With the price of televisions becoming increasingly cheaper, we have started to see an increase in requests for LCD or Plasma screens to be installed into schools, to be used in the same manner that a lot of classrooms currently use data projectors to increase learning outcomes.
LCD panels provide superb image quality with greater resolution and are brighter than data projectors. When considering the price decrease in recent years; it is only natural that the interest level has risen. Whilst display panels certainly have some advantages over data projectors, the key distinction that a data projector and screen combo has over a display panel is the dollar cost per inch you achieve from each solution.
As Audio Visual integrators, there are various guidelines that, whilst may not always be critical to a working solution, we will always try to abide in order to achieve the best result for our client. In this particular instance, as a general rule we consider:
Essentially, if the image size is too small, the person sitting furthest away from the image will struggle to see what is being displayed and this will most likely result in a loss of interest and attention. We also consider whether the image size will be too big as this can also cause loss of interest due to a participant not being able to see the whole picture. Neck, eye and back strain from moving their heads from side to side should also be considered; however having a large screen is less of an issue in a school environment than the potential of having a screen that is too small.
As an example, in a standard classroom using our guidelines, we’d be looking at something that is approximately 80″ (203.2cm) when measured diagonally from the bottom left of an image to the top right. This is why we commonly provide an 84″ (213.4cm) pull-down screen when installing a data projector into a classroom environment. In comparison, the ‘sweet spot’ for LCD panels, in terms of value for money, sits between 40″ (101.6cm) to 46″ (116.8cm). For larger screens in the 70-80 inch range, cost rises to many tens of thousands very quickly.
The key consideration when making this decision is what the AV solution will be used for. If you are looking to teach a classroom of students, we would still recommend a data projector and screen in order to get an image size that is large enough to keep students interested. In smaller environments, LCD televisions are ideal.
For example, when looking for a solution catering for digital signage in a hallway, LCD options would be suitable. However, as a general rule, we don’t envisage LCD panels becoming cost effective enough to be considered direct replacements for projectors for a number of years yet, though we are certainly looking forward to the day this happens.