A video wall is the centerpiece of your mission critical operations center. As an essential piece of your common operating picture, your video wall system requires careful thought and planning to help you best reach your operational goals.
There are a lot of options for video wall technology on the market, and deciding what’s best for you can feel overwhelming. The pressure to choose wisely is especially felt in mission critical, where the display’s performance, reliability, and capabilities play a vital role in high-stakes functions.
LED vs LCD is a common debate when choosing a video wall. Both technologies are reliable and well-suited to mission critical use cases but have differing strengths to take into account when considering which may best suit your space. Let’s dive into some of the key differences between LED and LCD video walls and how they might affect your decision.
As you consider video wall technologies, you need to keep in mind the content you plan to display. Will you need to spread a single application across the entire video wall? Or will the display consist of several types of content boxed within individual displays? LED video walls are the only kind to offer a truly seamless viewing experience, making them the better choice for extending visuals across multiple display panels. However, if you plan to display multiple applications where a perfectly seamless display isn’t as important, LCD is a good choice. Many LCD panels now have ultra-narrow bezel options where the bezels won’t interfere as much with viewing.
The layout of your control room will also affect the best choice of technology for your space. Room size and number of operators may determine whether LED or LCD may fit best since the viewing distance and angles affect display quality. In larger rooms, LED walls may be a smart choice, since they are suited to a greater viewing distance. Mission critical LED walls have a smaller pixel pitch than other LEDs on the market and therefore can be made to fit in any size of the room. One thing is important to note, however: the lower the pixel pitch, the higher the resolution – and thus, the higher the cost. On the other hand, LCD video walls work well in rooms of all sizes due to consistent image quality even from a short viewing distance. In cases where you need fine details like text visible from a close distance, LCD may be the better choice.
Both LED and LCD video walls offer a high-quality display experience with great color accuracy and brightness. Years ago, mission critical spaces had to be kept dark in order to prevent interference with the visibility of the displays. Technology has since advanced to the point that both LED and LCD video walls produce enough brightness with high contrast to function well even in well-lit rooms. However, the way they may reflect the room’s light does differ slightly.
Of the two, LCD is more likely to act as a specular reflector, meaning it can directly reflect the light coming from lamps. This isn’t necessarily a big issue, as the positioning of the light sources within the room can alleviate most light interference. LED video walls are more likely to act as a diffuse reflector, reflecting light equally in all directions. Both LED and LCD video wall technologies provide visuals at a high enough quality that lighting won’t provide much interference, but it’s still a factor to consider as you weigh your options for video walls.
When it comes to power usage, LED technology is the winner. While energy consumption is generally proportional to size, LED screens have greater energy efficiency than LCD displays. This is in part due to the display technology and LED’s ability to dim the backlights, even creating absolute black on the display.
Maintenance and reliability
At the level of quality that you will need for mission critical, both LCD and LED display technologies are built to last under consistent use. However, even the best display technology can require maintenance. LED display maintenance is simple, as individual modules can easily be replaced. Many LED panels also have lifetime ratings of 80,000 – 100,000 hours, making them smart long-term investments. LCD panels, on the other hand, have less fine-tuned maintenance. If one part of the screen goes out, then that entire panel needs to be replaced. However, LCD technology is also optimized to mitigate the potential of burn-ins and discoloration on the screen, reducing the possible need for maintenance due to an image remaining static for a prolonged period of time.
Especially at the indoor, mission critical quality level, LED displays are more expensive than LCD displays. However, while LEDs are still the more expensive option, technology is constantly improving and as the market shifts, the entry price to LED is coming down while quality is going up.
While the up-front cost is important to consider, there are also factors that contribute to the total cost of ownership including power consumption, maintenance, reliability, and cooling requirements. Both LED and LCD displays come at a high price point when you’re purchasing for mission critical reliability, but technology built to a higher standard than consumer displays will protect your investment in the long term.
LED vs LCD: Is There a Winner?
Ultimately, there is no universally accepted right answer in the LED vs LCD debate. It all comes down to your specific use case. An industry-specific integrator like Constant can help you weigh all these considerations to help you decide which is best for your space.
With a project as important as a mission critical operations center, you need an integrator you can trust to help you make the right choices for your video wall system. At Constant, we’re dedicated to ensuring your mission critical space operates at peak performance. We have decades of knowledge unmatched in the industry and offer custom design services and long-term service contracts.
If you are preparing to build a video wall for your mission critical control room, contact us today for a free design and budget consultation.
Constant Technologies, Inc. provides AV integration for 24/7 video walls and custom operation center furniture. With 30+ years of experience, we can work with sensitive environments in the public and private sectors. Constant designs and installs projects of all scopes and sizes around the world. We also offer long-term service and support. We create solutions with the highest levels of security, aesthetics and functionality in mind.