If you feel like advancement in display technology changes so quickly it’s hard to keep up, you’re not alone… And, for a moment, consider the lingo required to conduct business in our industry and you’ve just added to the ever-increasing challenge of remaining current for an AV professional. So what’s all the fuss about LED that seems to keep popping up in advertisements, industry news and updates, new product launches and promotions? If you’ve seen terms like OLED, SMB, LED backlights, direct-lit LED backlight, LED edge lighting, and CCFL and wondered what the real differences are in emerging technologies and what they mean to you – the pro AV integrator and how they can make the difference in your bottom line, read on.
To give you an idea of where things are headed, we looked at the leading display manufacturers such as Samsung, Panasonic, NEC and LG, who are introducing LED LCD TVs, as well as NanoLumens, an innovative industry newcomer specializing in large format LED displays.
OK, so let’s review some history. LED technology, light emitting diode, is actually not a new concept; it was initially introduced in the early 1900’s for use as indicator lights for machinery and equipment. LED is an electronic component that when proper current is passed through it, it emits different colors. It wasn’t until more than 30 years later when LEDs were used to form a display by placing a number of LEDs together to present a visual display. More common uses of LED technology in its raw form can be seen in outdoor billboards and other outdoor displays in today’s market.
A new manufacturer on the scene, NanoLumens, has patented a form of LED technology for their solutions which use SMD or surface mount diodes in which one pixel is made up of three bulbs, red, green and blue to make up its visual displays. And, if you’re looking for flexible digital displays in any shape and size that can form to any curvature, you’ll be hard pressed to find anything more impressive on the market than NanoLumens’ NanoFlex Series, (engineered and assembled in the US).
OLED technology, or organic light emitting diode, has a large place in the market, however these are used mainly in small electronics such as cell phones and computer screens rather than large format displays.
So what are some of the benefits of LED technology and why are they now being introduced in professional displays in various forms including LED backlight, direct-lit LED backlighting, etc.? Unlike NanoLumens’ solutions which expose the LEDs to make up the visual display area, TV manufacturers have enclosed LEDs within the housing of their displays. Benefits of LED technology include: brightness, energy efficiency, long life cycle compared to CCFL (fluorescent) backlights consuming considerably less power than traditional LCD solutions, in addition to color and contrast producing richer hues and wider range of the NTSC color gamut for a more pleasing viewing experience, or from the end user’s perspective, a better ability to communicate their message and engage their prospects and customers.
So just what is direct-lit LED backlighting, you ask?
The majority of displays available today feature edge LED backlights, which is where the LEDs are placed just around the edge of the display, typically just on the sides of the TV. LEDs are then diffused to help spread the light across the entire panel. The goal is for the waveguide to evenly distribute the light throughout the entire panel.
LED backlighting had been introduced in full-array configurations where rows of LEDs are distributed across the entire back panel of the TV. LEDs are then divided into various zones which can be controlled individually using a feature called local dimming; this can result in improved contrast levels in many cases.
Direct-lit LED backlight models coming to market in the year ahead are replacing CCFL technology panels with many display manufacturers. At just 3.7” inches in thickness, Samsung’s new MD-Series which features direct-lit LED backlight technology uses fewer LEDs to provide adequate light coverage across the panel and will replace their current FP-Series product lineup (CCFL) at the same price points. This is a dramatic move on Samsung’s part and makes a strong statement about where the industry’s heading with Samsung leading the way. What’s the obvious advantage for resellers? Integrators will now be able to get into LED and enjoy the benefits without the price premium that has been associated with Samsung LED LCD models to this point. Resellers can look forward to availability on the new Samsung MD-Series beginning in June, but don’t worry, the ME-Series Ultra Slim solution is not going away, and featuring edge-lit LED technology in its bezel, at just 1.2” thick, the ME-Series will be available at a slight price premium to the MD-Series.
It is clear that LED technology certainly has a place in our market and whether you’re working on applications that present environments with high ambient lighting, challenging mounting conditions, demanding performance requirements, low total cost of ownership or minimal power consumption to support green initiatives, we offer a variety of LED and LED LCD display solutions to help you accomplish your installation and profit objectives.
As a value-added distributor and the fastest growing distributor in the professional A/V space, education is a key component to our success, and yours. Not only do we have a very focused approach at offering training resources to our reseller partners, through our Webinar Series, the Almo Edge buying program where points earned for purchases go towards training courses, and lastly, as the only distributor officially sponsored by InfoComm, the variety of training courses offered at our traveling E4 AV Tour events (www.e4avtour.com) are sure to engage everyone with a range of courses from basic to more advanced, (many of which carry InfoComm CTS Renewal Units), count on Almo to keep you informed of the latest industry trends and technology advancements.
For more information on LED technologies or to confirm which solution is right for your specific application, the Almo sales team and business development managers are here to help support your efforts through a variety of resources. Our team receives regular product training and updates to “product roadmaps” of leading display manufacturers to ensure you have a resource to call on when you need answers.
We look forward to working with you to support the growing needs of your business.