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Control Room Video Wall Systems Buying Guide

Apr. 29, 2024

Control Room Video Wall Systems Buying Guide

If you’re in the market for a control room video wall system, you know there are a lot of options to choose from. This means it can be difficult to fully comprehend each system and whether or not it will meet all of your needs. In this blog, we’ll examine each of your choices, including how they work and the advantages and disadvantages of each configuration.

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Why Control Room Video Wall Systems Matter

When it comes to mission-critical command center environments, few elements are as important as control room video wall systems. Versatile, high-resolution video wall installations help control room operators and essential personnel maintain the highest levels of situational awareness. They also facilitate organization-wide collaboration, efficient big data monitoring, and the ability to make informed decisions in real time.

It’s important to understand that different industries have unique display and hardware requirements. Each organization has to display different types of content, and their control room video wall design must be able to meet those requirements. However, there are several universal standards for data center video wall systems, which we’ll review below.

Must-Haves for Control Room Video Wall Systems

Regardless of your organization or industry, your command center video wall must be:

  1. Flexible to support and integrate with a variety of content sources. These include SCADA, traffic cameras, weather forecasts, manufacturing data, security cameras, and much more.
  2. Scalable to grow alongside your organization’s needs. Whether you’re adding input sources or replacing old screens, your video wall setup must be conveniently scalable.
  3. Reliable for 24/7 environments that require continuous monitoring. Video walls must have redundant, fail-safe power supplies that ensure operations around the clock. It’s important to note that not all display manufacturers offer products with redundant power supplies. Redundancy is sometimes provided through a back-up generator or an automatic switch to a different circuit.
  4. Equipped with high-resolution displays that maximize data interpretation. Access to clear, well-organized data at a glance helps operators make the best decisions possible.
  5. Designed and built to the highest quality standards for an extended lifespan. Selecting a video wall system with a long lifecycle helps optimize your cost of ownership.

LED Video Wall Systems

Also known as direct-view LED, LED (light-emitting diode) screens contain semiconductors that emit light as a current passes through them. These currents (or energy bands) are composed of particles known as electrons and holes. The gap between each band determines the energy of each photon (or light particle) the screen emits. This photon energy dictates the wavelength (or color) of the emitted light.

Advantages of LED Video Walls

There are many benefits of selecting LEDs for your data center video wall system:

  • High pixel density
  • Seamless/bezel-less visualization
  • Most convenient serviceability
  • Extremely high brightness levels
  • Long lifespan similar to LCDs

Disadvantages of LED Video Walls

Here are a few disadvantages of LED systems to keep in mind before making a purchase:

  • Highest initial investment
  • Lower resolution than LCD and rear-projection options

LCD Video Wall Systems

Unlike LEDs (which emit light), LCD (liquid crystal display) screens use a backlight to produce an image. This backlight can be a traditional fluorescent bulb or an LED light. LCDs use liquid crystals to rotate polarized light between two glass filters as pixels are switched on and off electronically. Because the light is polarized, only half of it shines through to the liquid crystal layer.

Modern LCD screens operate using an active matrix display grid, also referred to as a thin film transistor (TFT) display. LCD screens have a grid of conductors with pixels at each intersection in the grid. Active matrix models use TFTs with capacitors that allow individual pixels to retain their charge. Because there is a transistor at each pixel intersection, less current is required to maintain each pixel’s luminance. This allows the current to be switched on and off more often, improving screen refresh time.

Passive matrix display grid LCDs are available (and were more common in the past), but active models are typically preferable in high-intensity control room environments.

Advantages of LCD Video Walls

Here are a few of the most important advantages of LCD screens for command centers:

  • High pixel density, resolution, and brightness
  • Lowest initial investment
  • Uses less power than LED displays
  • Reliable, solid-state construction
  • Low cost of ownership due to minimal maintenance

Disadvantages of LCD Video Walls

While there are many benefits of LCD video walls, there are a few disadvantages to account for:

  • Visible bezels (seams) between individual panels
  • Image retention when a static image is displayed for an extended period
  • Some light may shine through liquid crystals to screen
  • Shorter lifespan than some other options

DLP Front-Projection Video Wall Systems

DLP (digital light processing) front-projection systems use digital micromirrors to reflect light towards (“on” pixel) or away from (“off” pixel) a screen. These micromirrors work together with a spinning color wheel to create sequential color patterns that generate each projected image. Some high-end DLP models have three individual DLP chips for red, green, and blue (RGB).

