Choosing the Right Screen: Part 2 in the Series
Whether it's a new dealership, adding screens or finally updating that tube TV -- the choices of TV's in the market place is large and the same size TV can range in price by as much as tenfold. The only way to determine which TV is best for you is to narrow down the choices and then look at your budget.
When considering a screen for a professional environment, it will help to understand the definitions starting with quality then types then features of TV's on the market today.
Burn In - Burn in refers the lines and images in the TV that stay behind even when the image on the screen has changed. This occurs when the same image is shown repeatedly or in the case of digital signage -- the same images, borders, backgrounds on the screen at the same time.
Megahertz (MHz) - This is a measurement of bandwidth for digital video signals. In other words, how fast the television processes images. The higher the number, the less chance of motion blur or ghosting around images.
Tuner - Tuners allow for changing the channel directly on the television. This is only used with cable systems when the COAX is connected directly to the television. Otherwise, when a cable /satellite box is used, a tuner is not necessary because the box acts as the tuner.
Consumer TV - these TV's can be found at the local Best Buy, Walmart, Target, etc. In general, consumer TV's are meant to be used for no more then four hours a day. Usage more then that suggested time will reduce the longevity of the picture quality. Due to restrictions in useage, Consumer TV's are more susceptible to burn-in. All Consumer TV's have built-in tuners and often put a greater emphasis on aesthetics then Commercial Displays. Consumer TV's can have options such as web-applications, 3D, and multiples of select inputs. Warranties usually indicate consumer use and are range up to one year.
Commercial / Professional TV's - designed from the beginning to be in use all day every day, commercial televisions have high quality screens and internal components (power / fans). Most commercial tv's come with a long-term warranty on the complete system that can be up to three years in some situations. Commercial TV's offer a variety of inputs and are versatile to be used in multiple configurations and environments. While not as feature rich as consumer TV's most of the newer systems produce comparable images to their consumer siblings.
TYPES OF MONITORS
Plasma - Often referred to as the base point for color reproduction, Plasma TV's offer the brightest of colors while producing the deepest of blacks across the entire TV. High Energy Consumption, High Cost, Higher Weight then comparable sized types of TV's are common negatives when referring to plasmas. In addition, plasma TV's cannot be mounted or stored vertically. All Plasmas are 600MHz
LCD - Lighter weight and a energy efficient alternative to Plasmas, LCD's are easier to produce and hence less expensive as well. Available in 60MHz, 120MHz, 240MHz.
LED - the newest innovation is using LED (Light Emitting Diodes) to create a vibrant pictures, with large viewing angles while keeping the frame and bezel down to a minimum. LED TV's can be as narrow as 1/4" with negligible bezel providing seemingly edge to edge picture. LED's provide a balance between the weight, energy efficiency, color reproduction, and costs of LCD's and Plasmas.
720P - This standard high-definition resolution is the quality of dvd players and most digital systems including some cable companies, Verizon FIOS and older versions of DishTV and DirectTV. Requires Component or HDMI Connections.
1080P - The highest resolution available today for live broadcast and pre-recorded programming. Blu-ray players, some cable companies, and the newer versions of DishTV and DirectTV Satellite boxes will push the highest resolution when quality is available. Requires HDMI Connection.
Web Apps - mainly on consumer TV's applications extend the basic functions of the television to allow web access, facebook, twitter, movie streaming services and much more.
3D - visible through glasses (some new systems claim glasses aren't needed) producing an illusion of three dimensional imagery from certain sources and converting standard television.
WHICH SYSTEM IS RIGHT
A question often asked without a direct answer.
Today's commercial displays offer a high-quality experience that is guaranteed for up to three years -- but at a cost of about 50% more then a consumer television. If a 50"+ television is needed for your application, ie. lounge, then the cost of the commercial grade television will be twice the consumer television.
In practice, when we recommend televisions for our customers or offer our white-glove service, the priority is on budget and longevity -- a balance. In the lounge, most dealerships will opt for a larger display that provides an experience similar to a customer's home. 50"+ is the norm and for the cost, it is best to go with a consumer television. If you need to replace it in a year because of degradation of picture quality, most owners understand that expense. These TV's can be any style from Plasma, LCD or LCD.
When providing a television for a vertical installation, such as a service menu -- we highly recommend a commercial monitor as the content on the screen is limited to 10-20 images that repeat. These commercial displays have warranties to perform the same for up to three years at 24/7 service. In addition, many are located in the service bay where temperatures can vary greatly. Plasma screens cannot be mounted vertically!
For those customers that are looking for a multiple monitor configuration, ie. Service Bay, Sales Offices, Showroom Floor -- cost is the biggest challenge. While commercial screens would be best, when installing three-eight screens, that cost of 50% more per screen adds up. For instance, if you were to install 6 screens across sales offices, you may be able to get 42" screens for $600 ($3600) whereas commercial grade screens would cost at least $900 ($5400). While the longetivty of the commercial screens is documented, the up front costs may be harder to rationalize in this situation.
The final factor -- aesthetics. I recently had this conversation with a client who was buying 10 TVs. They understood all the parameters and determined that the thinnest, brightest televisions were the "best" for him and his situation. Replacing or fixing in half the time wasn't as important as the "cool factor" of a lightest, thinnest TV with the smallest bezel. The idea was that he wanted people to be "WOWED" by the entire experience of Digital Signs, including the TV.
In general, there is no reason to spend extra money for web features or 3D for digital signage solutions. The difference between 720 to 1080 will depend on your preference and the TV signal that is coming through the system. Overall, the choice of TV's a personal one balancing your business requirements, budget and aesthetics.