LED Signs are Not Outdoor TVs

LED signs continue to expand into a variety of settings across the world. More affordability, better designs and higher resolutions are driving this growth. Unfortunately, some companies in the industry give the impression that an LED sign is essentially an “Outdoor” TV.  Let’s talk about why it’s important to understand this misnomer, and the differences between LED signs and HD TVs or Monitors.

LED Signs vs HD TVs

While marketing an LED sign as an outdoor TV might help create excitement and generate sales, it’s a disservice to display owners who find they’ve spent a lot of money on a product that doesn’t meet their expectations. LED signs and TVs are built and used very differently. Here are some key differences.

LED Signs

  • Outdoor usage or large open indoor spaces.
  • Viewed at a distance.
  • Physically large, but lower resolution.
  • Used for easy to read ads, short and to the point, or special uses like sports or live video.
  • Can reach thousands of viewers at once.

HD TV’s or Monitors

  • Indoor spaces.
  • Viewed close up.
  • Physically smaller, but much higher resolutions.
  • Used for a wider range of content like menus, wayfinding, video, and more in-depth advertising.
  • Reaches a smaller number of viewers at once, usually less than double digits.

Why the Confusion?

It’s normal to assume an LED sign is just a bigger version of your computer monitor or TV.  Some find it easier to present LED signs in this way, and high profile installations like building sized displays in Las Vegas, or massive “Jumbotrons” in football stadiums do start to reach “HD” type resolutions. However, those displays are meant to be viewable from an extremely long distance, and are incredibly expensive. For the majority of LED displays, even digital billboards, this HD resolution is not required or cost effective. It comes down to finding the right size, pixel pitch, and resolution for your unique needs.

Pixel Pitch and Resolution (Matrix)

The number of pixels you can fit in a display is determined by how closely each pixel can be to each other. For LED signs, this is measured using Pixel Pitch (the distance between pixels in Millimeters) and this helps determine the resolution for a given area. The tighter the pitch, the higher the resolution can be. For example, an LED sign with a 6mm pitch can fit more LED’s in the same area, making it double the resolution of a 12mm display of the same size. Check out our previous post on Pixel Pitch for a great summary on how this works.


LED Signs from a Distance

An HD TV at 1080×1920 resolution fits about 2 million pixels within an area that you can mount to your wall, or use on your laptop monitor. LED signs however, don’t need as many pixels because they are much larger and all those extra pixels would go to waste. Instead, a standard LED sign at 100×200 resolution has 20 thousand pixels, but looks great because it’s very large and viewed from a distance.

That being said, LED signs do vary in size, viewing distance, and pixel pitch so you might see a higher resolution sign for indoor or ground level applications. But the majority of LED signs are going to fall within the 8mm – 16mm range. Tighter pitches are certainly available and serve an important role for indoor, sports, spectaculars, and very close viewing applications. But these are much more expensive and often not needed for traditional street-side signage.

The Role of Content

Content plays a big role in effective use of an LED sign. Remembering who your audience is, how long they have to look at the sign and how far away they are is key to finding the right size, resolution and pitch for your unique needs. After installation, creating content using strong fonts, high contrast colors, and efficient messages will ensure your sign stands out from the rest. An LED sign doesn’t need to be an outdoor TV, it is far stronger being used as a digital sign with great content.

Why Vantage LED

We are committed to an amazing long term experience and promote quality content through education, our professional content service, and stand behind our product with a host of benefits like our 7 year warranty and professional support for the lifetime of the display. We have an amazing network of dealers that can make sure you get the right size, pixel pitch, resolution and accessories that match your unique needs. Reach out today and we’ll get you connected!

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