Advantages of DLP Front-Projection Video Walls

There are many benefits of purchasing DLP video wall installations, including:

  • Non-liquid components allow for greater screen sizes
  • Wide color spectrum range and grayscale linearity
  • No visible bezel lines
  • Less expensive upfront and more cost-effective over time
  • Practically maintenance-free

Disadvantages of DLP Front-Projection Video Walls

Here are a few disadvantages of DLP systems to consider before making a decision:

  • Potential rainbow effect based on number of projector segments
  • More moving parts than non-projector options
  • Lower color saturation levels for poorer reds and yellows
  • Greater number of lumens in rooms with high ambient light

Rear-Projection Video Wall Systems

Rear-projection video wall systems (also known as cubes) shine light onto a mirror inside a sealed cube, which is then reflected onto a display screen. Because the cube is fully enclosed, the effects of ambient light are minimized, improving display brightness and contrast. Cubes can be arranged in flat, curved, and non-rectangular setups and are often built into recessed spaces as tiled arrays.

Advantages of Rear-Projection Video Walls

Here are a few of the most significant advantages of selecting rear-projection systems:

  • Virtually seamless, but still easily scalable
  • Large cubes available to create huge walls
  • Longer lifespan than some other options
  • Extremely reliable for 24/7 operations
  • High pixel density and no image burn-in

Disadvantages of Rear-Projection Video Walls

While there are many benefits of rear-projection systems, here are a few cons to remember:

  • Higher initial investment
  • Limited viewing angles compared to some other systems
  • Visible (albeit tiny) bezels
  • Largest footprint due to cube depth

Blended Projection Video Wall Systems

Blended projection systems combine multiple projectors to create larger, higher-resolution images than a single projector. They work by overlapping multiple images and crossfading their edges gradually to produce a single, crisp image. Blended projection systems are available for both front- and rear-projection configurations and compatible with screens of nearly any size or shape.

Advantages of Blended Projection Video Walls

There are several advantages of choosing a blended projection system, including:

  • Seamless projection that’s perfect for simulations
  • Extremely large, high-resolution display surfaces
  • Produce images on flat, curved, angular, or spherical surfaces

Disadvantages of Blended Projection Video Walls

Here are a few negatives to keep in mind as you consider blended projection options:

  • Ambient light levels can impact brightness and contrast
  • Large footprint required for rear-projection blended systems
  • Not as easily scalable as tiled systems like LCD, LED, or cubes

Choose a Network-Engineered Content Management System

Control room video wall systems can’t function to their highest potential without a reliable content management system like Mauell’s Xomnium. Xomnium allows your personnel to display, control, stream, view, and share each piece of data that enters your control room in real time. It’s IP-based and uses standard network technology to seamlessly scale up or down with your organization.

Ready to upgrade your control room video wall design or content management system? We offer a wide variety of options to meet the unique display and processing needs of any organization. Contact us today to speak with an experienced consultant.

The 10 Best Video Wall Controllers

This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in October of 2017. If you find that one screen isn't big enough to convey your message, or you need centralized control over a number of televisions spread across a space, like a bar, you're going to want one of these high-quality video wall processors. They can take a signal, break it up, and render it seamlessly on up to nine TVs working in concert, or split it to share among several displays. When users buy our independently chosen editorial selections, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

This wiki has been updated 24 times since it was first published in October of 2017. If you find that one screen isn't big enough to convey your message, or you need centralized control over a number of televisions spread across a space, like a bar, you're going to want one of these high-quality video wall processors. They can take a signal, break it up, and render it seamlessly on up to nine TVs working in concert, or split it to share among several displays. When users buy our independently chosen editorial picks, we may earn commissions to help fund the Wiki.

The Link-Mi LM-TV09 (about $1299) features a full array of front-mounted controls in a high-contrast orange color. That makes them easy to find in dimly lit areas, and they allow you to perform quick adjustments without diving into complicated menus.

The Rijer Matrix Processor (around $799) can create a 3 x 3 panel setup in 1080p for a very reasonable price. Its rotational controls allow you to line up the screens in a matter of moments, and its edge mask function helps prevent internal divisions from becoming a distraction.

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The No Hassle Audio Video Processor (around $2099) is designed to create its display from a 4K signal using an incredibly simple setup process. It sends its data over Cat 7 cables, and requires no mirroring or reorganizing to get its panels to line up.

A new addition to the market, the Mophorn 3x3 made a big splash by offering all the same bells and whistles as similar units, while being both equally durable and more competitively priced compared to its competition. One such competitor, the No Hassle AV 3x3, took a dive as its remote has failed to live up to the company's name.

