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Projectors and Video Walls – for When AV Projects Go Really Big

In the audiovisual world, if you want to talk about “big,” then you’re talking about LED monitors that today are pushing the limits at about 103 inches (that’s 8.5 feet!!). There who are looking projector rental for their set up.

But, if you want to talk about REALLY big (as in 20 feet or bigger), then the conversation quickly turns to commercial av-video solutions like projectors and video walls and the debate as to which one is better. Historically, one of the biggest factors in the projector and video wall comparison has been price with a projector-based video solution being much lower in cost. Some creators of audiovisual material use projection mapping to create a visual experience on large surfaces such as buildings, curtains and walls.

ExhibitOne Design Engineer Tom Schraufnagel says that piece of conventional wisdom is rapidly changing. “The prices for monitors and related video wall components have dropped dramatically,” Tom said. “There are always a tremendous number of variables involved, but generally speaking, based on a projector and video wall having the same display size and functionality, a video wall may end up costing just 20 percent or so more.”

While some may still quibble over the 20 percent price difference, there is absolutely no debate on the difference in image quality between the two. A video wall produces brighter images, richer colors and sharper contrasts…and those qualities won’t degrade over time. Plus, there’s little worry of it all being washed out by ambient light.

However, Tom says there’s more to a video wall’s advantages than meets the eye. Quite remarkably, a video wall will likely consume less electricity and overall maintenance is less. There are no moving parts, no filters to clean and no bulbs to replace. “After a couple of bulb changes, the price difference between a projector and video wall becomes almost negligible,” Tom said.

Projector bulbs typically have two-to-four thousand hours of operational life. The light source on the newer laser projectors has an operational life of about 10,000 hours.

And then there’s the creative wall – a feat against which projectors just can’t compete. Think about video wall monitors set up to form a “Z” or in a circle, or in a long path, or…well, you get the idea. The design of the video wall itself is almost limitless. The projector? Not so much.

The projector is dead. Long live the projector.

Despite all of the above, the lower initial cost of a projector is still a factor and for certain applications, projectors are still the only choice when thinking “really big.” This is especially so in education and conference room settings where there are many more uses for a wall than just video.

Once a video wall is up, it’s pretty much staying right there, taking up whatever space is needed. With projectors, raise the screen, turn on the lights and ta da…you have your entire room back to use however you please.

Some rooms may be structurally unable to hold a video wall. The traditional 46-inch video wall monitors typically weigh about 40 pounds each, plus the rigging. It doesn’t take much before the weight starts taking its toll.

In a hurry? Setting up a video wall will probably take twice the time of a projector. If audiences will be viewing from different angles, a projector is your better bet. And if the lines created by the monitor bezels are an issue – well – that’s a problem only a projector can solve.

Tom says, more than ever before, clients are solving their “really big” audiovisual needs with video walls. But, despite the shift, there are still significant applications where only a projector will do. The one thing that’s not changing? The need to partner with an experienced audiovisual system design and integration firm to ensure going really big…ends up going really well.


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