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FEATURE: VIDEOWALLS Exploring new worlds

“You’ve come a long way, baby” was the slogan for a brand of cigarettes aimed at women that were slimmer and lighter than what had gone before. The same could be said for videowalls. Ian McMurray finds out how far

Media and internet company IAC's New York HQ features the largest videowall in the US. The Prysm wall is 120ft wide and 10ft tall and features more than 44 million pixels


SNB – super narrow bezels – and LED lighting are enabling videowalls to penetrate new markets

IT IS GENERALLY agreed that the first videowalls appeared in the early 1980s. Back then, they comprised arrays of CRT monitors – and, as such, there was almost as much visible gap between images as there was picture. Beyond this, the computer

technology needed to split an image across multiple screens was both rudimentary and expensive. Fast forward 30 years, and what’s changed? “The most significant change has been the introduction of the ‘super-narrow bezel’ class of LCD videowalls,” says Steve Seminario, who is a senior director of product marketing with Planar Systems. “All the other related technologies have been secondary contributors by comparison.” Certainly, super-narrow bezel – SNB – displays are

The ‘hot’ market is retail: increasingly, videowalls are being designed in, rather than added as an afterthought

The video cube isn’t dead: for many

applications, it brings qualities that flatpanel displays can’t match

Newcomer LPD – laser phosphor display – from Prysm is gaining ground, not least because of its low energy

consumption. OLED isn’t far away

helping transform the videowall market. For the past decade and beyond, users wanting a seamless display with almost no visible gap between screens have turned to projection cube technology, which delivered (and continues to deliver) leading-edge image quality – but at the cost of expense and bulk. With SNB flatpanel displays, the perceived image is almost as good – and comes at a lower price while being easier to install. Those factors are helping the videowall market grow rapidly. “Rear projection is still by

far the dominant technology in the control-room sector – and will remain so – but SNB LCD display walls are gaining popularity, particularly in training rooms and crisis suites,” notes Peter van Dijk,

business development manager at Mitsubishi Electric Europe. “LCD is not so suited to mission-critical facilities, but it’s a practical and cost-effective technology for many data visualisation and monitoring applications.” “We also see excellent

growth opportunities for SNB tiled displays in public display, retail and transportation,” he continues. “Their compact profile is a far more practical proposition compared to rear projection. We’ve seen strong growth here in Scandinavia and Russia over the past 18 months.” “Many of our projects have been coming from the retail sector, with the use of SNB displays increasing over the past year,” says Chris Bartram, managing director of Crystal Display Systems,

which designs, distributes and integrates flatpanel display solutions. “Samsung’s 40in and 46in SNB LED panels have become more affordable compared with the standard bezel displays.”

ILLUMINATING CHANGE For many, the introduction of LED illumination in flatpanel displays has been no less significant than the development of SNB, given the impact it has on depth and weight, and thus the number of locations in which videowalls can be installed. NEC’s corporate sales manager Guy Phelps notes that LED illumination also consumes less power and generates less heat, making it a greener solution – a position reinforced by the need for less packaging. “Interestingly,” says Phelps,

3D seems unlikely to be part of videowalls – other than specialist applications – until glasses-free technology has matured

‘Retail is still the largest market we see, with many brands embracing videowalls in flagship stores’

Steve Scorse, Prysm

November 2012 25

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