Direct View LED: No Longer the New Kid On The Digital Signage Block
July 28, 2021 by Dave Haynes
Guest Post: David Jones, Allsee Technologies
As someone who’s been working at the forefront of AV technology for over two decades, it’s been incredible to witness the evolution of different display technologies within the digital signage industry – and in particular, direct view LED (DV-LED) solutions – over recent years.
Many of the partner companies I deal with are reporting that DV-LED is on the cusp of explosive global growth. It seems that the technology has finally reached a stage of accessibility for widespread adoption, in terms of awareness, performance and – perhaps most importantly – price. This is evidenced by the abundance of articles raving about impactful installations with creative content all around the world.
That’s why I felt now was the perfect time for me to offer my take on why the market is experiencing such rapid growth, plus predictions about changes we’ll see in coming years – all supported by industry research and real-life observations.
Why is Direct View LED Taking Off?
The mainstay of any digital signage network is, of course, the displays. For a long time, LCD was the go-to display technology. However, in recent years the adoption of emerging technologies, such as e-paper Electronic Shelf Labels (ESLs), has also become evident. While LCD is still a great option in many cases, DV-LED is rapidly becoming a viable alternative for a lot of projects.
So why is this?
To answer this question, let’s take a step back in time. When DOOH first began to merge with OOH, right back in the early days of digital signage, there was a clear disparity between the cost of technology and rate of return. Initially, the gap between the two seemed too wide to close. However, a number of factors – namely improved reliability, viewability and longevity – eventually made DOOH a viable mainstream business model.
Fast forward to present day and we’re now seeing so much DV-LED in the digital signage space for exactly the same reasons. Costs have fallen while performance and longevity have improved, giving DV-LED solutions a lower total cost of ownership than LCD displays.
As well as these more general factors, there are also specific reasons why parties at every stage of the chain are driving the popularity of DV-LED.
Compared to LCD displays, DV-LED solutions are a manufacturer’s dream. Just about every part of the manufacturing process is more efficient, which incentivises manufacturers to encourage the transition to this display technology.
For Distributors & Resellers
In the past, some distributors and resellers were daunted by the thought of tackling DV-LED projects due to a lack of experience. However, manufacturers have worked hard to develop an end-to-end project management service for bespoke solutions, as well as growing range of out-of-the-box solutions with fixed sizes, DV-LED has become much more accessible.
For End Users
When placed side-by-side in a video wall, even LCD displays with the narrowest bezel on the market will have lines between screens to distract from the overall effect. If an end user wants a seamless large-scale display with high-impact content, there really is only one option: direct view LED.
On top of this, DV-LED solutions can achieve higher brightness levels than LCD displays, which is absolutely critical for outdoor applications. Unlike LCD displays, they’re also not constrained by standard aspect ratios so can be designed to fit any space, regardless of size or shape.
What Trends Are Sweeping the Market?
Fine Pixel Pitch
Driven by market demand, pixel pitch has become narrower and narrower over the past few years. Research suggests that the popularity of fine pitch displays isn’t going away any time soon, with over half of all DV-LED sales now being 2.5mm or less.
From my conversations with our partners about their end-user requirements, it’s clear we’re seeing the effects of this trend. We’re receiving more and more enquiries about fine pitch DV-LED – but curiously there’s little interest in anything finer than 1.2mm. For the vast majority of projects, it seems that when pitch gets finer than this, the image quality doesn’t improve significantly enough to justify the dramatically increased price.
As well as fine pixel pitches, the market is also pushing for one-piece stock solutions with set aspect ratios. Typically, these sorts of solutions are popular as meeting room presentation displays, whereas other applications would require a different, more bespoke approach.
However, we are now seeing demand for out-of-the-box solutions in other settings, such as window displays. This removes the knowledge barrier that can prevent potential integrators and end users alike from investing in DV-LED by providing a way to access this technology without the hassle associated with designing and installing a fully bespoke solution.
Many of us who have worked with display technologies for years often talk about the display as the most important part of the solution. But this isn’t entirely true: content is also king. In any project, these two elements must work in harmony – even the most amazing content needs to be paired with the right display technology to do it justice.
With DV-LED technology becoming more mainstream, innovative content is popping up on displays all around the world – like the 3D-effect content that regularly crops up on social media. As technology advances, I’m certain we’ll see content evolve into even more impressive forms.
History shows us that further improvements in direct view LED technology will only improve viability, with DV-LED solutions set to become even more efficient, more reliable and more cost-effective as time goes on. This means the exponential market growth we’ve already witnessed is sure to continue into the future.
- Direct view LED is rapidly becoming a mainstream display technology due to:
- Falling costs;
- Improved performance and longevity;
- Ease of manufacturing;
- Improved accessibility;
- Seamless, modular nature.
- Fine pitch displays are increasing in popularity, but pixel pitches below 1.2mm are still a very niche market;
- Demand for out-of-the-box solutions outside of meeting rooms is growing;
- The potential for even more creative content has been unlocked as technology advances.
ABOUT THE WRITER
David Jones is a DV-LED Solutions Consultant at Allsee Technologies. With over 20 years’ experience in the AV industry, David has managed countless large-scale DV-LED projects, including the Emirates Stadium and Trent Bridge cricket ground. He has worked for some of the biggest players in the industry before joining Allsee, most recently Optoma. Founded in 2007, Allsee Technologies is a UK-based digital signage display manufacturer with headquarters in Birmingham, England, and an office in Oostende, Belgium, for EU support. Allsee boasts a wider range of solutions than any other commercial display manufacturer – including their Queen’s Award-winning all-in-one CMS platform.