Consumer TVs vs. Commercial TV Displays
You have likely seen consumer TVs everywhere you look. You have probably also seen commercial TV displays – you just might not have thought much about it. So what should you choose for your business when you would like to add digital signage for your lobby or other areas, install a TV in a break room, plan for TVs to be used in hospitality applications like hotels and motels, or install a large-screen display or touch display for use in a conference room? What is the difference between a consumer and a commercial or professional display? Are all commercial displays the same, and how do you choose the best one for your application? These are some of the questions that you may have. Let’s talk about them. Of course, if you still have questions, feel free to reach out to us and let us help you determine what makes the most sense for your needs.
Ok, first let’s take a look at some general application differences. Typically, a consumer TV is designed just for viewing TV so that you can take it home and watch consumer video formats such as TV, Blu-ray, streaming services, etc. and they are normally used a few hours a day, and that’s about it. The uses for a display in a commercial setting vary widely. Examples include a display in a lobby or waiting area displaying TV programs, digital signage, way-finding kiosk, menu board at a restaurant where there can be higher temperatures, more exposure to dust, grease, etc., or perhaps a large-screen touch enabled display for use in a conference room. The amount of time they are typically on vary anywhere from a couple hours a day to 24/7 and 365 days a year. Because of this, there a wide variety of commercial displays built for different types of applications; most professional displays have quite a few differences, so let’s take a look at some of the key differences.
Consumer displays are warrantied for just that: consumer use. That means it is warrantied for a period of time, (usually one year) for use in your home. If you look closely at consumer warranties, you will almost always find somewhere that specifies the warranty is only valid for consumer use. Some will say that the, “warranty is void if used in a commercial space,” while there are one or two that will say something like, “For commercial use, the warranty is 90 Days parts and labor.” In any case, if you are looking for a display for your business, the warranty is something to take into consideration. Most commercial displays typically carry a 3 years parts and labor warranty – with some extending to 5 years, and a few light commercial displays only covering 2 years. Often times, businesses may use consumer displays simply because they weren’t aware that commercial options exist, or, they didn’t know where to find them. Another difference between a consumer and commercial warranty is that a consumer warranty is typically warranted to carry-in-service, whereas a commercial warranty likely covers on-site service. Who wants to have to bring in an 80” or 90” display for repairs, right? With a commercial set, they come to you and take care of it if it needs to go in for service and can’t be fixed on site.
Initial and Long Term Cost
Cost is a big part of a purchase decision. Often times consumer displays get used in a business because people are under the assumption that a commercial display will cost significantly more, or they don’t even know commercial options exist. While it is true that typically commercial models tend to cost more than the same size consumer TV, there is a wide price range of commercial displays, with some coming very close to the price of similarly-sized consumer TVs and offering better warranties, while others with specific features may cost significantly more. Additionally, something to think about when considering displays is the cost of ownership over time. If the display is planned to be in place for a long time a commercial display will likely outlast a consumer TV and, in the long run, cost less than a consumer TV (due to the build quality, durability, and other features).
Enclosure Appearance / Uniform Aesthetics
One of the benefits of commercial displays is that they will maintain the same cosmetic look for years (which is desirable when adding panels over time), whereas consumer models change on at least a yearly basis. If you are adding displays in your facility year after year, you can maintain the same look and feel by going with a commercial display.
Another difference found in commercial monitors are the size and shape of the bezel. “A display’s enclosure is comprised of a bezel which goes around the viewable area of the screen and a casing that covers the back. Commercial screen enclosures have been toughened to withstand the “elements” involved in deployments. For example, digital menu boards in restaurants have to withstand high heat and even grease, while screens in rail stations have to be resistant to dust.” Commercial displays come in varying sizes of bezel, from standard to ultra-narrow bezel designed for video wall applications. The thinner the bezel, the more expensive the display. Consumer chassis are designed more for aesthetics and generally aren’t appropriate for business settings, while industrial designed commercial displays are designed with clean, symmetrical lines and often don’t include the manufacturer’s logo.
