The commercial televisions you see in public places look fairly similar to your domestic televisions at home, and without the technical know-how, trying to set up your first professional display for your business can be difficult. We understand the biggest barriers to entry users face is largely based on the complexity of the equipment. Knowing the difference between consumer and professional displays can save you a lot of time and money down the road.
This article will explain the key differences between consumer and professional (commercial) displays, how to set up your professional display, then recommend the best displays and media players to use that fits your needs. We hope this information will help you make feel more confident with hardware and as well as help you make an informed decision when purchasing a professional display for your business, or at least give you a better idea if you are planning to upgrade your existing consumer displays.
Table of contents:
Section I: Introduction to Professional Displays
Digital Signage is one of the most customizable forms of advertising and can be used to communicate information quickly. If you are considering using digital signage for your business, school, or even as a silent ad display in a store, a display can offer that eye-catching content needed to grab the attention of your audience.
That being said, let's dive into the two types of screens in the digital signage world - Professional displays and consumer displays. Professional displays have a much wider range of uses than consumer displays as they can operate three times as long and are far more durable. Whereas consumer displays are designed for home use, for instance watching a movie or playing video games. These professional displays are mainly used in business environments such as a menu board in a restaurant, wayfinding kiosks, retail stores, and most commonly flight information boards in Airports.
As display technology evolves, viewers are setting higher expectations. Therefore it is essential for businesses to deliver exceptional picture quality for their customers. So keep reading below to see why you should purchase a professional display for your business, the important features a professional display has, and which hardware and display combos we recommended for you to purchase.
Section II: Why Should You Choose a Professional Display Over a Standard Consumer Display?
There are a handful of benefits when choosing to use a professional display for your digital signage. Below we've highlighted some of the key insights during your search for a hardware option:
I) Hour of Operation
Professional displays are designed to operate for long periods of time without damaging any components within the display or dropping image quality. They are far more robust and can stand extensive use in the toughest conditions, whereas the average consumer TV you’d purchase at your local electronic store is designed for minimal use in residential environments. While consumer TVs are great for watching movies they are not designed for continuous use and should typically stop using them after 8 hours as they are at risk of severe internal damage or overheating.
These commercial displays are built with an internal fan or components that allow for heat dissipation. This means that your displays can run for 16/7 hours or even up to 24/7 hours 365 days a year. Professional displays are great for digital signage as they provide peace of mind that your display will last long and won’t fail while you are in the process of using it. So the rule of thumb, first makes sure to check the operational hours of your display (this should be listed in the specifications).
Brightness is a very important feature to consider when choosing a display for your digital signage. Professional displays are equipped with very high brightness such as 400-3000 nits, mainly to account for outdoor or inconsistent lighting caused by uncontrolled environments. In addition, most professional displays come with anti-glare and local dimming capabilities. This allows for these displays to adapt to various locations and still produce consistent picture quality. Whereas consumer TVs operate best in controlled lighting and usually have about 150-300 nits.
iii) Cost of Ownership
Some businesses may favor the use of a consumer display for their digital signage as they are much cheaper, but this may present many issues down the road. Buying a consumer display rather than a professional display may seem like the best choice for your wallet, but professional displays offer a significantly better return on investment.
Cost plays an important role in the decision-making process. Oftentimes, many businesses would purchase consumer displays under the assumption that professional displays would cost them an arm and a leg, or simply because they just aren't aware of their options. But with a bit of information, they would come to learn that even though these displays have a high initial investment, they come with an array of features that consumer TVs do not have. If you are planning to purchase a display for long-term investment, a commercial display is most likely to outlast a consumer display and save you more money in the long term. Using standard televisions for professional signage applications will result in constant maintenance and adjustments.
iv) Anti-Theft Precautions (Vandalism)
It is very important to secure your displays and take anti-theft precautions to prevent unauthorized personnel from making adjustments to your screens as this could be detrimental to the messages you are trying to get across.
