6 Digital Display Options for Small Digital Displays
In Part 1 of a Buyer’s Guide to Trade Show Digital Displays, we discussed the pros and cons of using tablets, computer monitors, kiosks, and TVs for digital displays. In part 2, we will break down the features and benefits of using larger displays -- projectors and entire video walls.
Reasonably priced, relatively compact, and capable of displaying large content, projectors can feel like the perfect trade show choice. And for many booths, they are. For starters, projectors have 3 requirements:
- Projectors needs to be at least 13-15,000 lumens to compete with the exhibit hall lighting. For comparison, an average office projector is about 3500 lumens, and home projector is less than 2000 lumens. If your projector does not have enough brightness, you will need to control the hall’s ambient light by enclosing the screen by “tunneling” it.
- If you were showing a movie on the side of your house, any old white fabric would do for a screen. But for professional-grade projectors, the projector screen is of utmost importance if you want the best results. A light gray or silver screen casts a much better image than white, making all the colors look sharper and more vibrant. To improve the brightness results, use a projector screen with a reflective coating and a dark border, which absorbs stray light and gives the impression of a brighter image.
- Clear light path. For the projection to work at all, it must have a clear light path of at least 8-12 feet, free from any obstructions, including people. Most likely, this will mean mounting the projector overhead, which means you’ll need to check on the exhibit hall’s regulations for booth hangings.
While not a requirement, aspect ratio and sound are two very important considerations when using a projector. With a native aspect ratio of 4:3, projected images can look like an old TV or a first-generation computer image. To emulate 16:9 content, the content has to be drastically resized, lowering the brightness and the image quality. Likewise, the sound from a projected source is hard to manipulate. If your audio source is not near the screen, it can be discombobulating to the audience. Place the speakers near the screen and configure them so that it sounds like the sound is coming directly from the screen.
The largest and most dynamic of digital displays, a video wall is actually made up of multiple pieces or “zones” of a picture all placed together creating one gigantic image. Video walls use commercial digital displays because of the very thin bezel around the screen needed to stack them. The modularity of video walls enables digital images many times larger than the largest monitor to be displayed.
Video walls enable exhibitors to create an experience that is larger than life. Literally. Large moving images on video walls are dramatic and create an atmosphere that transports attendees from the exhibit hall to another place. For example:
- An immersive experience (becoming part of the NYC marathon)
- Viewing the message from a long distance away (overhead signage)
- Creating ambiance (jungle theme of Skyline's recent EXHIBITORLIVE exhibit)
Ideal for companies with large marketing budgets, video walls are the most dynamic of digital displays. They do come with some extra expense, however. Because the images are large and digital, they need to be mapped to the specific pixel count of the video tile wall. They also need to have a refresh rate of at least 30 Hz, which is much faster than normal video speed. Video tile walls also require a subject matter expert during installation and setup – there are a lot of moving parts to these massive displays.
Obviously, a display this massive has that “wow!” factor that everyone desires. When it works, it’s amazing! But if any piece of it flickers out or fails to perform, it can feel disastrous. It detracts from the entire experience. That’s why Skyline always suggests having on-site support throughout the entirety of the show. Skyline also recommends leaving the video wall on until the show is over – shutting down the power or turning off the wall just runs the risk of a start-up failure.
One very important moving part in a video wall display is the pitch, the distance between the LED lights. The pitch effects the quality of the image, which improves as the pitch decreases because there’s less space between the LEDs. The catch here is that the security of the video wall decreases as the pitch decreases because there are more lights, and thus more weight. The rule of thumb for viewing distance is 1 meter (or 3.3 feet) per 1 millimeter pitch. Most video tiles in the trade show industry balance cost and reliability with a pitch of 2.9 mm. So, a video wall built from 2.9mm pitch tiles will look best at a distance of 9.5 feet or more.
If you predict you’ll need closer viewing or smaller screen sizes, your best bet will be to use multiples TVs as opposed to a video wall. The video wall experience is intended to be BIG!
Whatever your digital display need, there’s a medium that suits you. Rather than going for one of these technologies and trying to cram your message into it (“But I WANT a big screen!”), start with the story you want to tell. The story will lead to the content which will lead to the right choice for your exhibit.
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This article was inspired by "A Buyer's Guide to Trade Show Displays-Part 2" by Pierre Menard and first appeared at skyline-etips.com