Projectors vs. LED Screens: Choosing the Right Displays for Your Business
Posted on August 6, 2019
As more businesses realize the value of AV technology for wayfinding, permanent installations of LED lighting and projection mapping are becoming popular across multiple industries.
“Permanent LED lighting installations on new buildings and even upgrades of existing buildings are already very popular and can look dynamic and stunning,” says Go2 Productions.
Both LED screens and projection mapping are valid choices for many businesses, and it can be difficult to choose between the two. Evaluating core factors like cost, scale and space constraints can make this decision easier.
Here are some elements that businesses should consider when choosing between a projector and a screen.
Evaluating LED Screens
If you’ve spent any time researching displays, you’ve probably come across LED screens as an option.
“LED wall panels are becoming the new standard bearer in outdoor video display. Their bright image displays and ease of use make them an attractive option for many different settings: store signage, billboards and other advertising, destination signs, stage shows, indoor displays, and more,” says Matrix Visual.
LED screens are by no means a new technology. In fact, they’re often the first thing that many businesses think of when considering a permanent display. Still, understanding how to choose a screen can be complicated.
For example, consider the distance of the screen from the audience. Most experts agree that 1 millimeter of pixel pitch is needed per meter of viewing distance. With a 2 millimeter pitch, viewers would need to be at least 2 meters away.
And even this is in contention. Justin Halls, chief technology officer at Optoma, believes that the optimal viewing point is further away.
“We advise that the optimum viewing distance is roughly the width of the display, so the best place to view a 5m wide display is 5m back.”
Such technical considerations aren’t something that a business owner would consider outright. For integrators, raising these concerns during a pitch can help reduce doubts or hesitation regarding screen size and optimal viewing point.
Moreover, business owners may wonder if the LED monitors are really the best choice for their needs.
“As new technology is introduced to the marketplace, everyone assumes that it is better. But is it really? The pros and cons of LED monitors can help you determine if one fits your needs,” says software and hardware provider CDW. The company highlights multiple strengths of LED monitors, such as their high lifespan and thinner design.
LED screens are often sought after because their lifespan is around 50,000 hours (15 years of use at 10 hours per day). They also have a higher image quality than many other screens. With a thinner design, they provide a more sleek and modern look.
Despite these benefits, some prospects might be dismayed by the high price point. Sean Brown, Online Marketing Executive at Pro Display, notes that some of the drawbacks for video walls include energy consumption. In other words, an LED screen is expensive to both buy and maintain.
How close viewers will get to the display is another concern, says Velocity AV. “If you were to get closer to the display, you would have difficulty reading, and/or trying to determine what the image is on the display.”
These pros and cons are all things to determine when choosing a display. Businesses trying to transform a small space on a limited budget might have better luck with projection mapping.
Understanding Projection Mapping
Video walls are a great way to share information, but their standardized format isn’t ideal for captivating attention. Alan C. Brawn, principal of Brawn Consulting, suggests that the key to getting displays noticed is breaking out of the typical sign shape.
This is where projection mapping comes in. Projection mapping puts the display right on the surface of the location, making a more engaging and exciting display.
While this has typically been used for one-time events in the past, more businesses are using the technology in permanent displays. One of the first permanent projection mapping displays came from Christie Digital, who created a display for a cinema’s facade. This set the stage for what potential projection mapping holds both in retail and entertainment.
“The global projection mapping market is not only anticipated to increase growth in the retail sector but also entertainment. Both retail and entertainment companies use projection mapping to increase customer/viewer engagement and thereby business revenue,” according to research from Market Reporter.
Projection mapping is an exciting and lucrative technology for many, but it isn’t right for every display.
For example, Ascend Studios notes that projection mapping isn’t ideal for bright, sunny locations. If a business wants to display outdoors during the day, projection mapping might not be the right choice.
It’s also important to consider that projection mapping isn’t the proper experience for every audience. For a display meant to inform and educate a customer at a slow pace, for example, a projection mapping experience might be overload.
Whether or not projection mapping is the right fit depends on the needs and goals of the business owner.
LED Screens vs. Projection Mapping
When choosing between an LED screen and a projection mapping experience, there are a number of technical factors to consider.
For more intimate, experience-driven events, projection mapping can take your ideas to the next level. Projection mapping is unique and memorable, encourages participation and even works as a solid marketing push on social media when done correctly.
A small, enclosed space could be entirely transformed with a projection mapping experience. This may go above and beyond what a typical screen could provide, especially since projection mapping experiences tend to incorporate the entire room.
For more information-driven, straightforward experiences, an LED screen can help communicate ideas more effectively. Screens can also be interactive in their own way, which offers an engaging experience for guests. While they may pack less of a wow factor than projection mapping, they can also be versatile.
Brands seeking permanent, outdoor displays would be much better suited with an LED screen, too. That’s because, as The AV Company points out, screens can be more durable and vibrant than projection mapping displays, regardless of conditions.
It comes down to being the right integrator for the job, and knowing how to deal with client expectations.
“Making sure the technology is right is one thing, but it’s also important to be there when things happen after the project and to ensure that the quality expectation by end user does not dissipate,” says Alison Maxson at Absen.
When comparing two powerful technologies — each with their own benefits and drawbacks — there’s no clear winner. As the LED Video Production Coordinator for VER Los Angeles, Jimi Croker says, “It all depends on the look, size of the wall and the atmosphere you are trying to achieve.”
Having a clear idea of what you want to achieve and the mood you want to evoke is important to making the right decision for a permanent display. It’s important to consider these factors early and often, because changing your mind can be costly.