4K and beyond – what screen resolution do you need for your digital signage?

Before you buy any digital signage, one of the first things you need to do is work out what screen resolution you need. Full HD is the most common resolution, still, although 4K displays are starting to come through in volume. But, what about 8K and beyond? Should you wait until these displays start to launch? Here, we’ll help you make the right choices.

Understanding resolutions and screen sizes

Screen resolution is quoted as the number of pixels, horizontal x vertical. A Full HD display has a resolution of 1,920×1,080 pixels, while a 4K display has a resolution of 3,840×2,160. And an 8K display gives you 7,680×4,320 pixels.

The typical way that this is shown is with a chart like the one below, which shows the relative resolutions available. This works to a degree, but the chart makes it look like 8K displays are four times bigger than 4K ones. While this could be true, you can have different resolutions in the same size screen.

What’s important to remember is that the pixel count doesn’t change as a screen size increases. So, a 42in Full HD display has the same number of pixels as an 84in Full HD screen. The only difference is that the larger screen uses pixels four times the size, so it will look blockier up close. Knowing this can help you make the right decision when choosing a screen. In short, the bigger you go, the larger the pixels go and the blockier the content will look.

As you move up screen size, it’s worth paying attention to resolution, as upping this can help maintain quality. For example, having an 84in 4K display is like having four 42in Full HD displays stitched together. In other words, the pixel size is identical here, so you get the same image detail when viewed from the same distance.

Opt for a 42in 4K display over the same-sized Full HD screen, and you’ve got four-times the resolution packed into the same physical area, making for a far sharper and more detailed picture.

How size makes an impact

Opting for a 4K display, gives you more flexibility. If you buy a larger display than your existing digital signage, you can recreate your messaging at larger sizes without losing detail. Or, you can choose to use the screen resolution to add extra detail, without downgrading quality on your previous screens.

If you stick at the same, or similar screen sizes as your Full HD displays, then 4K makes things sharper and more detailed, which can help attract attention or just make your messaging easier to read.

Ultimately, it’s the type of content that you want to display that should help you choose. With menus, for example, upgrading from Full HD to 4K will make text sharper and easier to read, which can lead to higher sales and better customer interaction. In the image below, for example, we’ve got two images of a bee, displayed at the same size, but designed to show the difference between Full HD and 4K displays. As you can see the top picture (a 4K representation) has far more detail than the image shown at the same size on a Full HD display (bottom image).

Replacing older digital signage that’s primarily used for large-format text and image advertising, such as a special offer, will see less of an impact by upgrading to 4K. The example below shows how text could look on the same size displays on a 4K display (top) and Full HD display (bottom).

Don’t forget the viewing distance, either. Most print billboards are fairly low resolution, for example, but that doesn’t matter at the distances they’re viewed from. Similar rules play a part with digital signage: a large screen or video wall designed to be viewed from a long way can get away with less resolution; for up-close impact or where fine detail is required, higher resolution works better.

It’s important that all of your digital signage is designed for the final resolution. While 4K displays can upscale Full HD content or lower, they work best with native content, designed and created to work best on the high-resolution screens.

What about 8K

8K displays are starting to arrive, offering a staggering resolution of 7,680×4,320 – that’s four times the number of pixels as in a 4K display. Currently, these screens are hugely expensive, but as the price comes down 8K could have a big impact on digital signage.

As we’ve seen from our examples, 8K’s higher resolution will give even more detail than 4K, which will make it a real winner where this is required, such as in restaurant menus. And, the resolution is so high that for larger screens, you can preserve detail, creating impactful digital signage that looks better than real life.

For today

For now, the choice is really one between Full HD and 4K. Full HD displays are currently cheapers (although the price difference is getting closer) and are a good choice where you can get away with smaller screens or you’re showing low-detail content. 4K makes a better option where you want larger screens or you need to display a lot of information. 8K remains an interesting technology for the future. Check out ASUS’ range of professional displays for all of your digital signage needs.

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