I can’t recall any single year in my history in this business– pro video, AV Digital Signage– that saw so many technology introductions. Video projection, LCD flat panel displays, and LED. We can stop the list right there– and there is just a ton of product evolution this year.
No it’s not a real Ford Mustang. It’s the 1.2mm pixel pitch high res LED from LeyardThe entire projection world is in total flux, as the march toward lampless hybrid (generally the term used for lower-lumen LED/laser hybrid light source projectors in the 2-4K lumen range) at the low end is strong, and with the new laser phosphor projectors (also sometimes called blue pump laser) filling in previous gaps in the mid-range (4-12K lumen). Laser phosphor is the hottest category of projection now, not just for the obvious TCO issues (think 20,000 hour life for a laser-hybrid illumination source) but also for image quality.
LCD flat panels– or if you prefer to call them “LED” as many manufacturers like to, even though they are in fact LCD panels with LED back-lit light source– are moving into areas beyond just added resolution with 4K. In fact 4K while stunning and important, is not needed in much of the digital signage world. Bring on the 4K– it’s a great improvement (especially if the viewer is going to be close to the screen as in a high end retail/boutique retail environment such as a luxury car showroom for example). But whether 1080P or 4K, the bigger story in terms of growing the market this year is about ultra thin bezel LCD panels, and outdoor LCD panels, and ruggedized LCD panels. The best video wall/flat panel display manufacturers are offering bezel sizes in the “Narrow” range: about 3.5mm bezel width. And a few video wall manufacturers are pushing the envelope by making “super narrow bezel” products available with a bezel size of as little as 1.8mm. (LG, who this month at least holds the title, introduced a 48.5”and 54.6” at InfoComm featuring an unprecedented bezel-to-bezel measurement of about 1/16th of an inch or 1.8mm, allowing displays to be connected near seamlessly with others.)
Which brings us to LED again, but this time, real, direct view LED (not LED-backlit LCD panels). As Alan Brawn pointed out in his recent article in Digital Signage magazine, the current state of the art in this area is a 1 millimeter pixel pitch model that looks good enough “to watch the big game on– from a few feet away”. Samsung’s new 1.2mm pixel pitch direct view LED was shown at the Samsung booth at InfoComm. In addition to Samsung, SiliconCore Technology, Daktronics, Christie, Leyard, NanoLumens, and Panasonic showed narrow pixel pitch direct view LED at InfoComm, unveiling a range of various direct-view LED display options ranging in resolution from 1.2mm to 2.6mm. And to top off the recent news on the LED front, Portland, OR-based Planar was of course recently acquired by a U.S. affiliate of the Chinese company Leyard. Planar debuted its 1.6mm direct view LED at the Digital Signage Expo March 2015 in Las Vegas, and showed it at InfoComm. And I was very impressed by 1.2mm pixel pitch high res LED at the Leyard booth at the NAB show in Las Vegas, in April 2015. So the recent news (and some intriguing developments since the acquisition news) from the new Pacific Rim combined powerhouse puts a real exclamation point on the LED trend– as we head into the 4th quarter of 2015.