Research Hub > What is Digital Signage?

October 14, 2022

Article
5 min

What is Digital Signage?

How can today’s digital signage technology enhance your operation? And how can you choose the optimal solution for your business from all the options available?

On one level, digital signage is simply a digital display that replaces a traditional static sign. Today’s digital signage technology, however, offers a world of possibilities beyond anything you can expect from static signs.

What is digital signage?

Digital signage solutions are a network of interconnected digital displays that provide targeted information, entertainment, merchandising and advertising. You can manage them all from a central location and adjust messaging to match the needs of any given audience or time frame.

Digital signage is more than just displays, however. It also requires mounting systems, media players, software, services, cabling, and other essentials that optimize your system and keep it functioning at a high level.

Where can my organization use digital signage?

You can use digital signage anywhere you currently use static signs. But digital displays are so dynamic, flexible and attention-grabbing, you may discover new settings and applications throughout your organization. Here are some places and ways digital displays can connect with your audience and enhance their experience:

  • Self-checkouts
  • Virtual receptionist
  • Wayfinding
  • Emergency messaging
  • Control rooms
  • Window displays
  • Menu boards
  • Digital billboards
  • Outdoor displays and kiosks
  • General information sharing

What are my options for digital signage displays?

Today’s technology offers an abundance of different digital signage types, each offering its own exciting possibilities.

  • Large-format displays (LFDs) - Large, wall-mounted flat screens (up to about 90 inches) that display messages and presentations.
  • Interactive flat panels (IFPs) - Touch-sensitive screens designed for interactive whiteboarding, videoconferencing, screen sharing and more.
  • Mobile interaction displays - Interactive panels that can be moved from one location to another.
  • Video walls - A grid of monitors arrayed across a large area, offering exciting capabilities for dynamic single or multiple images.
  • Kiosk displays - Smaller screens (or clusters of screens) that greet people in a public space with important information, promotional messaging, or commercial interactions.
  • Outdoor displays - Large, weather-resistant signs meant to be viewed from open public spaces such as highways or plazas.
  • Specialty displays - Custom-assembled sets of screens designed to meet the needs of specific locations, situations and audiences.

Not all displays are equal, and it’s critical to choose the best digital signage displays for your locations, situations and audiences.

How do I know which type of digital display is best for my use case?

From LCD to dvLED, we know the technology can be confusing. Here’s a detailed breakdown of the five major types of digital displays.

LCD (Liquid Crystal Display)

With LCD screens, Liquid crystals are sandwiched between two glass sheets. Backlights behind the screen emit white light, and the light can’t pass through the liquid crystals while they’re in a liquid arrangement.

LCD Pros

  • A lower price point due to being on the market for a longer period of time.
  • Extremely high-resolution technology.
  • Can display text, images and video in sharp detail.
  • Bright, affordable and reliable.

LCD Cons

  • Limited size options.
  • Bezels create visible seams when screens are tiled together.
  • Serviceability.

LED (Light-Emitting Diode)

Light-Emitting Diodes produce red, green and blue light. By combining and balancing these three primary colors, the user can produce virtually any color on the spectrum.

LED Pros

  • Long life span compared to other displays, they are highly reliable and low maintenance.
  • Consume less energy and therefore save a lot of power.
  • Guarantees optimal viewing conditions at any time of day.
  • Better contrast and color quality for sharper image.

LED Cons

  • Contrast ratio is not as consistent.
  • More expensive than its counterparts.
  • Higher risk for image retention/screen burn.

OLED (Organic LED)

OLED is a flat light-emitting technology. “Emissive,” meaning the pixels emit their own light and do not require a backlight.

OLED Pros

  • Improved image quality – better contrast, higher brightness, fuller viewing angle, a wider color range and much faster refresh rates.
  • Simpler design that enables ultra-thin, flexible, foldable, and transparent displays.
  • Better durability – OLEDs are very durable and can operate in a broader temperature range.
  • Lower power consumption.

OLED Cons

  • Higher cost to produce than LCD & LED.
  • Poor sunlight readability. Not recommended for outdoor use.
  • Shorter lifetime compared to other displays.

