Market Insight

High density LED video displays - key for LED Video entry into high-end indoor signage market

January 21, 2015

Sanju Khatri Sanju Khatri Director, Consulting and Strategic Advisory Services

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High density LED video displays are quickly gaining prominence in the digital signage industry.  For many years one millimeter pixel pitch was thought to be the ultimate limit for resolution but since mid-2014, multiple LED video manufacturers have been successful in breaking the barrier of sub-one millimeter pixel pitch resolution, stacking it right against high brightness outdoor LCDs.

LED video displays with pixel pitch below 5mm can be categorized as high density displays. These LED video display system typically consists of the following components – 3-in-1 SMD LEDs, high-definition display control system and a cooling system. It utilizes pixel-level control point technology to achieve better pixel level brightness, and more precise and uniform control of the state of the pixel color. Tighter pixel pitch makes it possible for the image to be viewed from close distance.  

There are several high density LED video display manufacturers worldwide, with most of them concentrated in China.  More than 20 companies in China have launched high density LED video display products in 2014, including Leyard, Unilumin, Liantronics, Absen, ESDlumen, Shanghai Sansitech, MR.LED and Chipshow. The world record for tightest pixel pitch is currently held by Leyard which developed a 0.7mm PP LED video display in August 2014. Mass produced high density LED displays are usually in the range of 1.5mm to 4mm. 

Stiff competition in the traditional LED video display market have led to price wars and shrinking profit margins, driving manufacturers to seek new opportunities. However high density LED video display technology has enabled manufacturers to enter into new high-end markets such as retail showrooms, shopping centers, corporate signage and airports, which offer substantially higher profit margins. Many high density LED video displays were introduced to developed markets outside of China in 2014, led by Absen and Unilumin. Both companies announced strong year-on-year growth in their 2014 shipments which they attributed to international sales and new streams of revenue from sales of high density LED video products.

High density LED video displays have several advantages over the more prevalent display technologies like large format LCDs. High density LED video displays win in brightness, longer product lifespan, ruggedness, scalability and ease of maintenance.  Additionally unlike LCD video walls, high density LED has nearly zero bezel-to-bezel width, offering seamless viewing experience.  However, the biggest hurdle to its widespread adoption is its high cost. High density LED technology is more expensive than rear projection, LCD, plasma and even OLED. Additionally, such tight packaging of LED SMDs results in increased brightness.  This is an undesirable side effect for indoor applications which typically require less than 1000 nits of brightness.   Manufacturers are still working on controlling the brightness on high density LED video displays without compromising on the quality of image produced.

Even though high density LED video display technology has many advantages, it still needs to position itself carefully with respect to other competing technology and the benefits it can bring to different application market segments. While the lower end of the professional indoor displays market is dominated by LCD technology, high density LED video display technology can target the higher end of the market. IHS forecasts high density LED video display product worldwide shipments to achieve 93% year on year growth in 2015, almost double its current market share of the total LED video display market in 2014. Stable growth is expected to continue after 2015, with high density LED video display’s market share to reach 5% by 2018, which translates to more than 10,000 square meters in sales.

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