Digital Signage Displays

On the Search for the Tipping Point

Professional displays are growing larger and larger. The leading display vendors have upgraded their product portfolio with 84” and 94” UHD-displays. How much larger will the screen size grow? Can we expect to cross the 100” line at next year´s ISE? What sizes are still practicable? An analysis

The industry still remembers the time when Panasonic introduced “the beast” in summer 2006. At that time the Panasonic plasma featured an unbelievable large 103” (2,62m) Display. The larger than life displays were the hippest display available for a hefty 70k USD sticker price. Unfortunately with size came weight. More than 215 KG without stand meant moving them around required heavy equipment. The first buyers were actually consumer – a couple of dentist in Germany. Panasonic delivered the first displays with a mobile crane. Installation required to take out some of the windows, blocking the street for the mobile crane and a minimum of four staff to fix the monster on site. In 2009 we stumbled across one factory-fresh 103” Panasonic at the local Media Markt for 39.999 EUR.

But since then lots has changed. But the main challenge remains: how do manage logistics, installation and service of these “Real Life” displays. BTW, Samsung brands very large displays 60” and larger as “Real Life” – supposedly reflecting the ability to show full size images of person in portrait mode. It remains to be discussed at what size “real Life” starts. We at invidis sort displays larger than 70” in this category. Thanks to LED Backlight today’s 9x” display weigh less than half of the plasma dinosaurs. The new NEC 98” UHD display is listed with a weight of 98 KG. But still displays of this size bust all standard logistic processes. Customized pallets are necessary, many elevators and doors cannot handle displays of this size anymore.

Supplying or retrofitting retail outlets and offices with real life sized displays is a tremendous challenge. Therefore we believe that a realistic demand for displays larger than 100” is very limited due to logistics. The ceiling is not technology but affordable logistics and services. The alternative are “bezel-less” video walls as the appropriate substitute for larger than life installations. But where is the tipping point?

We at invidis have been searching for the tipping point at which video wall displays are the better, more affordable alternative. Discussing this matter with NEC, Samsung and LG didn’t bring any valuable insights. Looking to find a tipping point based on price was our first approach. But taking into account necessary video wall mounts, additional signal processing equipment etc the savings for single thin bezel video wall displays vs one very large display is not that large based on average project prices.

Prices don’t offer any realistic base for a tipping point. Resolution isn’t any indication for a tipping point either: UHD-resolution of 9x” displays is much more than any digital signage retail project requires not to speak of 4 x UHD of video wall. So at the end of the day less bezel is less hassle, but swapping a real life sized display will require much more than a UPS driver can manage.

The industry will supply larger displays on an annual base to keep R&D and communication busy. The next three years will be dominated by UHD displays ranging between 70”-100” replacing smaller video walls and enabling new experiences at the PoS. Any diameter beyond 100” won’t change the rules of digital signage dramatically.

The 8th OVAB Digital Signage Conference Munich will feature various presentations and panel discussions about digital signage at the POS. How the market will change with UHD and Real Life sized displays. For more information and registration check the conference website.