Direct-View LED Technology…Closer Than We Thought!


Last week, we saw a demonstration in our Los Angeles headquarters of the Samsung IF-series (specifically, the 1.5MM pixel pitch version) direct-view LED, courtesy of our representative, Larry Schilz.

We actually had the display set up and running in our showroom for several days prior, and every time I walked by, I saw the most beautiful, bright images lighting up the room. I found myself looking forward to the Lunch-and-Learn we had scheduled in a few days.

Here are the four things that I thought I “knew” about direct-view LED before I stepped into that training:

  1. Direct-view LEDs are gorgeous;
  2. The recommended minimum viewing-distance from these displays should be ten times the pixel pitch. Meaning, if you have a pixel pitch of 1.5mm, you should view them from at least 15 feet away;
  3. They are super-expensive, with prices rising exponentially as the pixel pitch goes down; and
  4. Because of the above, outdoor signs and specialty indoor applications (e.g. massive art displays in lobbies, signage for retail malls, scoreboards in stadiums – stadia? – etc.) would remain the exclusive domains for the use of direct-view LED for a very long time. While they would EVENTUALLY work their way into traditional applications in boardrooms, training rooms, multi-purpose rooms, lecture halls, and other indoor venues, this would not happen for, perhaps, three to five years.

So we have the Lunch-and-Learn – with surprisingly high attendance from my Sales and Technical teams (I guess I wasn’t the only one interested in direct-view LED) – and we put the product through its paces. Even up close, the image looks surprisingly good, but I notice that the content driving the displays is all video. Aha, there’s the catch!

I ask to see a computer running Office applications as the source, Excel in particular, since this is what would be used in meetings in a boardroom or conference room. Happy to oblige, Larry switches to his laptop, and the image continues to look fantastic. I say, “Oh wait, maybe the fonts are too large. Let’s go with 10-point Arial”. He switches the font on the spreadsheet and the image remains perfectly legible, even from only three or four feet away. Whoa…this is a stunning result! Even someone sitting at the front of a boardroom table looking at detailed spreadsheets is going to be able to read the numbers easily, and they won’t be bothered by overly-pixelated images – the dreaded “jaggies”.

Some other cool things we learned about Samsung’s IF1.5 direct-view LED offering were:

  1. In a full high-def configuration, the image size is on the order of 130” diagonal;
  2. These displays are rated for an incredible 100,000 hours of use in a 24 x 7 environment. Doing the math, that’s over 11 years of full-time operation;
  3. The modular nature of the LEDs means they are relatively easy for our technicians to assemble, and more importantly, for our technicians to service. Each module can be opened and removed from the front, so we won’t need to spend hours servicing the displays if they ever require attention;
  4. Samsung makes a complete solution available as a bundle to make designing and ordering their displays very easy;
  5. To make sure there would be no issues with consistent images if a module or two would fail and need to be replaced, Samsung includes an additional 10% of modules in their bundled solution;
  6. The displays run on standard 110V power. No need to install special 220V circuits;
  7. The overall display solution costs under $100,000 today. This is serious money, of course, but compare that to the hundreds of thousands of dollars customers already spend on videowalls.  And remember the $100,000+ customers used to spend on 103” Panasonic plasma displays that were nearly impossible to get into an elevator and around hallway corners to even make it to the room where they were going to be used.

Given how fast the technology is developing, I think prices are going to follow the typical curve and fall rather quickly in the near future.

The net of all of this information is that there has already been an incredible break-through in this display technology, and it is ready TODAY for use in corporate boardrooms, car dealerships, city council and school board chambers, and other mission-critical meeting and presentation venues.

It turns out, I was only right about one of the four things I thought I knew about direct-view LED – that they create beautiful images.

I’ve always thought we would look back on the days of making videowalls out of numerous discrete LCD displays – with their hideous bezels and resulting cross-hatch of lines through the overall image – and be incredulous that customers and viewers had ever put up with them…I just had no idea that this would happen so soon. The brochure below gives more detailed information.

Samsung LFD – IF-Series Direct View LED Brochure

To learn more about Samsung and other brands of direct-view LED displays offered by LightWerks, and to discuss your options for videowalls and other large applications, please complete the form below or contact your LightWerks representative today!