With consumer displays, it is easy for someone to change a channel or connect via HDMI and upload an inappropriate piece of content. And accidents do happen. Many professional displays already provide these protective measures that block individuals from tampering with the power, volume, or any other controls that are easily accessible to the public.
Professional signage displays are designed to meet the needs of a wide range of business applications such as advertisement displays, menu information, wayfinding kiosks, or even to display company messages. Regardless of your digital signage purpose, professional displays are built for demanding environments.
The physical chassis are designed much stronger to withstand any environment that has vibrations, dust, smoke, or even grease. Environments with high pollutants such as fast-food restaurants, bus terminals, factories, ski resorts, hot weather, cold weather, you name it these displays can handle it. For example, menu boards can get really hot but can also get very greasy and dusty so you need that extra coat of protection that professional displays provide. Even the display panels are commercial-grade screens to reduce the possibility of burn-in and image retention.
Not all screens are made equal, so what may be good for your restaurant isn't necessarily good for your lobby. If you use a display in a scenario it is not built for, for example, exceeding the daily operational hour limit or exceeding the temperature limit, the manufacturer may no longer honor the warranty.
Section III: Expandable Features
There are also a number of expandable features that you can use or benefit from with a professional display for your digital signage. Some of the notable features are:
i) Open Pluggable Specification (OPS)
The key dividing feature between professional displays and consumer displays is their variety of expandable features. Open Pluggable Specification (OPS) is an industry-wide standard for commuting system solutions, in simpler words, it is a set of criteria for external PCs allowing these modules to easily be inserted, serviced, or replaced with any display having this capability. Having this standardized slot in your professional display allows users to constantly keep up to date with the latest technology. Users can upgrade their processing power whenever a new and faster software enters the market. No need to go out and purchase a whole new display just simply purchase an OPS module with the latest software and plug it in!
Appearance is so important these days, especially in retail shops. Have you ever been walked into shop and were immediately turned off by the lack of organization? Purchasing a professional display with an OPS slot can give viewers a good impression and sets the tone of the store or any application of your choice.
These pluggable media players allow for easy installation and maintenance. These OPS modules can push rigorous video formats, ideal for the digital signage market. This solution makes it possible to integrate digital signage media players into commercial displays seamlessly, effectively turning your display into an All-in-One PC solution.
ii) Touch Screen Capability
Not only that but Professional displays also have the ability to add touch screen overlays, allowing for any professional display to gain the ability of touch screen. This can dramatically enhance the way customers look for information at information kiosks.
Section VI: Top Recommended Professional Display for Digital Signage
We have done the heavy lifting for you and listed below our top recommended display options for different use cases. We have categorized displays into different hourly usages, such as 16/7 hours, 18/7 hours, and 24/7 hours to try and help narrow down the best option for you as much as possible. Within those categories, we have sectioned different price points; We have budget choice options for entry users, medium choice options, and premium options for those looking for the best possible digital signage set up regardless of price.
Let's dig in.
4.1. Low Functioning Professional Displays (16/7 hours)
If you're looking for a professional setup but don't necessarily need all of the fancy features that some of our 24-hour displays have, a 16-hour display will give you just what you need to get your digital signage set up. Displays that run 16 hours a day, seven days a week are perfect for the corporate or educational sectors where you may not need a display to run constantly. In this section, we will walk you through our recommendations for the best low-functioning displays running 16/7 hours at every price point.
Low Functioning Displays (16/7) Hours
(Best Choice) LG LG UL3J-E Series (WebOS 6.0)
Image Credit: LG
Best for: corporate environments, education, retail stores, restaurants.
Good news - you won't have to spend a fortune to get a great professional display for your digital signage setup. With technology advancing so rapidly these days, TVs are becoming cheaper and what you would have normally bought 5 years ago equates to half the price today.
If you're in need of a beginner's display, the LG UL3J-E Series is very affordable and is a great entry point for new professional display users. This 4K display is equipped with an IPS-type panel that produces great viewing angles for larger set rooms.
