“Flat panel or projector and screen – what’s the right display for my conference room?” Often, it’s the first question we’re asked when starting a meeting room project. The answer is not a matter of what’s trending, but which provides the right solution based on the use and goals. To achieve the best outcome it’s important to understand that technology does not drive the best application but instead, the use and goals will drive the technology. While price, ease of installation and total cost of ownership (TCO) are a factor, the answer depends on the project’s objectives (effective, productive collaboration) and on the calculated proper screen size. Once the size is determined and the client and AV Designer have a clear understanding of the goals to be achieved, the type of display best suited for the application can be discovered. Let’s take a look at the individual technologies.
Flat Screen Technologies
Current Flat Panel/Screen display technologies are Plasma, LED, and OLED, with the most common and widely accepted technology being LED LCD. Plasma, hanging on as a consumer “niche” market for video purists who believe it provides the truest contrast and color saturation, is no longer in use in commercial applications. We anticipate however that with the quick adoption of 4K, plasma will be going the way of the cassette tape.
With an origin dating to an Eastman Kodak Lab in 1987, OLED (organic light-emitting diode) has now swept through the flat screen market and is destined to become the next standard. The honor, however, may be short-lived as manufacturers are already looking at direct view micro-LED technology as the next “big thing.”
The same technology that produces the stunning imagery on stadium scoreboards and throughout Times Square, LED Direct View technology is rapidly evolving. Manufacturers have been working on this technology over the past few years and are now able to provide smaller pixel pitch panels with finer, more detailed picture quality. These units are ideal for close viewing, making them an ideal choice for retail signage, auditoriums and Emergency Operations Centers/Network Operations Centers (EOC/NOCs). LED Direct view is also perfect for spaces affected by uncontrolled ambient light. And, as the price continues to settle and the pixel pitch technology becomes smaller (Micro-LED), we will see more direct view applications in board rooms and smaller spaces.
As shared in (Part One), there are best practices for determining the proper viewing screen size in a conference room. Those same guidelines and formulas hold true for 4K displays/projection screens as well but, with the incredible resolution of a 4K display or projector, bear in mind that 4 times the amount of pixels will be displayed (imagine duplicating that screen into a 2×2 grid on the viewing surface). What effect does this have on the image? While the resolution is incredibly true and sharp, font size and detailed content such as spreadsheets, will need to be enlarged for effective viewing.
There are three main types of projection systems in use: traditional lamp (high-intensity discharge lamps, or HID) DLP, LCD projectors and the newer laser phosphorous projectors (laser projectors). Laser projectors are quickly gaining momentum in the industry because of their picture quality, long-life lamps and energy efficiencies. A laser projector can run 20,000 hours before displaying a noticeable degradation of light output, whereas a HID lamped unit’s degradation may be detected as early as 1500 hours. HID lamp changes are usually made every 2,000 to 3,000 hours so, despite the added initial cost of laser (approximately 30% over that of HID), it yields a lower TCO. LED lighted technology is still available, but its lower lumens are more appropriate for home theater than a bright office environment.
Which is the best solution for your space, a flat panel, projection screen or a combination of the two? Give us a call. We’ll “measure” your needs, present your choices and design the best solution for your space.