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Screen Dilemma: Native vs Maximum resolution

Posted: October 20, 2009 at 2:00 pm   /   by   /   comments (0)

This seems to be a common dilemma amongst a number of LCD/Plasma decisions in a lot of tender projects and client requirements. Do clients really know what they are asking for, and how important is screen resolution for digital signage rollouts?

Let’s clear a few things up first.

What is Native and Maximum resolution?

Native resolution is the fixed number of pixels on the screen. For example, if your screen has a native resolution of 1280×720 pixels, this means your screen is physically made up of 1280 pixels wide and 720 pixels high.

Maximum resolution is the highest resolution that the screen is capbable to display.

Conversion and Scaling

When an incoming signal to the screen does not match the native resolution, that signal must be converted (or scaled) to be displayed correctly on the screen. So lets use the same screen above, it has a native resolution of 1280×720. If an incoming signal is 1920×1080, the screen will scale this resolution down so that it can fit on the physical dimensions of 1280×720. Likewise if an incoming signal is 1024×768, then the screen will up-scale this resolution to fit 1280×720.

This process is possible because the screen has been programmed to recognise different input signals and to convert them as such. More often than not you will have a list of all the supported input signal resolution sizes, and the highest supported resolution is your Maximum resolution.

Now that we have that out of the way, lets talk about how important is screen resolution in digital signage?

In all my digital signage years until now, I have not had to focus on optimising the quality of the display in regards to picture sharpness and contrast ratio. The general technology of the Plasma/LCD screen makes up for this. What comes out of the digital signage player is just right for the display quality. The general conversation would be on how to most effectively capture consumers attention with the type of content and how it is designed.

However recently in Australia, digital broadcasting of TV networks have become more prominent and consumers are now well aware of terms like HDTV. This presence of high definition television has entered many homes and now the retail store fronts want to show this off also. Because consumers are already aware of such technology, there is an expectation on store owners to provide this service to them.

The question comes back to client requirements. Do most clients have the proper knowledge to determine what screens they want based on what they know or what they have been told? Is it important to match the right resolution of what is coming from the digital receiver into the digital signage player, and out to the screen?

We’d like to hear your point of view on this topic. There is no right or wrong answer, as each requirements are different, but we would like to hear your thoughts.


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