Commercial monitors or consumer TV: Which is more suitable for digital signage?

Image showing both commercial signage screens and a TV indicating their difference


How is digital signage different from a TV?

Before digging into how suitable or unsuitable household TVs are for industrial use, what do you think? Would commercial signage screens separately exist if a TV checked all boxes? Would there be so much discussion about the ROIs of digital signage? Apparently, the answer looks like a no. Let me tell you; there exists a slight fallacy here and there.

Television screens are not designed to be used 24 hours a day, and if done for prolonged periods, they can be affected by image retention issues and color fade (those rainbow panels on the top left of your display.

Digital signage displays, on the other hand, use commercial-grade panels specifically designed for constant use. These screens, therefore, run with little to no downtime and often come with internal cooling fans and ventilation to ensure the screens operate within their optimum temperature window. The digital signage media players, too, are vastly different from television boxes.

Besides the installation cost, which is much less than commercial electronic signage hardware, does it make sense to use consumer-grade TVs as digital signage? Let’s find out!

Can a TV be used for Digital Signage?

Image showing people watching a regular tv screen

Ticks and misses!

The answer is both a yes and a no! In millennial terms - it depends! Well, here, it indeed does!

If you are a small business such as a local eatery, bookstore, cafe, or library, using household TV as a signage screen might be the right idea to cut back on costs yet, keep your promo on point!

However, in such cases, you should ensure that your TV:

  • is placed indoors

  • gets at least 30 minutes of cooling time after every 9-10 hours (so you need to switch it off at roughly 10 hours interval)

  • uses licensed content management software instead of USB sticks

Nowadays, many domestic smart TVs from Samsung, LG, and TCL have more robust, higher resolutions & brightness, allowing them to be used as digital signage. So, if your business doesn’t require your digital signage to be always ON or placed outdoors, go ahead and use your home television instead of a commercial display.

Commercial digital signage displays vs. TV displays

Now that we know both regular TVs and commercial screens can be used as digital signage depending on the operating hours and screen placement, let’s find out the pros & cons of each of these categories.

Commercial displays: Pros & cons

Commercial-grade digital screens can be anything, from a large-format digital billboard to an interactive kiosk.

Pros of commercial digital signage

Commercial digital signage screens come with several features and factors that make them a favorite among the business crowd! Here are some of their key components

  • Durability : Commercial displays are designed to operate 24/7 and are built with protective sheaths that guard the screen against environmental impacts, such as harsh weather conditions, dust, and other external damage-inducing factors.

  • Connectivity: Commercial digital signage screens offer a wide range of inputs, such as multiple HDMI & USB ports, VGA (Video Graphics Arrays), DVI (digital visual interface), and RS-232 inputs. Such a wide variety of input systems allow greater flexibility in running the content.

    For example, multiple commercial screens can be connected via these ports to show content in a large format or a Custom Integrated Audio/Video (A/V) system.

  • Brightness : Since commercial signage screens, such as digital billboards, footpath digital posters, or car-top mobile digital boards, are for outdoor usage, viewership from a distance is an indispensable factor. And this is why a commercial display is likely to be 10x brighter than an ordinary television screen.

According to LG, Further, the display technology also affects the picture clarity or the resolution of a screen.Take a look at this example:

Image showing the difference between pixel resolutions of LED, mini LED and OLED screens

Image source: LG

  • No screen burn: Screen burn is what (in layman’s terms) call a display’s “primal fear.” Playing the same content on an LCD display (which is often the display technology used in TVs) can lead to screen-burns.

    A screen burn is a permanent discoloration of the screen that makes the media playing appear blurred (called Ghost images), giving you the near identical experience of watching a 3D movie without the 3D glasses.

A commercial digital signage display showing train timings for London's Liverpool station
Image source: Techtudo

A commercial display has advanced anti-burn enablers to avoid this problem, making them more sustainable.

  • Interactivity: Unlike regular TVs, commercial digital signage can be made interactive through technologies like infrared, optical imaging, projected capacitive, and resistive touch technologies. These touch-screens run on special interactive software solutions, allowing an experience that is end-to-end personalized.

Cons of commercial digital signage displays

The biggest downside of commercial displays is the lofty hardware and installation costs. Commercial digital signage screens can start from around $700 to $900. Further, unlike a TV that comes with built-in stereo systems, tuners, and content apps, a commercial display might need plenty of modulation depending on your project’s complexity.

TV displays: Pros & cons

Many modern smart TVs have free apps to stream live or OTT content and play games. But if you need to show business content like brand advertisements, product promotions, welcome messages, or bulletin boards, you will need to download digital signage software on your TV.

Pros of TV display

  • HD resolutions are available: Most modern HD smart TVs offer a minimum of 1080p screen resolution, while 4K Ultra HD televisions are also plenty in the market. The picture quality of the content shown will be clearer, meaning you can view it better from a distance.

  • Pixel density is decent enough for commercial use: This is the winning bet for 4K TVs! The size and resolution of a screen determine its pixel density. A 32-inch display with 1080p resolution will have a much lower pixel density than a 55-inch display with a 4K resolution― making it the most in-demand TV screen category for digital signage.

