January 20, 2021

Direct View LED Video Walls: What Are They? Do You Need One?

[7 Minute Read]


There are plenty of resources on the internet about direct view LED video walls. Most of these come from the manufacturers of the products themselves, making them a little biased. Today's goal is to answer "What is a direct view LED display?" and "Do we need it?" - from an impartial audio visual engineer's perspective.


From this article, you will get:

  • A high-level overview of direct view LED technology
  • Typical applications
  • A list of questions that you should ask before purchasing

If you've purchased a TV in the past ten years, you know that quality is going up, and prices are going down. As the technology improves, displays are getting larger and brighter, and are coming with higher contrast ratios.


We have gone from 36" CRTs to 70" LCDs in our homes. Today's displays are astonishing compared to what was available in years past. These trends created standards and demands that caused a shift in the commercial space.


Think of it like this.


If you're used to a bright 70" display in your living room, an old 55" display is going to look out of place in a 15-person conference room.

direct view led displays

A Small TV vs. A Direct View LED Video Wall

The first round of displays in conference spaces went up to 70". The latest round tops out around 98". These displays look great and have become affordable for this type of application. 


But what if you want something larger? Or something that's a custom size or shape? 


That's where Direct View LED walls come in. 


What are direct view LED displays?

A direct view LED is a display that consists of light-emitting diodes (LEDs) mounted on a panel. Each LED is a tiny bulb that emits colored light.


Direct view LED video walls consist of several direct view LED  displays working together to seamlessly display content as if it were a single screen. 


The video walls have several components: 

  • The digital displays
  • Mounting hardware
  • Controller
  • Video Source

Direct view LED video walls have several distinct differences over traditional displays and tiled array video walls (2x2, 3x2, etc.).


Sizing

Direct view LED video walls are purchased and configured by linking smaller panels of LEDs together. Since the panels have no bezels, they can be tiled together for a seamless look at custom sizes or aspect ratios. They have different pixel pitches to choose from, so they can scale to any size. If bigger is your goal, direct view LED is a great option.


Brightness

Direct view LEDs are BRIGHT! The average flat panel display in your home or conference room will be 300 to 700 nits in brightness. Direct view LED products can range from 4000 to 10000 nits. The bright and crisp displays make them ideal for high ambient light environments, like building entrances and feature spaces.


(How much will your next audio visual project cost? Get a rough estimate with our free budgeting calculator.)


Life Expectancy

The life of direct view LED is much longer than your average display. Average consumer displays can range from 10,000-20,000 hours. Commercial displays can stretch out to about 50,000 hours. Many direct view LEDs have an 80,000 hour life expectancy. 


The lifetime of these displays is critical as the walls are typically custom sized. This makes replacing a single panel difficult, so you want a product that will last for years to come.


Energy Efficient

Depending on the content and brightness settings, direct view LEDs can be up to 75% more energy-efficient than LCD panels. This is good for the planet and your wallet.


Direct View LED Video Wall Applications

Direct view LED displays can be used anywhere due to their scalability, customization, and brightness. A more relevant question is when should you use them? You'll have to weigh the costs and benefits to make that decision, but here are the most typical applications that we see.

direct view led outdoor

Outdoor Spaces

Direct view LEDs are available with an IP rating for outdoor use. Additionally, their incredibly bright displays make the content easy to see, even in direct sunlight.


led video wall sports arena

Sports Arenas

Direct view LED video walls can scale to 100 feet (or more!), making them excellent for arena settings.


led display theaters

Theaters, Performance Centers & Houses of Worship

Using direct view LEDs as backdrops will create stunning displays that even people in the back can see and engage with.


led video wall display commercial

Large Indoor Spaces

Office lobbies, airports, malls, and convention centers can use direct view LED video walls to create stunning visuals that entertain and inform. 



Questions to Ask

Here are a few questions to ask if you're considering purchasing a direct view LED video wall.


What’s the distance to the closest viewer? 

Direct view LEDs have a specification known as pixel pitch. The larger the pitch, the farther apart the LED's in the panels are. The smaller the pitch, the closer they are. This will determine how close a viewer can be and see a seamless image without the space between the LEDs. Pixel pitch has a considerable effect on the price of the wall, so you need to know this before shopping around.


What size do you want the display to be? 

If you are looking for something 110" or larger, direct view LED displays are a good option. If you need to do a feature wall with an unconventional shape, size, or aspect ratio, then direct view LED displays can accommodate those demands.


What’s a baseline budget for your project? 

As the technology improves and demand increases, direct view LEDs continue to decrease in price. However, they still aren't the "cheap" option. Right now, they can be used in smaller spaces like conference rooms. Still, price vs. value can make the traditional flat panel displays a more cost-effective display option. This is why the application is so important to consider.


(Related: 7.5 Tips for Purchasing the Best AV Technology)


Direct view LED video walls are an exciting technology that's leading the industry in user experience. They make great centerpieces in high traffic areas, have fantastic brightness and contrast, and can get as big as the checkbook will allow. Look for them as they move into smaller spaces and even the home in the future.


Interested in pricing out your next video wall projects? Get a rough estimate with our Technology Project Budget Calculator.

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About the author 

Sam Lum

Sam is the Director of Audio Visual Engineering. He is a CTS-D who specializes in design engineering and integration of custom audio visual solutions. As a director, he oversees and facilitates the entire AV process, from providing pre-sales support to ensuring that the projects are completed successfully.

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