It has a peak brightness of 400 nits which is quite low but this is expected for a lower-tier professional display. To help combat any glare, this display is equipped with a haze treatment to reduce reflections that may disrupt picture quality.
It is important to note that this display comes with a WebOS 6.0 operating system which is supported by ScreenCloud so there is no need to purchase an external media player which is perfect for those looking for a low-cost, simple digital signage setup.
4.2 Medium Functioning Professional Displays (18/7 hours)
Perhaps a display that runs 16/7 hours doesn't meet the requirements of your digital signage needs and a 24/7 display is a bit overkill. Luckily there is a sweet spot right in the middle.
18/7 hour displays offer that perfect balance. It is important to note when looking through this section, to keep in mind that it is rare to find professional displays running 18/7 hours therefore there are limited options to choose from. In this section, we'll walk you through our top choices for the medium-functioning displays running 18/7 hours.
Medium Functioning Displays (18/7) Hours
(Best Choice) LG UM3DG Series
Image Credit: LG
Best for: retail shops, hospitality, lobbies, and other corporate meeting areas.
The LG UM3DG-B Series is a mid-high range professional display that supports 4K resolution and has a limited of 18/7 hours of operation. This display is sold in sizes 43", 49", 55", and 65-inches but 43 inches should suffice.
The UM3DG-B has a peak brightness of about 350 nits which is good enough for indoor use, but if you're planning to place this display outside we suggest purchasing a brighter display as this will help combat glare.
In addition, the UM3DG-B comes with an IPS panel so picture quality will not degrade when being viewed from an angle. This is ideal for retail shops, hospitality areas, lobbies, and other corporate meeting areas.
Its narrow bezel design also provides a great foundation if you decide to place two screens side by side so you can seamlessly incorporate digital screens into public places giving the space an overall sophisticated design. The user experience may also be improved with the help of built-in speakers which is rarely seen with professional displays.
We would like to highlight that this display has an IP5x Dust-Proof Certification. Meaning under the hood, the displays have a coating on all circuit boards to minimize damage by protecting components against humidity and dust. This may be important to you if you're placing your display in an area where you don't have access to frequently (and maybe dusty) or you're placing your display in a high foot traffic area.
The UM3DG-B series comes equipped with a WebOS 4.1 operating system so there is no need to purchase an external media player for digital signage with ScreenCloud. If you would like to pair this display with a media player, check our top recommendations here.
See our help page here for a full list of our recommended and supported devices.
(Alternative Choice) Sony FWD X80H/T Series
Sony as a brand has given birth to some of the most iconic electronics and has consistently dominated the market. In 2019 Sony released its very first line of BRAVIA professional displays and has been releasing quality displays ever since.
The Sony Bravia X80H/T Series is the perfect addition to your digital signage strategy. It runs on Android 9.0 so there is no need to purchase an external media player for digital signage with ScreenCloud. It comes in 4 different sizes such as the 43", 49", 55", and 65-inch displays but a 43-inch display should do the trick.
With Sony displays, everything you watch is sharpened. Their new line of X80H/T professional displays is equipped with innovative HDR features and X1 processors that use object-based rendering and 4K X-reality Pro unscaling in real-time.
This intelligent technology analyzes objects on screen and fine-tunes the color contrast so that the resemblance to real images is uncanny.
The Sony X80H/T has a good peak brightness of 440 nits and has a contrast ratio of 1000:1. Its local dimming features can also accurately balance the light input across the screen so darker scenes get darker and brighter scenes get brighter.
If the Sony X80H/T is a bit too out of your budget but appeals to this premium range standard, we recommend downgrading to the Sony W66F/T Series. You may also use the Sony XG85/XG80 or Sony A9G/T series.
If money isn't a problem, Sony's new flagship models also include their very first 8K BRAVIA professional display available in sizes 85" and 98 inches.
Although it is not needed if you would like to pair this display with a media player, feel free to check our top recommendations here.