  • Highly economical: Consumer TV displays cost much lower than commercial digital signage models. A regular home TV can cost as low as $100, whereas industrial-grade screens may cost as high as $1299.

  • Less hassle on set up: People testing the ROIs of digital sign software or digital signage in general for their businesses often go for the TV options. It is not only because of the low costs involved but also because of the easy setup process. Since commercial screens do not have a TV’s ‘sit-on-the-desk’ form factor, it requires the help of professional technicians for installation. With TV screens, you can do the installation yourself.

Cons of TV displays

Even though you opt for TV displays because of low investments, it will cost you more in the long run than commercial screens!

Why so?

TVs have a much shorter life span than commercial screens. A television with moderate operating hours will last for a maximum of 7 years. On the other hand, an industry-grade LED display will live for a minimum of 10 years. And taking price appreciation into account, the same TV screen you are using now will cost you much more than today’s commercial signage display, say, five years down the line.

3 best examples of indoor and outdoor commercial displays

While there are hundreds of efficient commercial screens available on the market, here are some of my favorites.

For outdoor use

  1. Samsung-OH55A-S
Image showing Samsung's OH55A-S commercial digital signage display
Image source: Samsung

Well, not many of us can imagine the word “digital” without Samsung’s name popping up somewhere in our minds!? And OH55A with its jaw-dropping design is just what you need to speak about a new product in the line, an event that people in town gotta check out, or the latest pre-holiday sale at your store!

Designed exclusively for businesses, Samsung’s top outdoor display is packed with robust hardware, that ensures longevity via optimized protection and an internal cooling system. The display is also UL-verified for outdoor visibility with brightness levels over 3,500nits making it visible from longer distances than ordinary commercial outdoor digital screens.

2. Mimo Myst Link outdoor display Image showing Mimo Myst Link, an outdoor digital signage display

Image source: Mimo Monitors

Mimo Monitors launched Mimo Myst Link, a first-of-a-kind small format touch displays designed for optimum outdoor performance. These are available with or without an Android player and work at an extended temperature range, from -28.8 to 60 degrees Celsius, making it ideal year-round, irrespective of the climatic conditions.

Additional features include 1500 nits and light sensors that adjust the display’s brightness during cloudy days and at night.

3.Raspberry Pi 7" multi-touch display

Image showing Raspberry Pi's 7-inch indoor digital signage display
Image source: Raspberry Pi

The trending name in the world of commercial displays, Raspberry Pi is here with a unique and cutesy solution to indoor digital signage screens - the 7-inch multitouch display! The display uses capacitive touch sensors and can detect upto 10 fingers at a time. The display resolution is 800 x 480 pixels and it comes with a virtual keyboard. Ideal for your office’s visitor management system or retail Point-of-Sale advertising.

3 best examples of indoor television display

Now, if you are planning to install a TV screen in your store to simply show a sports broadcast or play your product features when a customer is curious? Gotta check these three high-end, mid-budget, and low-cost screens with excellent reflection handling and good brightness levels that are sure to grab a few eyeballs!

1.Samsung QN90B QLED TV Image showing Samsung's QN90B QLED television display

Image source: Samsung

The best high-end television for stores or shops is the Samsung QN90B QLED. The signature 4K experience from Samsung’s 2022 TV lineup is packed with features that make it stand out. It uses Mini-LED backlight technology that offers fantastic brightness and impressive reflection handling features.

The smart TV built on the powerful Samsung Tizen OS has extra-wide viewing angle, making it an ideal digital signage display for small sports bars, cafeterias, convenience stores, churches, or traditional & hybrid classrooms.

2. Hisense U8H

Image showing Hisense's U8H TV display
Image source: Hisense

Hisense U8H is a TV display that falls under the moderate budget range. The display’s Mini LED technology, has brilliant anti-glare while adjusting the brightness level of the screen to perfection!

Hisense U8H runs the Google TV smart interface, allowing for a super-easy selection of streaming platforms! The greatest plus here is the system’s compatibility with voice assistants like Alexa that offer real “remote” control of what to play on the screen! Real time but with that unmissable human touch!

3.TCL 4 Series S446 2021

Image showing TCL's 4 Series S446 television model of 2021

Image source: TCL
add If it’s budget, it’s TCL 4 Series S446 of 2021! Great reflection handling, just about right even when sunlight bathes your store or office! This 65-inch model comes with a wide viewing angel, meaning the quality of the display video or image appears irrespective of which side of the screen you might be looking at! The TV also supports voice control and Alexa. It also has built-in Chromecast.

The Takeaway

There is no concrete answer to the commercial screen vs. TV display debate. It all depends on what your digital signage game plan is and how much you are willing to invest. As long as you are cognizant of the risks & benefits of each, you can take a calculated decision. The more important thing is to choose the right digital signage software because that is ultimately the tool that drives your content on screen.

If you are looking for digital signage software, you can avail a free demo & consultation or start a free 14-day trial to test our software platform on two displays (no credit card required for registration).

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Shivangi Chatterjee

Shivangi writes for Pickcel. She consumes knowledge on the world of business & marketing at the same rate she consumes her cups of coffee. When she is not writing, you will find her reading books, grooving to music or admiring art.

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