DEFINITIONS TO HELP YOU UNDERSTAND YOUR INVESTMENT
A LED display is a variable message center utilizing Light Emitting Diode Technology. LED displays can be single or double-sided, single color or full color, and come in many sizes.
A pixel is a point of light. An LED display is made up of an array of pixels, multiple points of light appearing as dots. These pixels light up in different combinations, forming text, images and video clips on the display. A pixel can be as small as one LED or it may contain a cluster of LEDs that act as a unit.
DIP Technology Vs. SMD Technology
In a DIP display, the LED bulbs are separated from each other and are clearly visible. From every angle of the screen, the red LED, green LED and blue LED is visible. The DIP module is put together by using three bubble shaped color LED bulbs that are joined with two connector feet. Sockets or through-hole soldering is used to mount these DIP modules. With sockets, replacing the device is very simple and also there is no risk of damage caused by overheating (which occurs during soldering). After the assembling of DIP outdoor modules is done, heat-dissipating silicone is used to weather proof each module. The LEDs used in this module are also in relief; this means that a non-homogenous contrast is sometimes exhibited as compared to some SMD modules which are flat and do not reflect any external light. The DIP technology also proposes a “virtual pitch” technology. This consists of adding a fourth white LED to emphasize the definition and visibility of the screen. A DIP module digital screen will ideally produce about 4 lumens per LED. Because of these features, the DIP module does not allow visibility to go low and makes it a more globally robust option – hence being perfect for outdoor solutions. When compared to SMD modules, DIP is always the better option for outdoor use.
SMD (Surface Mounted Diode) Surface Mounted Diode Size In an SMD module, the three colors of LED bulbs are encapsulated into one slim case which is directly soldered onto a circuit. The red, green and blue LEDs are visually regrouped into a single point, producing either the color black, or white. This point is either a circle or a square, which has a diameter of just a few millimeters. These modules can be made to as small as 1mm in size. The LEDs are not directly visible in this module. The best screens in use today have reached a distance of about 1.6 millimeters between each point on the screen. Because these diodes are mounted onto only one surface on the board, they are small and can be placed closer together. Closer placement results in a much higher resolution as compared to DIP modules and this is why SMD modules are more popularly used in indoor solutions. Although this module is beginning to develop focus on high definition outdoor digital devices, the main focus remains on indoor LED signs. Pros and Cons: The technological advancements have played a major role in reducing the price gap between SMD and DIP modules. Yet, DIP modules are still the cheaper ones and are mostly used in outdoor LED signs. Due to the construction of DIP modules, they are better at withstanding various weather conditions and hence are preferred for outdoor LED solutions. For indoor use, SMD modules are better because the smaller pixels provide better color and amazing quality of text and images. The colors produced are much crispier, closely resemble the intended color and have better color uniformity. The maintenance required with SMD modules is higher and they have a shorter lifespan because of the heat dissipation issues in the way these modules are constructed. The pixels in SMD modules are dimmer and consume more power; roughly about 6500 NITs. Compared to this figure, DIP modules average at about 12000 NITs. The SMD chips are coated in white at the back and this affects the outcome of the color on the screen. For example, darker colors may have more of a grayish effect on SMD module screens. SMD modules are lightweight, have a much wider viewing angle and are more energy efficient. As a result of its features and being much less pixelated, SMD modules have a more natural end result (look and feel of an image on a digital display). With the use of efficient quantity mass production, cost savings is possible with SMD modules as labor costs will be reduced and scale of production will be larger. So although the costs are still slightly higher than DIP modules, the trend towards competitive pricing is on the rise. Whatever the technology used in your digital display, one thing is common – each pixel consists of three LEDS: a red, green and a blue. There is no obvious solution to who wins the SMD vs. DIP match. It is only concluded that SMD modules are more often used in indoor solutions to obtain finer definitions. On the other hand, DIP modules are more robust and ideal for outdoor applications. Once the maximum viewing distance for looking at each of these screen types is reached, there is really no visible difference between the two technologies.
The matrix of a sign is the number of pixels vertically by the number of pixels horizontally. For example, if a sign has a matrix of 32×96, this means it has 32 pixels from top to bottom and 96 pixels from left to right. A larger matrix allows more text and more of a graphic to appear on the display at the same time. The matrix may also be referred to as the resolution of the display.
The pixel pitch or center-to-center measurement is the distance from the center of one pixel to the center of the adjacent pixel. Pixel pitch is typically measured in millimeters, such as 4mm, 7.62mm, 9.5mm or 15mm.
A nit is a unit of measurement for the brightness over one square meter of a display. This value takes into account the number of LEDs per pixel, pixel pitch and millicandelas. Your sign’s nit rating can help you determine which sign is a better value when comparing products and companies.
Viewing Angle & Viewing Cone:
The viewing angle is the maximum angle that text and images can be seen on a display. A narrow viewing angle causes the text or image to “disappear” from the display as a viewer moves away from a position directly in front of the sign. The viewing cone is simply double the amount of the viewing angle.
Parent/Parent and Parent/Child Configuration:
On a two sided display, the sides can be configured to operate independently or together. In a parent/parent configuration, the two sides can either show the same message or can show different messages at the same time. In a parent/child configuration, one side always sends a signal to the other; resulting in the same message on both sides.
A grayscale display only shows shades of a certain color, usually red. Our grayscale displays show 256 shades, with two LEDs per pixel for most modules, our grayscale displays are typically brighter as well.