QLED (Quantum Dot LED)

A variation of LED, adding a quantum dot film to the LCD “sandwich,” which enhances the colors and brightness of images. Screens rely on LED backlight.

QLED Pros

  • The application of quantum dot technology can result in the production of large, thin, and flexible LCDs, which allows for thinner and lighter displays without sacrificing screen size.
  • Wider contrast ratio due to their ability to display deep natural black tones.
  • The production of more vibrant and accurate colors offers better color accuracy than conventional LCDs.
  • Energy efficient (uses 3-50% less power than LCDs).

QLED Cons

  • Slower response time makes QLED unsuitable for applications that require high frame rates.
  • “Light bleed” effect, which is visible in certain scenes. There can be a slight haze around bright objects which blurs lines that should be sharp.
  • Poor viewing angle. The color and contrast diminishes when a viewer moves away from the center of the screen.

dvLED (Direct View LED)

Hundreds of tiny LEDs mounted directly to a panel and no liquid crystal or polarized glass is used. “Pixel Pitch” is the distance between LEDs; the lower the pixel pitch, the closer the comfortable viewing distance.

dvLED Pros

  • No bezels creates a seamless video wall, including curved applications.
  • Extremely bright, reliable, energyefficient, and has the best color accuracy and refresh rates.
  • Best choice for large-scale and high-impact visual applications.
  • Serviceability.

dvLED Cons

  • 2-3 times higher cost than LCD.
  • Not the best option for ultra-high resolution application, however, advacements in the technology are quickly closing the gap.
  • High power consumption.

Why do I need commercial-grade mounts?

Just as consumer TVs will fall short if used in commercial signage applications, consumer-grade mounting hardware is also insufficient for commercial needs. Here’s why:

  • Durability. A commercial-grade mounting solution is designed, tested and proven to meet the wear and tear of public, high-volume applications. Consumer-grade mounts are made with less robust materials to lower costs, and will end up costing more in the long run if used commercially. For outdoor displays, choose an outdoor rated mounting solution that’s designed to live outdoors 24/7.
  • Ease of install & maintenance. You never want to get your display mounted on a wall and then have to service it later. Choose a mount that is designed with the installer in mind, with features that will save time and money if servicing is required.
  • Secure design. The mount’s design should never take away from the mounted display, nor should it be easy for the public to tamper with and potentially steal. Choose a mounting solution with features such as superior fastener quality, cable management and security options.
  • Safety. Make safety your top priority — choose mounts with safety certifications beyond the manufacturer’s testing, such as UL, ADA, and OSHPD. You’ll appreciate the peace of mind.

What should I expect from a complete digital signage solution?

You’re not just buying a digital sign — you’re investing in a complete digital signage solution. It starts with the hardware, but goes well beyond.

Hardware

  • Digital signage displays — the screens that will share your message, connect with your audience and create lasting interactions
  • Mounting solutions — professional grade for durability, security and safety
  • Media players — the brains and connectivity behind your displays

Content management

  • Content delivery software — letting you design, adapt and deliver the messaging and interaction your audience needs
  • On premises and/or cloud — your content can live wherever works best for you

Services

  • Pre-sales support — get all your questions answered to your satisfaction before you’ve spent a penny
  • Bundled solutions — stretch your investment with savings when you combine hardware and other key components for your display system
  • Custom configuration — creating the ideal digital signage solution for your unique situation and audience
  • Services and delivery — making sure all your system components are where they need to be, when they need to be there
  • Hardware setup and staging — expert help to set up your digital signage solution on location and ensure it’s working perfectly
  • Hybrid SaaS financing — pay for your content delivery software via subscription to reduce your upfront investment

What’s the advantage of working with CDW for digital signage?

Only CDW can bring together the services and technologies you need to create your ideal digital signage solution. We have the experience and expertise to recommend the display components that bring your vision to life and the industry-leading partnerships with top brands that make state-of-the-art signage technology available within your budget. We can also keep your digital signage performing at a high level for years to come with end-to-end support.

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