What are Professional Flat Panel Displays and why You Need Them

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By Bruce Genricks (CEO, Electrosonic SA)

In the professional AV industry there is often a lot of questions relating to installing Professional Flat Panel Displays (Commercial Displays) as opposed to Consumer Displays in a commercial environment. Many people are not fully aware of all the differences between the two.

What are Professional Displays? Why do I need one? Why do they cost more?

I will attempt to address some of these questions in this blog to shed a bit more light on it all.

What are Professional Displays?

Professional displays are generally designed by manufactures to be used in a commercial environment and usually include the following features:

  1.  VESA mount – The Flat Display Mounting Interface (FDMI) or VESA Mounting Interface Standard (MIS) is the international standard for wall brackets and stands to be attached to digital displays, as established by VESA (Video Electronics Standards Association). VESA-compliant mounts ensure compatibility with any display regardless of its manufacturer
  2.  Control – a means of controlling the display remotely, usually via RS232 or Ethernet, and various displays from one central location
  3. Firmware – The display will incorporate firmware and on screen display menus which are more suited to commercial use.
  4. Quality – The quality of the display and electronics are generally better than the lower priced consumer panels
  5.  24/7 operation – Professional displays are often used for extended periods and are therefore designated 24/7, 16/7 or something similar
  6. OPS slot – Professional displays often incorporate an OPS slot (Open Pluggable Specification). This slot allows for a variety of optional cards to be inserted. These could be computers (android or windows), HDbaseT receivers or media players
  7. Interactive surfaces – Professional displays often incorporate or have an option to add a touch overlay to make the display interactive. The rest is up to the imagination, as per Coca-Cola’s innovative way of promoting their Deep Spring mineral water brand, through creating interaction with the public: Digital signage brings out the colouring book
  8. Warrantee – Professional displays usually have longer warrantee periods with better after sales service compared to consumer displays. Consumer displays generally have a 1 year warrantee which could be rendered void, if they are used in a commercial environment
  9. Tamper resistant – Professional displays usually incorporate tamper proof controls. This can include hidden controls, USB ports and lockable remote commands
  10.  Orientation – Most professional displays allow the display to be used in either landscape or portrait orientation. This cannot be done with consumer displays as the cooling vents do not allow for it
  11. Image orbiting – When a static image is left on a display for an extended period it can “burn in” also known as image retention. Most professional displays have the ability to slowly and imperceptibly rotate the image so as to reduce this effect
  12. Durability – Consumer displays are not designed for the demanding environments often uncounted in a commercial space. An example of this would be public areas where the display is used for digital signage
Why do I need a Professional Display?

This depends largely on the application that you intend using it for. Let’s say you have decided on Digital Signage to advertise a special or a new range of products in your store. You could use a consumer display, but there are risks which include malfunction, poor picture quality or functionality. Not exactly the image you want to portray for your Brand.

In Irfan Khan’s article, 18 Surprising Statistics About Digital Signage, he states that 55 percent of people looking at digital signage actually remember what they see. Digital Signage is one of the most successful ways to raise brand awareness and drive sales, so ensure your display is professional. Combine that with Crafting a strong Call To Action for your digital signage content, and you have a winning solution for commercial use.

Here are four examples of the risks of using a faulty consumer display in your commercial environment:
  1. If the application is a display in a control room, a failure could have serious consequences especially in a mission critical control room where you need 24/7 operations coverage. Here you would need an in-depth Control Room Design and top quality Video wall displays
  2. During video conferencing, presentations, training or a collaboration environment, failure of a display will waste many man hours and cause damage to your brand and company’s credibility
  3.  If you are selling Advertising space on your Digital Signage display and it fails, it could cost you revenue and time to rebuild relationships with the clients who paid for the exposure
  4.  A failing consumer display also costs you sales when used to market your own products and services. In Irfan Khan’s article referred to earlier, he says: “19 percent of consumers claim to have made unplanned, impulse purchases of products they’ve seen advertised digitally”. If your display is faulty, you lose out on this sales opportunity

Why do Professional Displays cost more?

Professional displays are definitely more costly than consumer displays, that is, in the short run. As per any product, you would weigh up the benefits and reasons why you pay more:

  1. The LCD panels are selected from the manufactured stock. Any slight defects are used to manufacture consumer displays. The rest are then graded for professional use
  2. Commercial Displays generally have better specifications (including calibration) and are made from higher grade materials and components
  3. They are manufactured in much smaller quantities
  4. You benefit greatly from the better warranty, after sales service and support. Consumer displays usually have a short warranty period, and often need to be shipped back to the originating service centre for repairs. This could leave you without displays for a period and turn out costlier for your business in the end

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