Video Wall Matrix Displays – The Good, the Bad and the Ugly

Over the past few weeks I’ve had several inquiries regarding Video Walls or Matrix Displays.

We’ll here’s the good, the bad and the ugly regarding video walls

Good: First the good.  Video Walls and Matrix displays have come a long way since there inception in the late 80’s.  Back then most video wall displays were made up of Rear Projection TV’s which stacked like cubes.  An external computer or processor was also required to combine the various video sources into one, two, four or several pictures.

Today’s video walls and matrix displays are now banks of LCD or Plasma TV’s.  Unlike their bulky predecessors, these new Flat Panel displays are generally 4”-8” in depth and can be installed virtually anywhere.

The technological advantages of LCD or Plasma displays allows for a brighter and higher resolution image with a wider angle of viewing then previous rear projection matrix video walls.

WOW Factor!  There’s an undeniable WOW Factor when you first see a Flat Panel Matrix Video Wall Display.  These displays are best suited for Large Venue Exhibitions, Trade Shows, Shopping Malls, Concerts, Television Production and Increasingly the Hospitality Industry.

Overwhelmingly Matrix Displays are most often used as Digital Signage and Marketing where the observer is generally looking at the screen for less than 5 minutes… This is where the Wow Factor Comes In.

The matrix panels and video walls can be adjusted to display one Large image or 2, 4 or more images depending on the configuration of the Matrix.

Matrix displays are generally made up of 42” – “60” Plasma and LCD Displays.  The main detraction of Video Walls was the “Tiling Effect” created by the large gap between the screens created by the bezels surrounding each display.  Screen manufactures have been working diligently over the years to reduce the gap between screens to minimize the “Tile Effect”.  Although several manufactures offer flat panels which they market as “Zero Bezel” or “Edge to Edge” flat panel the truth is even the Zero Edge Bezel flat panels have a minimum frame width of 3.5mm (just under 1/4”).  Most flat panel screens used in today’s Video Wall Matrix Screens have frame widths between 90mm (3.5”) to as little as 7.3mm (3/8”)  when assembled together.  The smaller/narrower the frame/bezel width the more expensive the video wall.  Obviously the further away from the screen you view the picture the less the “Tile Effect” becomes.
Lastly with the advent of faster computer processors and video capture cards the resolution of today’s Video Walls and Matrix Screen displays rivals anything one could even have dreamed about ten years ago.  Almost all the video walls are connected via DVI computer monitor inputs and most screens are controlled by either a Linux or Windows based video processor.

Bad: Now for the Bad… The first negative about video wall matrix display screens is the price.  These things are expensive, and as the frame/bezel width decreases the price increases exponentially.  The smallest Matrix Video Wall display is a 2×2 or four screen display with prices starting around $24,000 installed.  A 3×3 or nine screen display can run as high as 50 grand for a “Zero Frame” Display.

High cost of maintenance … Video Walls and Matrix displays are notoriously expensive to maintain.  Screens need to be color calibrated regularly as they wear.  If one screen goes out of calibration it can make the whole video wall look awful.

The Ugly: Now what happens it a flat panel totally fails.  Once again off to the repair shop and in the meantime your video wall once again looks terrible.  Now what happens when a screen fails and cannot be repaired, you can’t just go to “Best Buy” and pick up a $500, 42” Flat Panel rather you’ve got to shell out $5-$6 grand for a new TV and then installion and recalibration of colors on all the TV’s in the video wall.  In addition to color calibration, failing TV’s there’s also the Matrix Display Processor to deal with.  This is basically a computer and like all computers will fail at some point in time.  What happens when the computer fails or locks up or a video card goes down or the firmware gets corrupted …. the whole video wall goes down till it’s repaired.  The average life of a video wall matrix display is 3-5 years maximum due to the high cost of maintaining these display systems.

Sure there’s a Huge WOW Factor! when you first look at these video wall displays but not too many sales reps tell you about the total cost of ownership to these mesmerising displays.

Question?   Do customers like to Watch Sports on a Video Wall Matrix Display?

Video Wall Matrix Displays are great attention grabbers and excellent for short video clips, exhibition, trade shows, digital signage and advertising but the real question is Would you watch a Hockey or Football game on a120” Video Wall with “Tiles and Bezel Frames” cutting up the picture or would you prefer to watch a Hockey or Football Game on a 120” Front Projection Motorized Screen with a clear, bezel free, full frame picture?

At DJ’s Sound City we sell both systems,  2×2 Video Walls starting at $24,000 installed and 120” Front Projection TV’s with 120” motorized screens for $4000.

We’re interested in your thoughts on Video Walls for watching sporting events vs Large Screen or Flat Panels.

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