A Guide to Video Walls Pt.1
When considering an investment in a video wall, there are a number of important factors you need to keep in mind. In this guide, we’ll take a look at what constitutes a video wall, some of the technology behind video walls and five types of video walls used for different applications from basic to complex.
WHAT IS A VIDEO WALL?
A video wall is a multi-display wall that’s created by joining multiple screens together to display a larger image or windows of multiple images. The display technology can be LCD or LED panels, tiles, cubes, or projection screens. A video wall can be as simple as one image from a single source stretched across multiple screens. Or it can be used to display multiple images from multiple sources, including live video feeds, on multiple displays. These type of video walls offer greater flexibility, control, scalability and creativity.
While video walls are typically large horizontal or vertical rectangles, they can also be creatively shaped presentations with screens arranged in different configurations. Video walls can be deployed on mobile mounting systems or wall-mounted for permanent installation.
When considering what type of video wall meets your unique needs, you first need to consider how you plan to use the video wall. Do you want a simple digital signage type display, an advanced, large-scale control room wall or something in between? What environment will the video wall be used in: military/tactical, security, utilities, retail, education, transportation, museums, industry, conference rooms and more. The application will drive what type of video wall you choose.
You also need to factor in how you may be using the video wall in the future. Will a basic, fixed wall do the job? Or do you want a wall that offers flexibility and scalability to accommodate future growth? Some video walls are specifically designed for mission-critical 24/7 environments. These are powerful systems with advanced controls and built-in redundancy.
FOUR VIDEO WALL COMPONENTS TO CONSIDER
When planning your video wall, consider what type of display you’re going to use. You can choose from LED and LCD panels, tiles, cubes, and projector systems. Not all displays have the same level of brightness or resolution and these specifications will likely be important decision criteria. The more detail and sharpness you require, the higher resolution you need. You also need to consider the width of the display bezel. Newer displays feature ultra-narrow bezels that result in a more seamless image.
Sometimes video wall processors can be located close to the displays and can be connected directly by video cables. In other applications, the video wall processor may need to be located in a server room or IT closet and the distance is too far to use a standard video cable. In these cases, video extenders are needed to transport the video signals from the video wall processor to the displays. Video extenders might need to be used for cable distances as short as 30 feet. Some IP-based systems use small receivers (one per display) that can be mounted on the back of the displays. In these cases, the signal extension occurs over the LAN and there is no need for additional video extension.
System control for multi-input and multi-window video walls can be performed in several ways. First, there is the video wall software that runs on the processor. This provides both content control and system management. Oftentimes administrators only want to allow users to have access to specific, pre-defined actions or control capabilities and no ability to change system management settings. A simple and often used solution is an external control system that sends commands to the control port of the video wall processor, typically through a serial (RS-232) or Ethernet (Telnet ) port. Some systems also support control via HTTP or XML. Control systems with touch screens can be designed and customized for simple and intuitive operator control.
VIDEO WALL PROCESSOR
There are a number of types of video wall processors to choose from depending on your application today and your future requirements.
First, today, the terms video wall processor and video wall controller are often used interchangeably. Their basic job is to segment video content for each display in a multi-display wall. A video wall processor is a video scaler that makes sure every source signal goes to the right screen with the right resolution. It takes an image and sends it to individual screens for display as one large, cohesive image. A video processor is in charge of taking the various inputs and putting them all together. An advanced video wall processor can take content from multiple sources for display on multiple screens. A video wall processor is similar to conventional video scalers, but with greater input, output and processing capabilities