When planning an eye-catching — and by “eye-catching,” we mean “face-melting” — video display system, the question of an LED video wall vs. a projection system will most likely be the first decision you need to ponder. Both systems have benefits and drawbacks, but for performance, convenience, and long-term value, an LED video wall is tough to beat.
First, a quick primer for those who aren’t familiar with the difference between the two systems...
A projection system uses a single light source to project an image onto a reflective surface, such as a screen, like you might find at a movie theater. So the image can be made quite large, but the bigger you make it, the fuzzier and darker it gets, particularly near the edges because the light from the single projection bulb decreases towards the edges of the image.
A video wall is akin to, but technically not, a gigantic flat-panel television that comes apart into easily transportable pieces. Like what you probably have at home, but completely different and much cooler. Because the image you see on a video wall is made up of thousands of tiny light sources spread out evenly over the entire image area, each putting out precisely the exact amount of light in the exact color combination needed to create the picture, the brightness and clarity is even across the entire image.
Modern LED large-scale video displays, such as Blizzard Lighting’s IRiS™ line, are made up of smaller panels that are light and mobile, and assemble easily and quickly to create an almost limitless variety of display sizes and configurations. They have much better contrast ratios, color gamut and brightness than projection systems, and are becoming more common – and therefore less expensive.
Let’s take a look at some of the advantages of today’s LED video panel systems.
- A BRIGHTER, SHARPER IMAGE – The first major consideration in a video display should be image quality, and simply due to the nature of the beast, LEDs are inherently brighter, sharper, and more colorful than projection images. The projection system is inefficient, and because the image is reflected, it can be affected by outside factors such as ambient light or objects casting shadows.
The LED video system transmits the image directly to the viewer’s eyes, so no outside factors will interfere with the quality of the image seen by the viewer. Well… it’s theoretically possible that an object could come between the display and the viewer, physically blocking the image, such as that tall guy in the top hat standing directly in front of you, or you know, a snowstorm.
Speaking of snow…
- CAN BE USED OUTDOORS – Outdoor-rated LED panel options are becoming more popular by the day. In addition to being able to withstand most weather conditions short of a Cat 5 hurricane or a powerful electromagnetic pulse, outdoor LED panel systems are more than bright enough to be viewed in nearly all lighting conditions, including direct sunlight. Whereas in order to see a projector’s image in bright sunlight, you would have to stare directly into the lens, which is not recommended for several reasons. For one thing, your retinas would probably burn to a crisp, blinding you for life. Also, the image would appear backwards.
Please note: only weatherproof, or “IP-rated” video walls are weatherproof. Regular ones are not. And for those of you who haven’t discovered Google, “IP” stands for “ingress protection” and provides a rating of a products ability to withstand ingress by particulates (the first number) and water (the second number), the higher the better.
- PORTABLE – LED panel systems can be quickly disassembled and packed neatly into a convenient transportable storage unit, such as the saddlebags of a stout mule, or one of our available padded road cases. Why, a single adult human could haul an entire 20-foot-wide LED video wall to the bottom of the Grand Canyon with the assistance of no more than two to four such mules, probably. Should you want to do that for some reason.
And assembly is easy.
- EXPANDABLE & CUSTOMIZABLE – Gone are the days when a modular video wall had bezels which interrupted the picture like some demented game of “Hollywood Squares.” We’ve also committed to history the era of showing the same tiny image on each individual panel, as if you wandered into the electronics department at Target and beheld the disturbing tableau of 80 televisions showing 80 different-sized versions of the same episode of “Leave It to Beaver” at the exact same time. Why, your brain can barely even process what your eyes are taking in because there are 80 Wallys and 80 Lumpys and 80 Eddie Haskells and some are big and some are small and why are they showing “Leave It to Beaver” anyway? It’s in black and white! You can’t compare the incredible color gamut, dynamic range and resolution of today’s modern high-definition television screens with a black and white TV show from the sixties. And WHY are Wally and the Beav befriending a hobo? 80 TIMES?! Are they OUT OF THEIR MINDS???!!
No, friends, today’s LED panels fit together seamlessly into one gigantic wall showing one gigantic, sharp, bright, and crystal-clear image! Or one small wall. Or one medium-sized wall. Or two small walls. Or a medium-sized triangle in the shape of “The $25,000 Pyramid” (but not the sham later version of the show without Dick Clark). The only limit is your imagination! And the number of panels you have.
- LONG-TERM VALUE – About the only advantage that a projection system has is the initial up-front cost. But because LED video panels use low-power LEDs which last a llooooong time and require much less service and zero ridiculously expensive lamp replacement. Add to that the fact that they are completely modular and serviceable with a few simple hand tools, and you’ll realize they are less expensive to operate over the long run. In fact, it only takes about two years from the date of purchase to break even on the initial investment of an LED panel system vs. a projection system. The long-terms savings of LED panels will quickly offset the initial investment.
Please take a look around our website for more in-depth (and serious-minded) discussion designed to help you make the wisest choice for your large-scale video needs and budget. And please don’t hesitate to contact us with questions or help finding an expert on video walls in your area!
Video Walls: How Big is Big Enough?
VIDEO: Watch our LED Video Wall Installation
The Visual Impact of IRiS Video Walls