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Big LED’s and videowalls – or optical projection displays?

Thanks to contrast-enhancing screen technology, projection is a very cost-effective alternative to LED displays in many brightly lit indoor environments.

Direct view LED displays are great for large venues with high levels of ambient light. But there is an alternative way to deliver high quality images on big displays! A way that will not only save you time and money, but also provides better image appearance at the same pixel density no matter the image size, near to zero pixilation, comfortable brightness and better image-/colour uniformity: the optical projection display.

An optical projection display solution comprises a powerful projector and an advanced optical projection screen with a built-in high-contrast filter that makes the display super tolerant to ambient light. LED tiles do not have a light rejecting ability so to make contrast the brightness needs to be increased to an uncomfortable viewer level. The combination of a powerful high lumens projector and an optical dnp Supernova Screen delivers excellent contrast and the right brightness that can match LED displays in most indoor situations.

More cost-effective than LED’s

LED solutions deliver super-high image brightness, which is good for outdoor-use but creates an uncomfortable viewing experience for indoor-use – especially for longer periods of time. For human vision images are not supposed to exceed 3x the ambient environment. Beyond that the eye is fatigued quickly and can even be painful. You can choose to lower the LEDs displays brightness, but you will also lose the contrast advantage and the pixels will also become much more apparent.

In terms of costs, the initial investment for a direct view display LED wall is very high, due to the high cost of the panels and a much more complex installation. At the same time LED generates more heat, use significant more power and requires much more ventilation and frequent service than a projection screen. 

Image uniformity

Due to the fact that a LED displays have very small areas that light up compared to projection, and there is a much higher chance the image will be interrupted with black lines between the LEDs (pixels). This greatly increases the viewing distances, make the pixels stand out individually, making the image a “picture of dots”, also described as pixilation.

Most LED’s offer a relatively low resolution compared to an optical screen. In fact, you will need a 7.6m [25.2ft] wide and 4.3m [14.2ft] high wall to create a 4K image with a 2 mm pitch LED, which is a massive 33m[357ft2] display.

Another potential issue with the multi-panel LED displays is the mechanical alignment between LED tiles, which can result in disruptive lines in the image. On top of that it’s not so rare to see a single panel that has either gone dark or shows colour shift or is missing a colour channel altogether. Image quality from a projection is simply far superior in uniformity and colour rendition across the entire image since the image comes from a single source rather than from a large quantity of self-driven cabinets.

An optical projection display is simply much cheaper to acquire and maintain, they do not need advanced controlling software to run, they are relatively easy to install, colour uniformity is much better and the maintenance is much easier.

Screen options

dnp offers two extra-large screen options for big projectors with standard throw (LTR from 1.5 and up).

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