Running the risk of stating the obvious, video wall use is growing exponentially. We see them at the mall, at airports, sports venues, conference centers, higher education facilities, and not to mention corporate headquarters. It is only natural that if you are in any market that could benefit from a very large display, you might want to consider making the move from a projector or large flat panel and upgrade to a video wall. The lure of a video wall lies in its impact and memorability, so in this case, size does matter. However, before you jump to conclusions, it does not stop at size alone. Before you succumb to the enticements, glitz, and glamor, and jump onto the bandwagon, there are things you need to know to make an informed decision. What are the key considerations involved in the process of upgrading to a video wall? Doing some homework upfront before you go big is a requirement to ensure the outcome you expect.
The first stage of due diligence is to establish and articulate the objectives of the video wall. In short, what is the purpose of the wall, and the desired outcome? Once again, it is more than size alone. Questions to start with include how will you use the wall and who are the intended viewers? What kind of content will you be displaying? How many sources and content items do you want on screen at once? Understand that content may differ than a single flat panel or a projected image, depending on the wall configuration. While a simple daisy chain 2×2/3×3 configuration in 16:9 can be treated like a single large display, higher resolutions or different aspect ratios can require different content design.
The next consideration relates to the video wall processor. The question is whether you can use the daisy chain scalar built into most commercial flat panels, or will you need a full-featured video wall processor. The built-in scalars are limited to a single source. They expand that single image to the full size of the video wall, but they have limitations that must be considered such as size of the video wall, aspect ratio, and resolution. The full processor option provides for multiple sources, higher resolutions, flexible aspect ratios, and includes many special effects that you might covet.
Under the banner of let the buyer beware, understand that a videowall requires true system integration and not simply mounting a bunch of displays on a wall. It is not for the faint of heart or the ill-informed. We strongly urge anyone thinking of a videowall to engage with solutions experts as a partner in the process. There is an admonition in the photographic industry that says, “If you do not know photography, work with someone who does”. With the dollars that are involved in a video wall project, not to mention the complexity, this admonition will serve you well.
In terms of complexity, here is a brief list of things to consider:
- Location and size of the video wall
- Viewing distance and site lines for the intended viewers
- AV equipment requirements (displays, mounts, video and graphics sources)
- Structure on which to safely mount the video wall
- Seismic activity and shifting buildings
- Serviceability and maintenance
- Total cost of ownership (TCO)
By working with experienced partners in the selection of the hardware, engineering and integration of the system, and the servicing of a video wall, your expectations will be gratified. It is a tried and true axiom that the glee of low price is forgotten once the first problem arises. Do your homework upfront, work with great partners, and I promise you will ace the exam at the end.