Don’t Use a Consumer TV for Digital Signage!!!
As Digital Signage becomes increasingly popular so has the trend of replacing commercial grade displays with cheap consumer TV’s. With businesses all around the globe tightening their belts it is understandable to see why this may seem like a good idea. But then again, there is a reason why consumer TVs and commercial display panels are priced the way they are.
At least in the initial inspection there may not seem to be a huge differences in product quality but lets take a closer look.
Businesses need display panels that are built to perform for longer: Now imagine a business using a digital signage to promote their brand. The expectation is that the display panel will function seamlessly for pretty much the whole day. Well, you could potentially use a high-end consumer flat screen but then you cannot risk the panel dying on you after a few hours! This can be explained by a technical term “duty cycle” which is determined by the hardware used. Additionally, commercial panels use heat dissipaters and other technologies to reduce heat. Consumer TVs by design are built to have 5-6 hours of duty cycle so while you might push the usage to more hours in the day, chances are that the consumer TV might heat up beyond control and stop functioning. Now imagine the cost of your signage dying middle of the day which can quickly negates any cost savings that got by buying a consumer TV
Businesses need flexibility in controls and display options: Businesses are all about flexibility and the same applies to the AV devices that they use. For instance, digital signage’s need to operate in both portrait and landscape mode considering the various applications (for e.g. use in a boardroom v/s outside a conference booth). Most consumer TV panels do not come with support for both portrait and landscape mode which might land you in trouble if you install one for your business. The other important aspect is the flexibility in controls. One is the option of locking external inputs to ensure that digital signage used outdoors which is exposed to people walking by cannot be fiddled around with. Most consumer panels have buttons (on/off, volume etc.) on the outside which makes it difficult to lock out outsiders from touching the device. Another control is the ability to connect the device with multiple inputs which commercial panels provide through RS232 ports which inturn allows the panel to be controlled by say a AMX system.
Power Savings: LCD’s can often suck up a lot of power and can be energy hogs if run for long duration as required by most businesses. For example, a restaurant with an outdoor menu in the form of a display signage might require 24/7 operation which can rake up the electricity costs. While there is nothing to say that commercial panels or consumer grade offer better energy savings, atleast most good quality commercial panels come with various features such as intelligent sensors to reduce the brightness based on the ambient light. They also come with power settings which allow for the installer to set preferred power consumption levels. The power savings from commercial panels in the long run alone might be enough to justify purchasing a commercial panel instead of opting for a consumer panel.
It’s all about the warranties and customer support: When it comes to hardware purchases, even we consumers prefer manufacturers who offer longer warranties on their products without a lot of terms and conditions. Warranties on hardware become even more critical for businesses as they have to ensure that the their purchases are protected against any issues to the device. Since most business hardware purchases are governed by tight budgets, there is little margin for the device to die and not have the budget to purchase a replacement. Consumer panels do come with warranties but are often for a limited time and are not protected if the devices are run for more than 5-6 hours a day. On the other hand, commercial panels have robust warranties thereby ensuring more insurance against the purchased product. Another aspect with warranties is the option of having a reliable and prompt customer support. Now for the most part, while consumer panel manufacturers might also have customer support technicians their expertise may not always be that at par to solve specific needs of businesses.
So while initially a business may save money by purchasing a consumer panel these savings can quickly be negated when these additional factors are taken into account. Like with everything in life, you get what you pay for.