Not all digital signage displays are built the same, and that’s particularly true with stretched displays that are outside the 16:9 norm we’re all used to seeing.
Stretched displays are those screens that come with diagonal ratios such as 32 x 9 or 18 x 9. They are “stretched” from the conventional screens that usually have that diagonal ratio of 16 measurement units wide by 9 high.
The market is huge for conventional 16:9 displays, but there is steady growth and interest in using stretched displays, sometimes called bar displays. As awareness of this relatively new format has grown, so has adoption – because these slimmer screens can do the work of digital promotion without eating up the same physical footprint as a regular screen.
For instance where the digital signage is to be used in conjunction with some other physical objects, be it a shelf with products for sale or when there are physical restraints and not enough space for a conventional display, a stretched display is arguably the better option.
These stretched displays are getting used because they change the design and look cool – very different from TV-like display monitors.
These screens have a wide range of applications:
Quick Service Restaurant (QSR)
For QSRs, stretched displays may make the difference between customers fully or only partially seeing menu boards. A conventional 16:9 screen is sometimes obstructed by the clerks standing or walking behind the counter. This problem is particularly acute at sites where ceilings are low and the distance between the menu board and the clerks is short. Stretched displays can allow digital to be used, but sit above staff heads, or even nest on or in front of an order counter.
How They’re Made
So we’ve established the utility of stretched displays. But it’s important when thinking about using these screens to understand the electronics and process behind them, so that end-users make the right selection.
These displays are manufactured in two primary ways:
- Some solutions providers purchase open cells (generally speaking, liquid crystal displays without the back-lights) in their original glass form, and then cut them into desired sizes for stretched displays, and then install the back-lights and other components.
- Other display manufacturers design stretched displays from the start with a photo mask manufacturing process that is tailored for the specific sizes of the stretched displays. The cost of designing different photo masks is usually higher than the cutting process.
There’s a reason for that higher cost, as natively-designed stretched displays have several technical advantages. For example, such displays made by AU Optronics (AUO), one of the few LCD manufacturers who make these customized stretched screens, have the following features:
- Displays with customized photo masks have higher quality and better performance, as the cutting process which may cause vapor leakage or darkened images at the cutting edges;
- Native bar displays come with an anti-glare coating layer and high brightness (1,500 nits maximum), which allows full visibility in direct sunlight, inside and outdoors;
- Built-in auto ambient light sensors adjust display brightness to fit different environments, and can save power when displaying content during night time (the brightness auto-dials down);
- Long operating lives because these displays pass EN50155 quality testing and are rated for 50,000 hours (running 24/7);
- The bars support landscape and portrait orientation, which may not necessarily be the case with cut displays;
- Comes with narrow-border suitable for video walls;
- Built-in speaker for audio.
Stretched displays are usually used in commercial and public environments, and therefore require a more rugged features to withstand harsher conditions, especially when the displays are playing content continuously for months and years. With that in mind, the payback should be quick on the natively-designed stretched displays, which have quality and durability attributes superior to stretched displays manufactured by cutting.
Next time, when you consider using a stretched display, be sure to ask how the screens are made. The manufacturing process does matter.
Photo Credit: ComQi
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