In most industries, there are norms and standards applied across all manufacturers. Plumbers all use the same size pipes. Car manufacturers must abide by the same standards for fuel mileage, safety, and more. However, that is unfortunately not the case in the world of digital signage. Each respective manufacturer has the freedom to build LED displays to their own desired specifications. The “standards”, therefore, don’t really exist—size and pixel counts are determined by the manufacturer. So, how can digital signage users make a clear comparison? It’s never going to be apples to apples, but it requires looking further than just cabinet size. Instead, the focus should be on the features that matter the most: pixel pitch, matrix, and viewable area.
Pixel Pitch: Defining Resolution
A pixel is a grouping of three LEDs: green, red, and blue. The term pixel pitch describes the measurement between each cluster of pixels known as a diode. This measurement does have a standard, at least in how it’s calculated. It’s the distance between the center of one pixel to the next pixel’s center, and is applicable in both vertical and horizontal applications. For example, if an LED screen has a pixel pitch of 5-mm, its pixels are spaced 5-mm apart. Pixel pitch is normally within a range of .9-mm to 100-mm.
Two screens may be the same size, say 40”, but have different pixel pitches. Lower pixel pitch allows the viewer to stand closer to the screen to read or interact with it, while higher pixel pitch is for screens being viewed from distances further away. So, back to the 40” screen example. If the screen is used as a menu board directly in front of a customer, the pixel pitch should be low, typically sub 3mm in pixel pitch. However, if the screen is 6’ to 8’ away from the audience, a higher pixel pitch can be employed. Keep in mind pixel pitch is subjective to each viewer, and what looks good to one, may or may not look good to another. However, there is a general guide to follow, and that can be seen here.
The Matrix: Viewable Space Matters
Matrix is another digital display measurement, calculated based on the number of pixels on each LED display tile multiplied across the entire display. In a matrix, LEDs are arranged in rows and columns similar to X and Y coordinates. A 2’ x 2’ display with a 30 x 30 matrix translates to 30 pixels per foot multiplied by 2’, totaling 60 pixels by 60 pixels. To find the number of pixels for the entire sign, multiply 60 by 60, for a total of 3,600 pixels. While seemingly simple math, it’s not always accurate as some manufacturers are less exact in their configurations than their counterparts. And while the difference may be unnoticeable, consumers should be aware that not every LED display is going to adhere to a specific set of standards. All of our products pixel resolutions can be found in their respective specification sheets on our site.
The actual size of a screen has very little to do with how crisp the resolution will be. Therefore, when comparing displays, universal module sizes provide for the most exact viewable space determination for screens with different resolutions but identical matrices. Take a 20-mm display and 10-mm display, each with a matrix of 96 x 144. Because it has more space between pixels, the 20-mm would need to be significantly larger; but the 10-mm display could achieve the matrix at a much smaller size with better resolution.
Look for more than size to pick the best screen
When determining what displays are best, placement is key. Interactive kiosks are another category altogether from large backdrop displays. Work with a professional provider to review pixel pitch, matrix, and viewing area for the most appropriate LED solution for your application. Choosing a LED display partner that will help you understand these factors can greatly save you time, money and headaches throughout the entire process.
At PixelFLEX®, we collaborate with clients for the best LED solutions. Explore options with the PixelFLEX® Product Selection Tool.
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