Small may be beautiful, but big is better, particularly when it comes to getting noticed. The obvious solution is to buy one massive display, but that isn’t always practical for many reasons, including cost or the space you’ve got to play with. This is where a video wall comes into play. By combining individual digital signage displays, you get a larger and more flexible display.
Benefits of a video wall
There are three primary benefits to choosing a video wall over a single display. First is cost, as it’s often cheaper to purchase multiple smaller displays as opposed to a single, large display. This approach also provides you with flexibility, letting you add extra displays as the budget is made available. And, you can swap out and replace individual smaller displays when required rather than having to replace the entire wall.
A video wall is also more flexible in terms of layout. Instead of being restricted by the single rectangular shape of one display, you can arrange your displays any which way you choose – perfect if your wall is L-shaped or you just want to experiment with an eye-catching shape. And remember, you can arrange your displays both horizontally and vertically for maximum effect.
Finally, multiple units configured to display a single image will provide you with a higher resolution than a single HD display. For example, four full HD displays arranged in a 2×2 grid would effectively give you an Ultra HD 4K display. This can then be scaled up further as your budget allows it – for example, arranging 16 displays in a 4×4 grid would give you 8K.
Most display units can be configured in a video wall, but each may require a thin client if your video is delivered over your network. Two models specifically designed for video wall use are the 46-inch Asus ST467 and 55-inch Asus ST558 models, each capable of supporting video walls up to 10×10 in size. Next, make sure you measure your display space and choose the right model or models that fit in that space – remember you can hang horizontally, vertically and, with the right setup, even diagonally.
Another consideration is bezel width. The bezel (or frame) is the strip of plastic or metal that surrounds each display. The gap between each display in your video wall equals the bezel width of both adjoining displays, so while a 10mm bezel may not seem that wide, it’ll actually mean a distracting gap of 20mm between each display. The Asus ST467 has bezels of just 3.5 mm (top and left) and 2.1mm (bottom and right), while the ST558 is even narrower: 3.3m and 1.8mm respectively. When you come to hang your displays, make sure the narrower bezels are on the inside edges adjoining other displays.
What you’ll need
In addition to your displays, you’ll need a video wall processing unit, one capable of outputting to whatever size grid you set up. There are three basic types: dedicated units with a specific number of inputs and outputs, the latter plugging in directly to individual displays, typically via HDMI cable (no thin clients required).
A more cost-effective alternative is to take a full-size PC and purchase discrete video cards to give you the number of video outputs that you need.
Both options have their pros and cons, but a third also exists: a standard Intel Core i7-powered PC that leverages an existing wired (Ethernet) network to deliver the content to your displays. This uses standard Ethernet cabling and your limitations are the power of your PC and the bandwidth of your network – although even a mid-range PC should be capable of outputting 4K to a nine-display wall. This latter approach pairs with software, such as Userful’s Video Wall, to set up and manage your video wall.
Standard signage displays would each require a thin client, but the ST467 and ST558 come with onboard network connectivity. All you need to do is hook up each display to a Gigabit (or 10Gbps for larger displays) Ethernet switch, which in turn connects to your PC over the network to receive and display the content correctly on your video wall.