Samsung shifts to NPP LED as it calls time on the video wall

posted on Tuesday, 31st March 2020 by Steve May

Pro AV  Digital signage 

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Samsung Displays decision to end production of LCD video wall displays this summer has led some industry observers to speculate this staple of Pro AV and digital signage has run its course. It could also usher in a new era of MiniLED and Micro LED.

Samsung Electronics, Samsung Displays primary customer, favours a shift away from LCD to MiniLED and NPP (Narrow Pixel Pitch) LED displays. NPP LED allows for large screen sizes without obvious vertical and horizontal black lines between panels. This technology, in which LEDs sit on a PCB, create a seamless image, making them more attractive for hotel lobbies and retail environments.

At ISE 2020, Samsung put the spotlight on microLED technology, unveiling a 292-inch 8k version of The Wall Luxury, its bezel-free display solution which has uses both for pro AV and increasingly in the custom install market.

Designed for commercial applications, The Wall for Business is now available in a range of configurable and customizable sizes and ratios, including 219- and 292-inch 4K versions and 437- and 583-inch 8K versions. The largest versions of The Wall ever unveiled, these solutiuons are intended for ‘corporate flagship’ installations.

But Graham Cooke, sector specialist from Futuresource Consulting, suggests the move to abandon the LCD video wall could actually provide an opportunity for Samsung's key competitors. LCD panel manufacturing is still booming, he writes on his Futuresource blog, with new entrants BOE and CSOT more than able to provide comparable capacity. Established rivals LG Display and AUO could also be well placed to benefit from the Samsung DID decision.

Currently the LCD video wall market is dominated by one panel size, 46-inches. This accounts for 9.7 per cent of global video wall shipments. Both AURO and BOE offer 46-inch panel manufacturing.

NPP LED may look slicker, but one key advantage LCD still has over NPP LED is cost. LCD-based video wall panels, which are 1080p, can be scaled to 4K with only a 2x2 wall. To create a 4k wall from NPP LED requires far more physical space, or disproportionately expensive very fine pixel pitch. For many projects, a traditional LCD will be the most appropriate signage display solution.

According to industry stats relayed by Futuresource, the LCD video wall market in 2019 comprised 1.53 million units (worth $4.7 billion), accounting for 25 per cent of all professional LCD display volumes.

By 2024, this is expected to decline, but only to 1.48 million units (worth $3.5 billion). However this could be hastened should Samsung Display to further invest in NPP LED technology.

Samsung Display is scheduled to cease production of LCD video wall displays July 31.

Steve May

Inside CI Editor Steve May is a freelance technology specialist who also writes for T3TechRadarHome Cinema Choice, Trusted Reviews and The Luxe Review.

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