole east-facing, Strip-facing side of one of the towers at that casino resort, which is maybe a couple of miles off the Strip.
The screen is part of a $690 million facelift – touted as the most expensive renovation to date in Vegas. It is intended to bring the property upmarket – more like a Wynn for millennials than the Hard Rock Casino.
There would have been a few reasons to go mesh:
Weight load – Though not light, the displays are relatively light when compared to full outdoor LED cabinets, so they could be added without (I assume) reinforcing the building to handle the added weight;
Transparency – It is 50% see-through, so people in rooms on that wall can see out (though they’re looking through a grill now);
Wind-load – Vegas gets windy, sometimes seriously windy. A mesh like this has far less resistance than a solid surface;
Cost – Lower resolution, fewer LEDs, less metal and wiring all result in lowered capital costs, though it would still be a big number.
I’m not a big fan of mesh LED when it is used in retail windows, because it tends to look awful on the non-illuminated side of the screen, like a security grill. Same with architectural spaces like lobbies of buildings or feature windows.
However, clad like this on the side of the building, I think it works well. and also think we’ll be seeing a LOT more like this in hotel and resort properties. The hotel would have made a calculation that while the Strip view was going to be compromised in some rooms, the net marketing benefits were worth it.
The brightness is no issue and it is possible to get a decent long-view image, with a 25mm pixel pitch. The stuff going up on marquees on the Strip might be 10mm or even lower, but this is primarily meant to be seen from a long distance.
— Palms Casino Resort (@Palms) April 7, 2019
I spoke with a reporter 2-3 months ago about that barge with an LED board on it working the rivers off Manhattan, upsetting locals who say they see enough advertising. I told him the future could easily have office towers in Brooklyn, Long Island City and across the Hudson in Jersey all lit up with LED as vast billboards.
Vegas is a special case, but I wonder what happens when a developer wants to do this in, say, Indianapolis or Houston.
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.