Ironing Out Some Flat-Panel Issues

Bezels shrink, resolution rises and screens get bigger, brighter, greener With LCD reaching a maturation point in terms of technology and market acceptance, large flat panel displays are comfortably running in sizes from 32 to 82 inches.The next issues for
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Bezels shrink, resolution rises and screens get bigger, brighter, greener

With LCD reaching a maturation point in terms of technology and market acceptance, large flat-panel displays are comfortably running in sizes from 32 to 82 inches.

The next issues for the industry to conquer include bezel width and

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NEC’s ultra-narrow bezels leave more space for images. ease of installation when it comes to video walls, while keeping in mind that now high-definition is the expected resolution. For manufacturers, it’s more about the offerings and solutions available for all the various commercial signage needs in different markets and catering to integrators and customers.

BEZEL-BUB

Focus is now on the bezel, or lack thereof, when these flat-panel displays are used as building blocks to a much bigger display—especially for government or military installations. The goal is for more content as the eye moves across the bezel seam and less pixel loss.

Samsung introduced its new 460 UT series of LCD flat panels this spring. The bezels measure 2.4 mm on the right side bottom. The top and left are 4.3 mm, so when stacked for a video wall there is 6.7 mm of total bezel. That’s key for video walls used in command/control, traffic control, simulations or hybrid modeling applications. Previously, Samsung’s UX series had its thinnest bezel—11mm on the 40- inch panel and 12.5 mm on the 46-inch panel.

“With cubes you can get bezel-less or 1 mm bezels, but there are deficiencies,” said Kevin Schroll, senior product marketing manager at Samsung. “For LCD technology, it’s not just the thin bezel but also the thickness of the panel. The 5 inches of depth on the product makes installation easier than rear projection DLP technology which are very thick.”

With thinner bezels, LCD can stack up against rear projection while enabling less maintenance once the video wall is installed.

“This particular screen…is capable of 24/7 operation,” Schroll said of the 460 UT series. “There is no need for updating any of the rear projection lamps or light sources. It is much more reliable from that perspective.”

One of NEC’s hottest products right now is the Multisync X461 ultra-narrow UN display. “It’s a near bezel-less product so there is less than 7.3 mm between the active areas in the display,” said Jean McLaughlin, senior product line manager at NEC Display Solutions.

HD GOES COMMERCIAL
Andre Floyd is the marketing manager for Sony’s SXRD systems public displays and digital signage. He sees full HD 1080p capability as a key trend.

“Most flat panel displays had been 1366x768 (720p),” he said. “Now following the trend in the consumer world, everyone is moving on to full HD resolution.”

Samsung has a variety of flat-panel display series, from value-based, pricesensitive types of indoor signage to the professional CX (HDTV) that has the look and feel of a consumer unit.

“The bezel has the glossy

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Pro-grade monitors, like this Mitsubishi, are essential for high-end applications. black look with integrated tuner,” said Samsung’s Schroll. “A lot of the commercial accounts are starting to desire consumer panels both because they have an integrated tuner and because of the look and feel for lobbies and high traffic areas. They look better than your basic matte finish commercial display.” Those come with professional grade components and are built for a commercial grade environment unlike a consumer TV.

With panel prices becoming more affordable, and with users learning more about the benefits of true commercial-grade panels, a trend for manufacturers is to offer more commercial-grade panels in commercial-grade monitors for commercial-grade applications.

James Chan is the director of product marketing at Mitsubishi Digital Electronics America Inc. He sees a great return-migration to commercial-grade panels as a trend for professional or business use monitors. “This is basically what integrators wanted all along, but pressures from end-user budgets have forced many to try out TV-grade monitors. Experienced integrators who know what’s best for the customer will appreciate the commercial-grade offering that manufacturers like Mitsubishi have been offering.”

NETWORKING, INTEGRATING
For government and military use, most flat-panel display walls are controlled remotely, so network connectivity is a priority.

According to Sony’s Floyd, another key component in the display world is the ability to manage a lot of displays in disparate locations from a central location over a network. “Having built-in IP capability and being able to just plug a network cable in wherever it is has become very important,” he said.

At NEC, network connectivity on flatpanel displays is now standard on their products. “We offer the ultimate in remote control on the product-through the Ethernet or through RS232,” said NEC’s McLaughlin.

NEC is also in regular communication with its integrators. With its new professional series and X series, new features have been added to make integration easier. The digital technology suite NEC has had for three years has just been enhanced with the “copy”or “clone” function.

“Set up one display with its parameters and then copy that to the next display,” said McLaughlin. “For a wall, it’s extremely important to get as much uniformity as possible on the display. Also, it is best to pre-set up as much as possible ahead of time. If you’re going to someone’s lobby or environment, you don’t want to disturb their space. You want to be in and out as quickly as possible.”

LOOKING GREEN
Sony is very conscious of creating products that use less energy both for the environment and for the operational cost savings for their customers. “We’re using components that use less power for more efficient backlighting,” said Floyd. “The overall design of the product is such that it consumes as little power as necessary both when it’s operational and when it’s in standby mode. These large display products are usually not turned all the way off and many are controlled remotely. “There has to be some amount of power so they can reside on a network,” he said. “It’s more important to use as little power as possible when you’re not actually doing any displaying.”

In the interest of saving power, Samsung has been offering LED technology for consumer TVs for the home. Now that will be migrating to commercial displays in the next six to nine months.

“LED is going to be the next technology that will allow significant power savings,” said Schroll. “It’s an LED backlight system and it is much more energy efficient. It depends on screen size but you could expect possibly 30 or 40 percent power savings relative to a similar sized LCD CCFL.” The panel technology is LCD, it’s just the backlight technology that is LED.

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