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4K: A Sight for Sore Eyes at DSE

Mar 15, 2013 4:36 PM, By David Keene, Executive Editor at NewBay Media

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LG’s IPS technology is impressive for its deep deep blacks and high contrast ratio.

At the Digital Signage Expo in Las Vegas, that took place Feb. 25-28, who walking the show floor could not love the new 4K resolution LCD panels on display from a several of the major players? But does digital signage “need” 4K? Yes, it does. Every vertical, no matter what part of the AV universe it’s wedged in, needs better resolution.

Then, as now, higher resolution always wins. Not just because more resolution is always better than less (especially with digital signage because the ambulatory audience can literally walk right by or up to a screen, where the higher res really pays off), but because the much larger consumer display world dictates the production at all those flat panel factories in the east. When 1080p became the de facto standard for everyone buying TV’s, the commercial market came in right behind.

Back to DSE: Planar showed its stunning new 84in. Planar UltraRes display product line, for ultra-high resolution commercial applications, with a resolution of 3840x2160. It features edge-lit LED technology and passive cooling. The LED light source of course means no lead or mercury, and they are fanless and quiet. LG also showed 4K LCD panels at its booth. And LG’s IPS technology is impressive for its deep deep blacks and high contrast ratio. Samsung is supposedly coming out with 4K in the fall. Sharp is now distributing a 4K 32in. panel. ViewSonic showed its 84in. 4K interactive screen.

Remember when digital signage first started to really take off, what, 10 years ago? It was right about when displays were transitioning from 780p to 1080p. Of course, back then, as now, many in the industry wondered if you really needed more resolution for digital signage images. After all, the content was generally not all that video-centric—a lot of PowerPoint style images, and not very sexy.

ViewSonic showed its 84in. 4K interactive screen.

In digital signage, you don’t always output content from a PC right to the screen. More often than not there is an appliance-type media player in between the server (or just a web browser) and the screen. Today, there are no media players that can play 4K. You need a PC to output 4K at true, native resolution.

Long live high res, in this industry. PC or no PC, who wants the inexorable drive toward higher res, more beautiful images to falter? God forbid that digital signage—or any branch of the video industry—should go over the resolution cliff that audio careened over years ago, with disastrous results. At the end of a long day on the show floor of DSE, or any tradeshow, it’s still just wonderful to see those lush, deep images on those high res screens—a sight for sore eyes and a testament to the fact that we’re still on a roll in digital signage, the newest kid on the new media block.

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