After deciding to adopt digital signage to boost your business, at some point you’ll need to decide on which kind of screen is right for you: consumer or commercial digital displays.
The answer isn’t always going to be totally obvious, but in most cases, we recommend opting for a commercial TV display—especially if your digital signage is going to require long usage hours in bright environments. Sure, commercial displays aren’t always a requirement and they’ll cost more upfront, but they come with many benefits that justify a larger investment off the bat.
Choosing a consumer display instead could run the risk of shelling out thousands of dollars in repairs or even having to buy full-on replacements screens if any die out completely.
What are the main differences between consumer and commercial displays?
Put simply, consumer TV displays are built for typical use in a home setting. These are the type of screens you’d find at a random retail store. Commercial displays, on the other hand, are designed specifically for use in business environments. Most digital signage displays you see in professional settings are of the commercial variety.
But the difference between consumer and commercial displays goes much deeper than that. Here are four key areas of difference that might make you want to choose commercial digital signage displays instead of consumer ones.
The first major difference you’ll notice between a commercial display and a consumer display is the design. From an aesthetic standpoint, commercial displays are designed to blend in with their environment—think clean, industrial, minimal designs. Consumer displays typically have more aesthetic flair and come with a TV stand.
The designs are also different when you factor in durability. Consumer screens aren’t built for the wear-and-tear of prolonged, non-stop use, and are easily damaged if dropped or hit by an object. Commercial displays, however, are specifically designed to operate around the clock and are built with encasings that protect from impacts, dust, heat, and other harsh conditions. If you need an outdoor digital signage display, a commercial display is pretty much your only option.
Consumer displays tend to function best in dim lighting since they are designed for residential environments. Most industry settings—think retail stores, hospitals, malls, and airports—are extremely well-lit though, which means a consumer display’s brightness levels might not go high enough to be clearly visible. To get a gist of the massive difference in brightness between the two, just know that consumer screens typically max out at a brightness level of 350 cd/m2 while commercial digital signage displays can reach up to 2,500+ cd/m2.
To wrap up design comparisons, it’s important to note that consumer screens at their core are built to display cable TV, movies, and video games. Alternatively, commercial displays are designed to broadcast and stream all types of content—including web pages, social media feeds, online videos, motion graphics, slides, promotional content, and more. That’s in addition to everything a consumer display can do.
Digital signage media players
If you want to install digital signage displays, then you’re going to need a digital signage media player to power content to each of your screens. That is unless you have a commercial display with an internal media player that can deploy content from your content management system (CMS). No consumer TV displays on the market come with a built-in media player.
Consumer screens are pretty limited when it comes to input types. Typically, they focus solely on HDMI ports while commercial screens offer a wide range of inputs in addition to HDMI—including VGA, display ports, USB, and DVI. Commercial TV displays also support video-loop out connections for video wall installations.
R232 control allows digital signage owners to control and monitor screens without a remote. This is a hugely important function considering that it allows the precise management of screen functions and features using a computer. Consumer displays rarely have this option, and if they do have it, it is extremely limited in functionality. Most commercial screens, on the other hand, support full RS232 control.
Front panel lockout
The last thing you want to happen to your digital signage is for a prankster to start controlling your screens for their own amusement and at your business’ expense, which can easily happen. All they need to do is use the infrared blaster on their mobile phone or simply press the buttons on the actual TV. Commercial screens protect against this kind of tomfoolery, though, with IR and front panel lockout, which essentially makes your display unchangeable to anyone but your staff.
Unlike consumer TVs, which are meant to be used intermittently, commercial digital signage displays are designed to run non-stop without any problems, thanks to their powerful onboard cooling systems. Consumer displays are only meant to run 6-8 hours per day max. So if you’re looking for a display to run content uninterrupted for extended periods of time, a commercial screen is the way to go.
On that same note, consumer screens aren’t built to function as vertical digital signage displays due to their limited cooling systems. They’ll most likely overheat and experience damage in no time. Commercial TV displays, however, have no problem supporting portrait mode.
There’s a reason that commercial displays cost more upfront than their consumer counterparts. They are built with higher-grade components that last significantly longer than consumer TV components. You can expect to get somewhere between 70,000-100,000 hours out of a commercial display running continuously.
4. Warranty and support
In general, commercial displays come with a three-year warranty while most consumer TVs only come with a one-year warranty. On top of that, consumer screens sometimes come with fine print stating something along the lines that the warranty will be voided if the display is used for commercial purposes.
Most commercial display warranties feature post-sales support. This is a huge help for businesses that have problems during the installation phase. Additionally, commercial display warranties normally cover on-site service if repairs are needed. Consumer TV warranties typically only cover walk-in repairs, which is a big problem if you need to lug in a 60-plus inch screen.
Where can I buy commercial displays?
Obviously, commercial digital signage displays aren’t as easy to find as consumer displays, but they are still just a Google search and few clicks away. Most commercial TV displays are sold by resellers or digital signage company partners.
Need help finding a top-notch commercial display? Head over to our guide on the 6 best digital signage TV displays for 2020.
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