For this latest ranking, we wanted to focus on controllers that could utilize and even output 4K signals, where our previous list only included models that offered up to 1080p. The Rijer unit on our old list has been replaced by a new offering from the same company that does, in fact, boast a 4K stream. No Hassle AV, which took a bit of a hit on our last ranking, has rebounded into first place with their 3x3 4K model. In our special honors section, you'll find three devices all capable of 4K display , two of which are rack-mountable and clearly geared toward the highest echelon of professional application.

We also upgraded the Rijer 2X2 Processor to the Rijer Matrix Processor , taking you from a 2x2 maximum setup to a 3x3. One of the most important features of this model is its interlaced feed conversion, which prevents annoying lines from appearing in your image, especially during action scenes, by turning that feed into a progressive signal that plays much more fluidly on most modern televisions .

As with our last visit to this ranking, the drive toward additional models capable of handling 4K signals continues. To that end, we updated the Link-Mi LM-TV09 , the layout of which is largely the same as its predecessor save for the elimination of support for VGA and composite video input. While this may alienate some users, HDMI connectivity is liable to dominate most setups, and the composite connection will continue fading into obsolescence in the coming years. In place of those connections, the TV09 has included a Displayport input, which should prove to be more useful in connecting most computers as sources for video content.

Smart AVI 4K This model provides users with an incredibly simple plug-and-play setup and a quality of video that's hard to beat. It can be controlled by a PC through its Ethernet connection, and its 2 x 2 output can be split up to deliver different inputs to up to four screens placed wherever you like.

RGB Spectrum 4K Processor With reliable copy protection capabilities and up to 60 preset layouts, you can set this option up quickly and easily without fear of many significant technical issues. It's a little more complicated when you get into manual settings, but a front-facing LCD readout makes adjustments relatively easy to perform.

Exxact Corp TensorEX TS4 This offering comes from a company that boasts a whole host of large, rack mounted processors. This particular model offers outstanding color support from 4K sources, split up among four screens per card. It can be scaled up with as many as five additional cards to create an absolutely massive display.

If you have a bar, a restaurant, or a similar establishment that could benefit from having up to four televisions displaying different streams in various areas of your space, then the AVI ProAV Series Seamless 4 x 4 (around $590) may be your best bet.

The Deface Processor (about $299) offers inputs for both HDMI and DVI sources, with the ability to handle ultra-high-definition content. It can easily flip the image 180 degrees to ensure proper alignment for panels of up to four screens.

Many users new to the splitting process will find building a 2 x 2 or 4 x 4 display easier than they thought with the J-Tech Digital ProAV Series (appx. $636). It has channel status indicator lights for each pathway, so you can set up and troubleshoot quickly.

With the ability to splice a single incoming HDMI signal across nine television screens, the Mophorn TV22 (appx. $730) is capable of creating a truly immersive experience for anyone who sees it in action. It's well-priced for a 3 x 3 unit, to boot.

The Uniharpa TV Max Processor (appx. $269) might not offer 4K, but its 1920 x 1200 resolution allows you to maintain a sharp picture in many aspect ratios. Its handy adjustment knob makes quick work of navigating menus and changing settings.

The Iseevy Limited Splicing (about $289) is about as simple and effective as it gets for putting together a 2 x 2 display, and its relatively low profile makes for an easy installation, even in rooms that don't have a lot of space to work with.

The digital processing that takes place inside the Link-Mi 4-Channel (around $389) will automatically convert interlaced signals to display on progressive screens without scan lines, while also maintaining consistent aspect ratios and refresh rates.

The Birth Of Multimedia

If we were ever going to realize Ray Bradbury's wallpaper-TV dreams, something had to give.

Published a few months before the United States' first-ever color television broadcast, Ray Bradbury's 1953 masterpiece Fahrenheit 451 fantasizes about immersive, interactive, wall-to-wall video screens that threaten to replace most real human interaction. All social commentary aside, Bradbury could hardly have known how prescient he really was. It's taken over a half-century, but that experience is no longer the stuff of science fiction.

Video technology has experienced a meteoric rise over its short lifespan. And like an incredible number of other fundamental electrical inventions, Thomas Edison was deeply involved in its genesis. On an immediate level, his Kinetoscope foreshadowed a rich future for video recording. And while Edison was an undeniable engineering genius, he really only made one true contribution to the field of pure science. Known for decades as the Edison Effect, his renowned rediscovery of thermal electron emission paved the way for vacuum tubes, cathode rays, diodes, and transistors — all absolutely vital parts of the development of electronic displays.