Sony FWD-43X80H/T BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 43" (Click here to inquire via Sony UK)
Sony FWD-49X80H/T BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 49" (Click here to inquire via Sony UK)
Sony FWD-55X80H/T BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 55" (Click here to inquire via Sony UK)
Sony FWD-65X80H/T BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 65" (Click here to inquire via Sony UK)
Sony FWD-75X80H/T BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 75" (Click here to inquire via Sony UK)
Sony FWD-85X80H/T BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 85" (Click here to inquire via Sony UK)
4.3 High Functioning Professional Displays (24/7 hours)
Purchasing a high-functioning professional display can be daunting as they are quite expensive. We categorize all professional displays running 24/7 as high functioning because they are designed to run none stop. These displays are designed to go through the most rigorous condition. You would most commonly find these displays in areas that operate throughout the night, for example, control rooms that require around-the-clock observations, airport schedule boards, even the drive-through menu at your 24/7 Mcdonald's down the street. Any type of screen that provides information to customers all day, every day. Hardware errors can result in many wasted man-hours and can cause damage to your brand, therefore you will need to purchase a display that you can rely on. In this section, we'll walk you through our top choices for the high-functioning displays running 24/7 hours.
High Functioning Displays: Entry Level (24/7) Hours
(Best Choice) LG UH5F-H Series
Image Credit: LG
Best for: fast-food restaurants, conveniences stores, control rooms, airport terminals
If you think you’re going to use a display continuously and expect high-performance time after time, we recommend purchasing a display that is capable of running 24/7. The LG UH5F-H series is a great example of a reliable professional display that is equipped with a variety of features to support long-term use.
This series comes in a few sizes ranging from 43 to 98 inches and has a peak brightness of 500 nits which is more than enough for digital signage.
The UH5F-H series has an IPS panel type that produces a more accurate picture and color reproduction when viewed from an angle. It also has a wide color gamut and decent color contrast of 1,100:1 to produce vivid and realistic content.
Unlike some professional displays, the UH5F-H series supports both portrait and landscape modes. The display has auto rotation sensors that change the orientation when the display is adjusted to make the setup process that much easier.
Like every other display in this high-end category, this display can operate for 24/7 hours
And within a 10%-80% humidity range, so there is no need to fear condensation. And for an extra added layer of protection, this series has an IP5x Dust-Proof Certification to minimize component damage from humidity and dust.
For more versatility the UH5F-B series support installations with 30 degrees of tilt. When positioning your display with any degrees of tilt it is important to read the display manually as some displays do not support this format and your warranty may be void.
There is no requirement for an external media player as you can install ScreenCloud's WebOS app directly onto the display. The benefit of this is that you're cutting hardware costs by only purchasing a display, as well as cutting down installation time.
LG 49UH5F-H UHD Slim Signage Display - 49" (Click here to buy via CDW)
LG 55UH5F-H UHD Slim Signage Display - 55" (Click here to buy via SHI)
LG 65UH5F-H UHD Slim Signage Display - 65" (Click here to buy via SHI)
(Alternative Choice) Sony BZ30J Series 2021
As an alternative choice, the Sony BZ30J Series also has 24/7 hour operation but runs on an Android 10 operating system, so there is no need to purchase an external media player for digital signage with ScreenCloud.
The BZ30J Series comes in a very wide range of 32”, 50” 55”, and 65 inches and has a decent brightness of 440 nits.
This series is naturally a great option as it has stunning picture quality and is able to deliver rich life-like images thanks to its support for ultra-high-definition 4K resolution, its 1200:1 contrast ratio, and displays over one billion colors.
Like the previous option, the BZ30J series supports landscape, portrait mode, and tilt orientations to serve any type of digital signage need. And more, it is equipped with anti-glare and haze treatment to reduce reflections, and local dimming techniques to darken black levels and enhance the overall experience
If you would like to pair this display with a separate media player, check our top recommendations here.
