Direct View LED: A Beginners Guide.

Modern Direct View LED is the most disruptive video technology to come along since the flat panel TV. 

Although the technology has been around for years in large pixel formats (think orange road signs or jumbotrons), with newer ways of manufacturing the LEDs such as SMD, IMD, and COB (more on this later) and the cost to build the technology decreasing exponentially, we are seeing this incredible eye-catching and dynamic video technology become more pervasive in our lives.

It’s no longer just in Sports Arenas, or on Outdoor Billboards that we are seeing Direct View LED. We are now starting to see everywhere in applications such as Houses of Worship, Higher Education, Lecture Halls, Hotels, Ballrooms, Retail, Casinos, Night Clubs and even in high-end homes.

In this blog, we’ll do our best to explain in simple terms some of the most common questions we get when talking about Direct View LED.

What Is Direct View LED? 

It is a video display technology that is sometimes abbreviated as dvLED and uses Light Emitting Diodes to produce the red, blue and green colors typically found in a full color video display. 

What Are The Parts Of A Direct View LED Installation?

Support Structure is the mounting hardware that holds the LED wall in position in the physical installation. This structure is put in place to ensure we can install each LED cabinet to the wall. Size, weight and location are all considerations that come into play on what support structure will be used. Not all are created equal.

Controller The controller is the hardware component that sends your video source(s) to the LED video wall . The controller is also responsible for controlling the configuration of each cabinet, so that instead of being sent to several individual cabinets, the video appears to occupy one seamless video display. The controller is also responsible for scaling the video image to fit the wall. In short, it does all the hard work to take your video source(s) and make them show up the way you want on one large LED Video Wall.

Video Sources are the pieces of content (images, videos, live TV, websites, etc.) that will be shown on your LED Video Wall.

Direct View LED Video Wall is the end result of the sum of all parts including the video source, controller, support structure and Direct View LED cabinets. 

What Are The Differences Between Different Direct View LED Technologies Like DIP, SMD And COB? 

DIP (Direct Inline Package) In a DIP display, the LED diodes are separated from each other and are clearly visible on a single ‘chip’. This is used mostly for outdoor applications.

Advantages of DIP

  • Very bright (up to 12,000 nits)
  • Less expensive than other Direct View LED technologies
  • Robust

Disadvantages of DIP

  • Pixels are far part
  • Poor resolution
  • Poor for close viewing

SMD (Surface Mounted Diode) utilizes a process of mounting each LED chip (pixel) directly on a printed circuit board. The result is a display module that is significantly smaller and thinner than DIP.

Advantages of SMD

  • Great for Indoor
  • Up to 8000 nits
  • High Resolution
  • Many pixel pitches (distance in mm between the middle of one pixel to the next)

Disadvantages of SMD

  • Graded on Quality
    • High Quality, will be more expensive and last longer.
    • Low Quality will look good initially and be less expensive but will deteriorate much quicker. 
  • Best quality is more expensive 

COB (Chip on Board) Utilizes surface bonded solid-state diodes encapsulated in a durable anti-reflective epoxy resin coating creating a high level of physical impact protection. The result is a flat LED surface which allows for pixel pitches less than 1 mm. (see MicroLED)

Advantages of COB

  • Ultra fine pixel pitch (less than 1mm)
  • Super High Resolution
  • Superior Thermal Performance
  • Ability to clean with water

Disadvantages of COB

  • More expensive than SMD

What Is The Ideal View Distance For Direct View LED?

While there are a number of different calculators available from each Direct View LED Manufacturers a general rule of thumb is take your pixel pitch and multiply it by 8 to get the minimum optimal viewing distance in feet. For example:

The pixel pitch (again this is the distance from the middle of one pixel to the next measured in mm) is 3mm

3mm pixel pitch x 8 (the multiplier) = 24 feet 

Your viewing distance from 24’ and back is ideal. Any closer and you will see small imperfections in your dvLED Video Wall such as lines or pixels.

Note: Pixel pitch must be measured in mm, and convert to feet for this  to work.

What Is The Life Expectancy Of A DvLED Video Wall?

Most Direct View LED Companies rate their LED for between 80 000 – 120 000 hours which is about 9 – 13 years of use before the brightness will be 50% of brand new. That’s a long time, but even more, when they calculate those numbers it is with the LED turned up to 100% brightness. Most indoor applications of dvLED are set to about 30% as they are already very bright. If you treat your dvLED Video Wall well and don’t physically damage it, you can expect it to last a very long time. 

What About LCD Video Walls Vs. Direct View LED Video Walls

LCD Video Walls are great in some applications, but as the cost of dvLED comes down, you can expect to see LCD Video Walls get phased out. There are far too many advantages of dvLED over LCD Video Walls such as much more brightness, longer life, deeper color contrast and the list goes on. 

Still not sure what to do? We are always happy to have a no-strings-attached conversation with you to help you make an informed decision.

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