Don’t Get Got by LCD “Gotchas!”

February 25, 2019


To a first time buyer of large-format digital display technology, the industry can seem complex. Facing unfamiliar technology and terminology, customers can gravitate towards things they recognize from elsewhere in their lives. In many cases, experience with LCD displays from in-home use can guide buyers to prefer that technology when shopping for a commercial solution. It helps that commercial LCD technology is reputed as slightly less expensive and capable of sharper resolutions for short-distance indoor viewing. With familiarity, price, and close-up clarity seemingly on its side, LCD display technology strikes many customers as the right buy. But is it? The advantages that seem fundamental during the shopping process can reveal themselves as cursory once a display is installed and paid for. Customers drawn in to LCD technology by its short-term accessibility often feel empty-handed once the short-term becomes the long. As manufacturers of a more robust digital display technology, LED, NanoLumens looks skeptically at many of the transient sales pitches advertised by LCD providers. Our expertise and industry experience equip us to see through their claims, but we think customers deserve access to this foresight as well. To make the best decision for their situations, customers need to know what’s coming. So to forewarn buyers for the trapdoors that may arise, here are a few “Gotchas!” that you might encounter when dealing with LCD.

“LCD technology lasts just as long as LED”

While true in certain cases, this claim is incomplete; the lifetime of a display is entirely dependent on how it is used. An LCD display operating at 25% luminance for only a few hours a day will likely outlast an LED alternative running at 40% luminance 24 hours a day, but what good is that piece of knowledge? If you hear a salesperson make a broad claim like this without context, demand that they clarify it. Ask what the conditions of operation are. Ask how long a display might last under your own expected conditions of operation. All else equal, LED displays will last a bit longer than LCD counterparts, but the problem is, all else is rarely equal. Protect yourself from this Gotcha! by demanding context for the claim.

“LCD displays are much less expensive”

Again, this claim is woefully incomplete without context. LCD displays are often cheaper up-front, but what about over time? LCD technology might be cheaper to acquire, but when it comes to total cost of ownership, the advantage dissipates. Don’t get caught holding the bag by an LCD manufacturer who lures you in with an attractive price tag. Just like when buying a cheap car, the first price you pay is rarely the last, so do some digging into where and when hidden costs may arise. You’ll find that the nice price that lured you in initially is something you have to keep paying for over time.

“Your LCD video wall will be uniform across its entirety”

Unlike a seamless LED video wall, an LCD video wall is composed of multiple single displays stacked on and next to each other. This leaves unsightly bezels fragmenting your picture but it also means far more variables when it comes to maintenance over time. While portions of an LED display can be replaced like for like, LCD manufacturers often stop manufacturing certain models once their production run has been completed and sold off. So if an LCD display in your video wall breaks down, you may not be able to replace it exactly. This will leave one portion of your videowall looking and performing different than the rest.

“LCD is always going to be the dominant display technology”

Nope. Over the past few decades we’ve seen each dominant display technology overtaken by a newer and better style. While LCD was once the new display solution on the market, the ascendant technology right now is LED. For such a large expense as commercial video wall technology, customers need to prioritize future-proofing their investment. Purchasing a technology on its way out the proverbial door is essentially guaranteeing obsolescence. LCD displays are always going to be around, but in five years they are not going to be what stands out to audiences. LED is taking over, and customers would be wise to take notice and act accordingly.

To find out how NanoLumens future-proofs your investment to protect you from digital display “Gotchas!” give us a call today!

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