Finding the best digital directory display for your building, office or mall can seem like a daunting task. Just like TV shopping for your living room, there are some options and features that are absolutely essential, and some that are simply marketing ploys and gimmicks. Luckily, we’ve written a how-to guide for finding the perfect digital directory display to suit your needs!
We’ll take a look at:
- Types of Displays
- Key Feature Considerations
- Where to Buy & Pricing
Types of Displays
The first thing to ask yourself when looking for a digital directory display is, “What type of display fits my building’s needs?” Depending on your building, you may want to consider the following options:
Options for choosing a digital directory display
TVs are the most commonly used digital directory display for commercial buildings and office spaces. With TV prices constantly falling, you’ll be able to fill your lobby with a high-quality picture at the lowest possible price compared to TV alternatives. TVs are an especially cost-effective option if you are looking to expand your digital directory to multiple floors (instead of just your lobby).
Another major benefit of using a TV display is that it’s easy to put up more than one of them. Installing multiple displays in your building’s lobby will allow you to show other digital signage content alongside your directory, including promotions, tenant updates and information, weather, and tons more.
Kiosks are most commonly used in malls (both indoor and outdoor), where visitors are most likely to look for directory information in the middle of a public space. The main benefit of using a kiosk for your digital directory display is visibility. Visitors are more likely to see your display in the middle of a walkway as opposed to on a wall. Kiosks also make it easier for several people to view it at once, especially if it’s double-sided.
Depending on your software, you may still be able to show other digital signage content (like advertisements) in rotation with your directory.
Floor Stand Displays
Floor stand displays consist of tilted screens with an accompanying floor stand (around 40” tall or waist level). Floor stand displays are most commonly paired with interactive touchscreen technology, which also requires touchscreen software.
One of the issues with floor stand displays is their limited visibility. Unlike kiosks, floor stand displays offer a more personal experience, usually allowing for only one viewer at a time.
Enplug tip: We recommend using TV displays for commercial buildings and kiosk displays for malls. Not only are they more budget-friendly, but they also offer the most efficient viewing experience.
Key Feature Considerations
There are a few key features that will play a major part in the cost, picture quality, viewing experience and even energy efficiency of your digital directory display. Here’s what to consider:
Commercial vs. Consumer Grade
Commercial displays are made specifically for digital signage purposes (e.g. a digital directory), unlike consumer TVs. They can offer a far brighter picture than most consumer TVs, which is especially useful during the daytime, and they’re also designed to withstand long operating hours to avoid overheating and image burn-in.
Commercial displays are your best bet for a digital directory and will give you fewer troubles with other features like warranty timeline and RS-232 support.
LED vs. LCD vs. Plasma
With the prices of LED displays dropping, the debate over what is the best screen type has been pretty much settled. When considering display thickness, power usage, and image quality, LED takes the cake.
LCDs are not ideal, but can get the job done if price is a concern or you have some already in stock. We do however recommend staying away from plasma displays for any sort of digital signage (including directories). While plasma displays offer deep blacks and high-quality video playback, they are susceptible to “screen burn-in” and lack the brightness and low-power usage features of LED displays.
While touchscreen display prices have come down a good amount, the price for a highly responsive screen will still be greater than non-touchscreen alternatives. And with the cost of maintaining touchscreen displays and software, it may not be worth the investment.
Another issue with using touchscreen displays for a digital directory is the viewing experience. Touchscreen directories will only allow for one user at a time, which can delay other visitors from getting on their way. They also become dirty easily, for obvious reasons, which can further affect the viewing experience.
In 2015, the display resolution question has transitioned from “720p or 1080p?” to “1080p or 4K?”
While 4K displays look fantastic, it’s hard to turn away from the quickly dropping 1080p price tag. Some digital directory software still only supports 1080p, so for that reason alone, 1080p resolution is a safe bet.
There are many factors that can affect which display size you choose. How many displays do you plan on using? How many tenants do you have? What is your display’s resolution?
If customers can closely read and engage with your display (or be within at least 10 feet), there’s no real mathematical solution to determining screen size. We do recommend using at least a 42” display no matter how small your building size so more than one person can look on at a time. Although as always, the bigger the better!
If for some reason visitors can’t get within at least 10 feet of your display, see below for choosing an optimal display size based on viewing distance:
Choosing your refresh rate will ultimately depend on your digital directory use-case. If you plan on integrating other digital signage content in rotation with your digital directory board, we recommend upgrading to 120Hz. However if all you’re displaying is a simple static digital directory, 60Hz will do you just fine!
Portrait Board Support
Many digital directories are shown in portrait orientation rather than landscape, especially if the directory is large. It’s important to make sure your digital display is portrait-mode compatible. A major factor is the display’s bezel, or the frame around your display’s edges. A portrait-compatible display will have no logos on the surrounding bezel, which will also be an even width on all four sides of the display. Most commercial displays are portrait-compatible.
It’s important to make sure your display has an RS-232 input (which your digital signage device can plug into, alongside HDMI). With RS-232, you’ll be able to control the operating hours for your display, rather than manually turning your displays on and off. Some displays come with operating hours features built into them (no RS-232 required). Again, most commercial displays come with RS2-232, while most consumer TVs don’t.
For example, with Enplug, you can log into your account in the Enplug web dashboard to change your display’s operating hours, or even see whether your display is currently powered on. This is only possible because of RS-232 connectivity.
As mentioned above, it’s important to make sure your display has both HDMI and RS-232 inputs for maximum functionality.
Most consumer TVs offer 90-day warranties, while most commercial displays offer two years.
No matter which type of display you end up choosing, you should purchase using a credit card, as many offer extended warranties on electronics (check out Visa, MasterCard, American Express, and Discover’s policies). Services like squaretrade.com are also available for post-purchase warranty plans.
Where to Buy & Pricing
Depending on your display type (TV, kiosk, or floor stand) pricing will vary. Generally, a high-quality 42” commercial grade display can be purchased for less than $700. This is the cheapest option for a digital directory. Both kiosks and floor stands are priced upward of $1500, with touchscreen displays starting at around $2500.
For a high-quality and cost-efficient display for your digital directory, we recommend using ViewSonic.