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Large outdoor screens words and descriptions.

The unique advantages that LED screens are now offering are drawing the crowds back to venues that have been losing audiences in huge numbers. This is the driving factor, and key point. Is your event an attention grabber, or sleep inducer? In the following article, we'll explain some of the terminology, along with a few good rules of thumb, which should help you make an informed choice about LED screens.

Defining large screen video displays

The true purpose and reason for having a large-format video display is to show full-color moving images to large crowds. In the past, successfully building very large or very bright video displays has been difficult, as the only real solution, projection, suffers from a lack of brightness and contrast in high brightness environments.

If you think back, a very famous consumer electronics company offered the first real alternative using CRT-based solutions. They were heavy and power hungry and suffered limitations on the resolution they could achieve, and all this for a king's ransom.

The relatively recent (since 1996 onwards) full-color LED video display technology has at last made large, bright video displays practical and affordable. Generally though, large displays are used in locations where a group of people must be able to see the display, such as sports arenas, pop concerts and shopping malls.

These displays are generally large (from 1.5 m to 30 m wide or bigger) and naturally very bright - to overcome high ambient light such as television lighting or direct sunlight. Let us look at the major large-screen display technologies in some detail.

LED technology

In the late 1990's, with the discovery of the stable and bright blue LED, video screen technology using LEDs was born. These LED video screens rapidly advanced beyond CRT's for resolution and brightness, for significantly less cost.

Add this to the fact that LED displays consume far less power, and are considerably lighter than their CRT-based counterparts, and they occupy less volume (they are less than half as deep). All of these aspects made them very attractive in the AV rental and fixed installation market. CRT technology had been limited to three principal vendors primarily due to the complexity of the manufacturing process.

LED technology is much more accessible - resulting in many more manufacturers (one industry report cites as many as 50 manufacturers although there may be this many in China alone!). An unfortunate side effect of this diverse manufacturing base is the proliferation of some poorly designed product and some short-term manufacturers who may sell only a few systems before vanishing.

One key to choosing an LED screen is to select a manufacturer with a long track in full color LED screen, and who is committed to the industry. If you wind up owning an unsupported “orphan” product, you can't say you weren't warned!

In particular, beware of a new LED video product from a company that has only previously done animated LED signs, and has no video experience. Video demands very high speed processing, currently beyond the capabilities of some PC based processor, and the results are often very disappointing.

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