video wall experience

How Can A Video Wall Processor Improve Customer Experience?

Digital displays are everywhere these days. Lots of us walk around with HD screens in the palm of our hands. This isn’t a new trend. Even as digital signage began to boom over a decade ago, many could see the trend: if displays are everywhere, it means that individual digital displays just won’t have the impact they used to. A big flat screen display hung on a wall just isn’t going to attract attention the way it might have just a few years before.

And so those who wanted to stand out from the crowd, attract attention to their message, get noticed by the public, engage with their audience invested in video walls. Look around an airport, a mall, even a sports venue and you’ll see that video walls are everywhere. Now that most commercial video wall displays come with built-in scalers and have the ability to daisy-chain, there’s been a boom in small and simple video walls. The whole point of a video wall is to grab people’s attention, and unfortunately a 2 x 2 (or even 3 x 3) grid video walls, with resolutions of 1080p (or even 4K) are now far too commonplace to generate the kind of impact customers are looking for. Digital displays are everywhere, but so are these simple video walls.

This is where the video wall processor comes in. Every AV and digital signage professional knows customer engagement in the digital space is about attracting attention to your display, and that means standing out from the crowd.  Everyone’s using the internal daisy chain solution built into commercial video wall displays so to attract attention, to truly engage your customers, you now need to think about adding more capability, more flexibility, more options to your video wall and that means a video wall processor–an external device that renders the inputs and outputs and adds extra value over and above what the displays themselves can do.

Here are some key things to know about video wall processors. First, they allow you to go beyond the current standard video wall sizes and deploy more than 2 x 2, 3 x 3 etc. Some solutions even support up to 100 screens.

Next, a good video wall processor will allow you support aspect ratios beyond standard 16:9, or 4:3. This isn’t all video wall processors and controllers, but the good ones will.  Check and be sure before investing.

Video wall processors also ensure you can have high resolution content visible from as far as possible, but looking good from as close as possible.  You want people to be able to come up close to the video wall and still be able to see the image crisp and clear. In those case you need to go beyond HD content (even beyond UHD 4K) to source resolutions of up to 6K, 8K and beyond. The only way to get this kind of resolution is with a video wall processor.

Finally, a good video wall processor will give you the power to deploy video walls with layouts other than the grid such as offset displays with unusual gaps between displays or with angled displays.

Ultimately, a video wall processor can be combined with a video wall controller and provide more advance controlling capabilities to your video wall system. For example, you can have interactivity features where the content, or layout (or both), on a video wall can be easily switched using web-enabled mobile devices, with just a single touch.

I’ve just listed out a lot of features and functionality and I can hear your skepticism: can a video wall processor do everything I just mentioned? And if so, surely it would be expensive. The truth is that there are actually cost effective options that allow you to deploy high-quality, high-performing video walls. The key thing to look for is a solution that leverages standard technology and isn’t built on proprietary hardware. There are software and PC based solutions available today that drive video walls with great power and flexibility at a surprisingly reasonable price

When Do You Need A Video Wall Controller?

There are many approaches to drive video walls. Each has advantages and disadvantages. Video wall controllers are required when a customer needs more power and flexibility behind their video wall. They used to be a substantial cost component of the video wall, but have recently come down in cost to the point where they are much more affordable. In this article I will shed some light on those situations where it is helpful to include a video wall controller in your deployment.

To start, we need to understand how a video wall controller is different than a video wall scaler (tile-matrix scaler). A controller provides full control over a large number of displays to output perfectly synchronized content in a variety of configurations. A scaler, however, splits a single video stream into a grid and is limited in both resolution and layouts options. Many high-end, zero-bezel displays include a built-in scaler, but the end user is limited to using only compatible displays in a supported arrangement.

Today’s scalers have a variety of limitations, including the size or resolution of content they can handle. Even the best scalers are limited to 4K content resolution, and many handle only 1080p.

This leads us to the first instance where your video wall deployment needs a video wall controller. It’s especially true if now or in the future you want to scale beyond 4K source content to 6K, 8K or higher.

Another limitation with scalers is that they are limited to a single source. This brings us to another scenario where your deployment will need a video wall controller: If you want to allocate different sections of your video wall to different sources. These are often called “video wall zones” or “preset video wall zones.”

As demand for video walls grows, so too does demand for video walls with unique layouts, look and feel. If you are doing an irregular aspect ratio grid layout, such as a 1×5 or 1×10, many scalers do not handle this at all, and those that do are still limited to the original source resolution and look very poor quality.

In addition, the more advanced video wall controllers can also handle artistic, mosaic-style video walls. For a video wall with a non-standard configuration, a video wall controller is necessary because scalers are limited to only being able to output content to a grid-configured video wall — portrait or landscape.

Video wall controllers also give a lot more, well, control. If your project will require interactive content (i.e. a mix of HTML5, live TV, videos, etc.) or juggling multiple inputs and content sources simultaneously with ease and simplicity, a video wall controller is definitely needed. The best video wall controllers give customers an intuitive, GUI interface for management and configuration, as well as access to intuitive APIs to provide even greater control and flexibility.

The reason people have traditionally avoided video wall controllers has been the added cost and complexity. Traditional video wall controllers often cost up to $50,000 or even $100,000, and are often complex to order and integrate. Video wall controllers have historically required specialized hardware and software and have been complex to setup. However, there are now video wall controllers that eliminate these problems.

Instead of requiring a bulky proprietary appliance to handle demanding scenarios like 8K source content, video wall solutions turn a standard PC into a video wall controller. Software-based solutions also focus on making set-up and configuration simpler using intuitive GUIs.

If you want more control on your video wall and need more of the value beyond synchronizing a series of displays, you’ll need a video wall controller. Purchasing one won’t blow your project budget. It can save you money by reducing the cost of your displays. There are now choices for every budget.

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