A full color display uses a combination of red, green and blue LED light to create any color. Combined with the overall intensity of the full pixel, an enormous range of colors are possible. Our full color displays are capable of showing 281 trillion different color combinations. With the advent of SMD technology, combining red, green and blue LED into 1 surface mounted device, allowing a smaller and closer matrix, increasing the resolution and quality of image output. The viewable angle of the image also increase due to the flat construction of the display surface.
WHY DOES BRIGHTNESS MATTER?
There are a few important things to consider related to sign brightness:
#1. How well and how long it will compete with the sun. – Our LEDs are among the brightest available to provide you with a sign that will be visible 24 hours a day for years into the future.
#2. How well a sign competes with the sun. – Ensuring that your sign is readable during the day is vital to the success of having passers by read your sign. The brighter the display, the better able it is to compete with the sun.
#3. How long a sign competes with the sun. – an LED does not burn out, however they do grow dimmer with use. The closer an LED gets to 1500MCD brightness, the less effective it is at competing with the sun. Starting with a brighter display ensures that your investment will be readable for many years into the future.
HOW TO CHOOSE A SIZE
One of the most important decisions when purchasing an LED Digital Display Screen (DDS) is determining the appropriate resolution (pixel pitch) and physical size. These are influenced by several factors including how the sign will be used, where it will be placed, distance to the audience and the speed of the audience to name a few. Please speak with your sales representative to better understand which display is suitable for your application. The recommended minimum and maximum viewing distances of an DDS are based on two characteristics of the display: The pixel pitch and the display’s physical size.
LED (DDS) Recommended Viewing Distances
Use these calculations to help you select the best size and pixel pitch for your specific location.
Pixel Pitch is the distance from the center of one pixel to the center of the adjacent pixel. A DDS’s minimum viewing distance is driven by this measurement. If the DDS is viewed at a distance closer than the “Minimum”, messages will still be readable, but will appear pixelated.
4mm Pixel Pitch = 4 Meters (~13 ft)
7.62mm Pixel Pitch = 7.62 Meters (~25 ft)
9.5mm Pixel Pitch = 9.5 Meters (~31.17 ft)
15mm Pixel Pitch = 15 Meters (~49.21 ft)
The practical maximum distance a sign can be seen from is 10 times the sign’s square footage. Any viewing distance greater than this calculation will decrease the readability of the sign and its ability to attract attention.
For example: 4′ x 6′ sign = 24 square feet so 24 x 10 = 240 feet
CLOUD BASED SOFTWARE CONTROL
What is “True” Cloud-based LED Sign Software?
Some LED sign companies will claim to have “cloud” software, when nothing could be further from the truth! Because there’s confusion around this term, it can be easy to overlook some critical differences between software that truly lives “in-the-cloud” and others that merely use the internet to communicate.
You should consider the following factors as a part of a true cloud-based product:
There is nothing to install – A tell-tale indication that a sign doesn’t use cloud-based software is if you have to download and use a desktop application to control it. This requirement will prevent you from being able to access and change your sign from any location. You will need to keep track of software activation keys should you ever switch computers, and manual updates may be required to keep your computer and sign in sync. Question to ask: “Is there anything I have to install on my computer to control the sign?”
It doesn’t use intermediate software – Related to the above, some companies will just provide a web browser interface that communicates to their regular sign software. This requires that the computer with the installed software is always up and running, 24-hours a day, which adds a point-of-failure that can quickly turn into a disconnected sign. Should there be a power interruption, software crash or simply a turned off machine, it will prevent you from updating your sign. Question to ask: “Am I controlling the sign directly or through another piece of software?”
It uses an industry-leading cloud host – Some companies will host their application on their own personal servers to save money. As more users and signs are added, these private servers cannot scale quickly to meet demand. These companies are also on their own when it comes to hackers, cyber-attacks, backups and server availability. The best solutions use industry-leading cloud platforms such as Amazon AWS and its many specialized services. Question to ask: “What company do you use to host your cloud-based software?”
Diagnostics and support are done over the internet – As with any technology, there can be times when some support is required. Many LED sign applications are only used to place new messages on the sign. This is fine during normal operation, but if things do go wrong it could require support access to your private network and the installation of diagnostic software. This increases the time that it takes to get your sign back up and running. Question to ask: “Do you also service and monitor your signs through the internet?”
Say No to Screen-Sharing Programs – Occasionally, sign companies without cloud-based software will suggest an alternative: install the LED software on a computer that is networked with the sign, and use a screen-sharing program like GoToMyPC to access the software. While this can technically allow you to control the sign in specific situations, there are many large drawbacks: Screen Sharing for LED Software You can’t use it from anywhere – Most screen-sharing software still requires you to download and install a program on the remote computer that you want to use. If you need to control your sign from a friend’s computer or an internet café, you’re out of luck. You can’t use it on a mobile device – Screen-sharing applications typically don’t have the ability to connect with a phone or tablet. Even if they did, controlling a full-sized desktop application on a small screen is nearly impossible. You can’t turn off or lock down the computer – The computer connected to your sign needs to be on 24-hours a day with the screen-sharing program always running. This provides another way for intruders to make their way into your private network, and another failure point in communicating with your sign. You can’t give other users their own separate access – If you want to have others help manage sign content, it would require giving them access to the computer running the software. Unless you only use this computer for controlling the sign, you could be unknowingly sharing sensitive information or access to other parts of your network.
ULTRA THIN – MODULAR DESIGN PANEL SYSTEMS