Consumer displays generally are designed to work well for lighting conditions that are controlled or somewhat controlled. Brightness is rated for displays in terms of Nits or Candelas squared (cd/m2.)
Consumer Televisions usually fall in the range of 150-250 Nits, which is fine for most viewing at home. However, in brightly lit conditions often found in commercial or retail spaces, higher brightness is desired. Commercial displays range in brightness depending on the series, ranging anywhere from 300-2000 Nits for outdoor, full sunlight applications.
TV or Monitor?
What is the difference between a TV and a monitor? In a nutshell, a television will have a tuner to pick up broadcast, or cable stations, as well as have built-in speakers. Technically speaking, a monitor alone does not contain a tuner – it simply displays the signal from one or more inputs. However, many professional displays may have a built-in tuner, or come as an option. Similarly, some professional displays will not have speakers, while others may have them built in, or also come as an optional add on accessory.
Features and Extras
There are many other additional features that are found in professional displays:
- Control – RS232 or Ethernet (Lan control) are designed for control and monitoring, and is usually not found in consumer displays, but allows for greater flexibility and more precise control of a display’s features and functions without having to use a remote. Designed for easier integration into a controlled or automated system.
- Orientation – Consumer TVs are designed only to be used in landscape orientation – the way you would watch TV at home. However, portrait orientation is often desirable for applications in commercial settings. Some commercial displays are designed to be used in either orientation – meaning they will cool properly regardless of which orientation they are used in. Most consumer warranties are voided if the TV is used in a portrait orientation.
- Built in scheduling – Besides having more control options than a consumer TV, commercial displays often have built-in or externally managed ways of scheduling them to turn on and off on a schedule.
- Connectivity – Consumer displays are usually limited to HDMI, and perhaps legacy composite and/or component video. Professional displays will usually have more types of inputs including HDMI, display port, DVI, VGA, as well as component and composite video. Often times they will also include video loop-output.
- PC Sync – Consumer displays are usually designed to handle consumer video formats and limited PC resolutions, making image scaling and screen fit difficult or often impossible. Professional displays are designed to handle a wide range of multi-sync supported resolutions making it possible to properly size and fit the screen.
- Hospitality – displays designed for hospitality have specific functions making them especially good for use in hotels, motels, hospitals, or other applications where consumer-like features are needed, but more control is desired – such as being able to lock out certain features, menus, etc.
- Finish – Consumer displays typically have a glossy finish to the glass, which is usually fine for use in a home where there are not a lot of lights, windows, and other possible points of reflection and glare. However glare in a commercial setting can be not only distracting, but prevent important information from being seen. Commercial models have varying types of matte, and anti-glare coatings to provide the best readability and visibility.
- Slot based, or on-board PC or media players – Commercial displays often offer slots for options for PC modules or come with built-in digital signage media players.
- Screen/Glass – The screen itself is also a factor. Commercial grade screens often tout having enhanced glass modules designed for long hours of operation and that are less sensitive to image retention issues. “True commercial models use a commercial grade glass that has multiple layers allowing for 7/24/365 operation cycles.”
- Handles – often times commercial panels will have detachable handles that help with installation, and mounting
- Built-in Amplifier/speaker output – step up commercial displays often have built-in amplifiers with speaker terminals that work great to add some external or in-ceiling speakers, a great example for a use like this is a small conference room, with a commercial display on the wall, having a built-in amplifier saves on cost and adding additional equipment but allows for improved sound quality and coverage.
In Summary – Which is Right For You?
If you are in need of displays for your business, school, or other commercial setting, knowing the difference between consumer and commercial panels can save you money in the long run. The more robust build, glass, greater control ability, and extended warranty will provide peace of mind that your message will be both seen and heard for years. If you need further help in identifying your needs and recommendations, feel free to reach out to us. We’re here to help!