Video spent much of the last century beaming out of a vacuum tube, courtesy of a hot cathode. The cathode-ray tube television operated on analog signals and provided America's entertainment du jour for generations. Engineers refined the CRT over many years, and by the end of its run, the glass behemoths delivered smooth motion, crisp lines, and brightness levels that kids these days can scarcely imagine.

By the time high-definition video hit the scene, CRTs were headed the way of the dinosaur; no one had the strength or space for a 45-inch tube TV that weighed a few hundred pounds. The first rear-projection big-screen models weren't much lighter than their predecessors, and they suffered from brightness and contrast issues. If we were ever going to realize Ray Bradbury's wallpaper-TV dreams, something had to give.

A Liquid Crystal Lunch

To solve the problem of overly massive television sets, engineers turned to a somewhat counter-intuitive, hybrid-state type of matter: the liquid crystal. And there's an overwhelming chance that you're looking at liquid crystals right now.

Because, unlike backlit systems, there's only one step to power, OLEDs are among the most energy-efficient and fastest-responding displays on the market.

LCDs are basically sandwiches of liquid crystal between two layers of substrate. In the middle is an organic polymer that demonstrates characteristics of solids or liquids, depending on whether an electric charge is flowing through it. The most basic such panels consist of polarizing substrates offset 90 degrees from one another, surrounding a layer of twisted nematic molecules that bend the light and allow it to pass through both outer layers, resulting in a bright, activated pixel. Also lining the substrates are two opposing layers of thin-film transistors, which are transparent networks of transistors and capacitors, as well as a series of color filters. Most variants on this system change the orientation of either the substrates or the liquid crystals, which can greatly affect brightness, response time, and black levels.

One shortcoming of LCDs is that they aren't emissive, which means behind every good panel, there must be a source of light. Older flat-panels sat in front of ultra-bright fluorescent bulbs, which tended to bleed light, and were rather heavy and difficult to work with. The light-emitting diode brought the weight and profile of LCD screens down considerably. Some now incorporate entire layers of LEDs, with individually dimmable regions allowing for strikingly deep blacks and increased contrast. Edge-lit displays are becoming more popular, partially because they're so slim and lightweight, and this is the type of LCD you'll most likely see on commercial video walls.

There are also two relatively new technologies called OLED and MicroLED. Each pixel in a MicroLED panel is a grouping of multiple tiny LEDs of varying colors. Unlike a standard LCD screen, this type does produce its own light, and also doesn't require color filters. The entirely different OLED utilizes a series of layered organic (read: carbon-containing) substances that, when the electricity flows, separate local electrons from their anode hosts, and then essentially slam them back together. This sudden reunion spawns a photon, the building block of light, which passes through a color filter and shines itself into the room. Because, unlike backlit systems, there's only one step to power, OLEDs are among the most energy-efficient and fastest-responding displays on the market. On top of that, they're ridiculously thin and light, with some models less than a quarter-inch thick.

While it's possible to create a video wall out of everyday HDTVs, there are commercial-grade units built just for this purpose. They often include appropriate features like modular mounting systems, ultra-slim bezels, and power passthrough. After selecting the right set of displays, you'll need a reliable way to make sure they all receive the right signal.

What's Behind The Plugs

While some commercial models offer the ability to daisy-chain and stretch an input across multiple screens, this method is severely limited in terms of image quality and flexibility. Aside from that entry-level approach, there are a few other major types of video wall controller: hardware-, software-, and network-based. Software suites makes it relatively easy to program and maintain a small wall using a standard PC with added GPUs. Alternately, there are quite a few hardware options that function more like traditional A/V equipment. Many of these are rack-mountable, and operate on a fixed set of instructions. These can be powerful, but they can't usually be upgraded or future-proofed. AV-over-IP is a relatively new transmission method that uitilizes gigabit (or faster) Ethernet configurations to distribute processed data to multiple screens. This system is considerably more scalable and upgradable than the others, and continues to gain traction.

Display technology is among the most fascinating and rapidly advancing fields today. The proliferation of low-cost, high-resolution screens, along with cutting-edge, creative visuals and rendering techniques, make it an easier choice than ever to invest in a massive, multimedia experience, whether it's in an airport, art museum, or athletic stadium. Depending on your organization's size and the content on display, one of today's powerful controllers will make setting up your video wall a breeze.

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