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InfoComm 2013 — being held this week at the Orange County Convention Center in Orlando, Florida — was once primarily a projector show. There are still a lot of projectors to be seen, but the center of gravity has moved to flat panels, and if you were looking for two words to describe this year’s InfoComm, they would be LED and 4K. (A third word would be Interactive, but I don’t have space to cover that here.)

LED signs in dizzying variety and dazzling brightness dominated the digital signage pavilion. Triluminous LEDs — red, blue, and green LED chips in a single package — were common, and permitted pixel pitches that were unheard of only a few years ago. Together with the traditional 6, 9, and 12 millimeter pitch, one could see pitches of 3.5, 2.9, and even 2.5 millimeters. Glux North American Regional Sales Manager Seth Beisher said Glux could have a 2.0mm pitch available later this year, and that the company was working on 1.0mm, but that they did not expect 1.0mm to be commercially available for several years.

An LED display with a 2.5-3.0mm pixel pitch is a remarkable device: fast, very bright, and with very acceptable resolution at the distances from which people usually view them. At 1.0-2.0mm, they will be able to compete with LCDs in some traditional large-scale LCD applications.

One narrow view of the profusion of LED signs on display at InfoComm 2013.  (Photo:  Ken Werner)

One narrow view of the profusion of LED signs on display at InfoComm 2013.  (Photo: Ken Werner)

We heard that a cinema with an LED screen had been built in Shenzhen, with others planned. The same source went on to see that a pitch of 4 to 5 mm is adequate for a cinema screen. As pitch decreases, one impediment that remains to even greater dissemination of LED displays is price, with numbers in the range of $10,000 per square meter being quoted to use more than once. But even at those prices, LED signs are a growth business.

In addition to pitch, the LED story includes a huge variety and the availability of modules from many vendors in standard sizes. On display were transparent LED displays, spherical displays, hanging displays, and modular displays. There were displays designed to be used as floors.

All of the major LCD signage vendors — including Sharp, LG, and Samsung — were showing Ultra HD (4Kx2K) displays, some with interactive or with display-to-display communications abilities. But the big news came from Sharp, who announced on Wednesday the commercial availability at all Sharp dealers and distributors its 4Kx2K 32-inch professional monitor with IGZO backplane, with availability effective immediately. There were demonstrations of the 32-inch in three key applications: financial trading, CAD-CAM, and cinema production. All of these are applications where very fine detail is presented to a user who sits close to his monitor.

xSharp 32-in 4K

Sharp’s 4Kx2K 32-inch monitor is now available to anyone with $5859 (MSRP) to spend. The 4K monitor is on the left; a full HD monitor on the right. (Photo: Ken Werner)

InfoComm was predicting an attendance of close to 35,000 people, which would be similar to last year. Many of those 35,000 people are far more sophisticated than the InfoComm attendees of a decade ago, who were often proprietors of mom-and-pop audio/video stores trying to figure out which projectors to stock. This is a different InfoComm.

Ken Werner is Principal of Nutmeg Consultants, specializing in the display industry, display manufacturing, display technology, and display applications. You can reach him at kwerner@nutmegconsultants.com.

Posted by Ken Werner, June 12, 2013 8:46 PM

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About Ken Werner

Kenneth I. Werner is the founder and Principal of Nutmeg Consultants, which specializes in the display industry, display technology, display manufacturing, and display applications. He serves as Marketing Consultant for Tannas Electronic Displays (Orange, California) and Senior Analyst for Insight Media. He is a founding co-editor of and regular contributor to Display Daily, and is a regular contributor to HDTVexpert.com and HDTV Magazine. He was the Editor of Information Display Magazine from 1987 to 2005.