When beginning a digital signage project, you have several elements to decide on, but the most obvious is the screen itself. If you’re not familiar with the technology, the options may get confusing. Commercial screens have been significantly more expensive than consumer-grade screens in the past, but on the surface they may look exactly the same. You question, “Why should I spend the extra money on an identical screen? Are commercial and consumer screens really that different?”
Simply—yes. Although commercial and consumer screens may appear identical, many qualities set them apart besides the price disparity.
Visible buttons on a screen present a temptation to kids of all ages; people will inevitably try to change the channel or fool with the volume on your display. Commercial screens allow to you to lock their buttons, while consumer screens offer no such control and buttons are vulnerable to passersby.
Commercial screens are also more flexible and can alternate between landscape and portrait orientation. Consumer screens only offer landscape capability.
When screens are turned on, they become a significant heat source. Over time, this heat wears on the screens. Consumer screens are only designed to withstand a certain level of heat, and overuse can actually cause permanent damage to the screens. Commercial screens, on the other hand, often contain cooling mechanisms and dissipate the excess heat.
Commercial screens are engineered to work well with PCs and broadcast content for extended hours, while consumer screens are better suited for shorter viewing times and showing TV and video. They cannot hold up to the demands of long operating hours and are intended to be turned off for greater periods of time.
Many popular sites for digital signage like airport terminals or manufacturing floors keep their signs running over 16 hours a day, some almost continuously. Even the laziest couch potato doesn’t average two-thirds of his day watching television. Thus commercial and consumer screens have been designed to fit the habits of their respective markets.
Because commercial screens are made with higher quality parts and designed to endure the wears and tears of long on times, they have a much greater lifespan than consumer screens. They’re built to last, while consumer screens can’t stand up to the rigors of extended use over time.
Commercial screens typically offer robust multi-year warranties. Warranties on consumer screens usually cover shorter periods of time and can actually be voided if the screens are used for more than a certain number of hours a day—like cycling a PowerPoint presentation all day in your lobby.
Consumer screens may be available at much lower costs, but you get what you pay for. Commercial screens really are worth the investment. And the price disparity may not even be that great anymore, as the gap between the two options is shrinking.
So while a consumer screen may currently fit within your budget better, the savings now are not with the added costs in the long run. Invest in a commercial screen and save yourself some time, money, and hassle down the road.