Sony FW-32BZ30J BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 32" (Click here to buy via SHI)
Sony FW-43BZ30J BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 43" (Click here to buy via CDW)
Sony FW-50BZ30J BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 50" (Click here to inquire via Sony)
Sony FW-55BZ30J BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 55" (Click here to buy via CDW)
Sony FW-65BZ30J BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 65" (Click here to buy via CDW)
Sony FW-75BZ30J BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display - 75" (Click here to buy via CDW)
High Functioning Displays: Premium (24/7) Hours
(Best Choice) LG UH7F-H Series
Image Credit: LG
Best for: Airport Arrival and departure schedules, control rooms, expositions.
If you prefer a professional display running 24/7 with higher brightness we recommend purchasing the LG UH7F-H Series. This series has a very high peak brightness of 700 nits. The UH7F-H also comes with anti-reflection technology, suited for brightly lit rooms such as expositions or airports.
Its sleek design not only looks aesthetically pleasing but simplifies installations and allows for clean and easy set-up.
The UH7F-H is a reliable display that can display content in both portrait, landscape, and tilt orientations. It is important to note that the maximum level of tilt is 30 degrees so you do not over-extend your display as this may void your warranty.
This professional display is built with a sturdy chassis and is IP5x certification you can rest assured that your display is capable of commercial applications in public areas with high traffic.
This series uses a variety of technology to display great picture quality such as HEVC video encoding, which efficiently compresses demanding UHD content, and plays it smoothly with less effort.
The UH7F-H is equipped with a WebOS 4.1 operating system making it a great all-in-one solution and there is no need to purchase an external media player for digital signage with ScreenCloud.
LG 43UH7F-H Commercial Display - 43" (Click here to buy via CDW)
LG 49UH7F-H Commercial Display - 49" (Click here to buy via CDW)
LG 55UH7F-H Commercial Display - 55" (Click here to buy via CDW)
LG 65UH7F-H Commercial Display - 65" (Click here to buy via CDW)
LG 75UH7F-H Commercial Display - 75" (Click here to buy via CDW)
LG 86UH7F-H Commercial Display - 86" (Click here to buy via CDW)
LG 98UH7F-H Commercial Display - 98" (Click here to buy via CDW)
(Alternative Choice) Sony BZ40H Series 2021
The Sony BZ40H series professional display is a great alternative If you're looking for a high functioning 24-hour display but with an Android operating system built-in.
The BZ40H series displays are specifically designed to improve productivity by seamlessly integrating into the corporate and retail industry. Their built-in Chromecast features offer users a wireless solution to immediately display photos of videos needed to make meetings run smoother and faster. With the BZ40H display you also have access to an entire ecosystem of apps through the Google Play Store, included our very own ScreenCloud digital signage software.
The BZ40H series supports 4K resolution, uses X-motion clarity to ensure smooth transitions between content, and uses TRILUMINOS technology maps to widen the color pallae and display more lifelike tones and hues.
This series supports an extremely high brightness of up to 850 nits to ensure that high-impact visuals can be seen with clarity. It is also equipped with sophisticated full-array local dimming features to selectively brighten or darken portions of the screen to enhance detail and color. Colors are more than just a way to make your signs look pretty, research has shown that colors influence how customers view the "personality" of the brand as our brains make associations with certain colors.
The BZ40H is available in 50", 58", 65", 70", and 75-inch display options and is equipped with a full operating system so there is no need for an external media player to use with ScreenCloud.
If you would like to pair this display with a media player, check our top recommendations here.
Sony FW-55BZ40H BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display 55" (Click here to buy via CDW)
Sony FW-65BZ40H BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display 65" (Click here to buy via CDW)
Sony FW-75BZ40H BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display 75" (Click here to buy via CDW)
Sony FW-85BZ40H BRAVIA 4K UHD Professional Display 85" (Click here to buy via CDW)
If you have any additional questions on which professional displays to purchase for Digital Signage, or any other questions or feedback about ScreenCloud, feel free to reach out to our support team at email@example.com or give us a call at our toll-free support line at +18885575335.