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LED Video Wall vs. Projection

I have been seeing more and more stories about churches choosing to purchase and install LED video walls to replace projection systems and it really bothers me.

It bothers me because of what I look at as a bad financial investment and poor stewardship being traded for cool new technology that doesn't function any better than a properly configured and designed projection system; yet costs at least double or triple as much.

I was recently doing a price comparison for a 5.5"Hx18'W image area display system and I was comparing LED video walls, LCD TV walls and projection. My first quote for an LED video wall was nearly $400,000! Subsequent quotes were not able to get below $100,000 so I knew that option was out. The LCD TV wall quotes were coming in at or above $35,000, which wasn't an option, either. That left projection, which let me with a smaller image area, but only a $12,000 cost with two laser projectors, which would give me around 20,000 hours. I wasn't going to get that kind of lifespan out of LCD TVs and LED video walls do have maintenance and a lot of particulars that go into keeping them functioning. One of the big "features" about LED video walls is that they will last a long time because you rarely run them at full brightness, which extends their lifespan. However, there are service calls, LED modules go out over time and you have to ensure that you order spare modules with the original kit and they have to be made from the same LED batch to make sure the colors and brightness match. The longer and LED video wall goes and the LED modules get "burned in," the harder it is to match those modules with replacement ones. On and on the list goes.

When I was doing the total cost of ownership calculations, I was getting an anticipated lifespan of over 50 years with the LED video wall, but technology will change in that span of time and it will likely be outdated and needing upgrading within 10 years, if not sooner. I cannot justify the cost for my client and I cannot see the value in larger screens, honestly, in a church. Not when I can get nearly 10 projection systems for the lowest quote I received for an LED video wall!

LCD TV walls have issues, as well, with color matching and drift over time; you can see the bezels which do not help sell a cohesive image, they are harder to install due to mounting requirements, professional-grade LCD monitors cost thousands of dollars, and there would still be service calls.

My overall view of display technologies is that unless you need a 70" display or smaller, I can give you a larger image for the same cost that will have fewer service calls with a projection solution. People worry about washed out images with ambient lights, etc. but it's all about choosing the right screen material, size and projector combination; I can provide an image just as bright with just as much, if not more, contrast than a TV given the right combination of screen material and projector.

Know what you are getting before you jump on the bandwagon of new technology that looks and sounds cool!

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