5 Reasons to Use Commercial Grade LCD Screens for Digital Menu Boards

So you have decided to go the digital menu board route, which is excellent. You are forward-thinking enough to see the value in such a system - the ability to test market items, control inventory, promote specials and limited time offers, change your content quickly and easily and the list goes on. All of this is great, but our kudos comes to a screeching halt when you decide to go the consumer or residential LCD route for your display purposes.

We get the mentality, “I can buy two 40” LCDs from Wal-Mart for less than one of those commercial grade LCDs.”  A compelling argument and one that we at Origin Displays tend to not do battle with… but maybe we should. You see, there are stark differences between consumer televisions and commercial grade LCDs and choosing the incorrect LCD will cause nothing but frustration and wasted time and money.

As a result, the following is a list of reasons as to why you should get out of Costco, Wal-Mart, BestBuy, etc, and steer toward commercial grade LCDs:


Digital Menu Boards, Menu BoardsReason #1 – Digital signage is their purpose.

The title says it all. Commercial grade LCDs are manufactured for the purpose of constant use in retail and commercial environments. All others serve their purpose, like on the wall of my den. Just consider what the screens in your house are subjected to as opposed to those in a restaurant.  According to the A.C. Nielsen Co., the average American watches approximately 4 hours of TV each day. Now consider the daily hours of your restaurant. My guess is that it is greater than 4 hours. Moreover, your television at home is not subjected to the dust build-up, differences in temperature, traffic, grease and other factors that riddle restaurants.

Lastly, commercial grade screens have other amenities that are specific to the use of digital signage.  They have built-in clocks and timers to make certain the unit is turned off during non-use. This not only minimizes the draw on electricity but also maintains continuity with the media player and/or software that is driving the images on to the screen. We know of several instances where a consumer LCD is turned off at the end of the day and it “disconnects” from the media player/software.  As a result, the scheduling, aspect ratios, playback, etc. are disrupted when the screens are turned back on in the morning.

Reason #2 – They are made differently.

As digital signage has matured, manufacturers have determined what works best for the screen. One area that has seen the most adjustments are the LCDs’ enclosures. Often referred to as a screen’s frame, an LCDs housing is comprised of a bezel (which goes around the viewable area of the screen) and a casing (that covers the back). Commercial screens’ enclosures are given more rigidity in order to withstand the elements encountered in retail spaces.

Samsung.com adds:

The screen itself is also a factor, with commercial grade screens often touting enhanced glass modules designed for long hours of operation and that are less sensitive to image retention issues. True commercial models use a commercial grade glass that has multiple layers allowing for 7/24/365 operation cycles.

Lastly, cooling systems have become key selling points found on many commercial grade screens. Consumer products use fancy plastic bezels and encasements that don’t allow for proper cooling of internal electronics. Commercial models will have full ventilation and/or cooling fans to maintain a consistent temperature for longer life. Heat is the number one cause of ‘tiger-striping’ or ‘mura’ in LCD technology and once it’s occurred, the units are permanently damaged.

Reason #3 – You can flip, flop them around.

Commercial grade LCDs allow you to hang them either in landscape mode (horizontal) or portrait (vertical). This flexibility endears itself to many more settings than the standard landscape.

Beyond the fact that consumer LCDs are not engineered with this capability, most have bezels that are oddly shaped for digital signage. “Content is king,” and since commercial grade screens have uniform bezels around the unit, it is less likely that they will draw attention away from what is most important – what’s being displayed on the screen.

Reason #4 – Check the warranty, baby!

Commercial grade screens carry a 3-year on-site warranty that includes parts and labor.  Perhaps the most important factor is that the warranty carries no restrictions on the (indoor) environment you are displaying them in.  Put another way, if you buy a screen and (for example) 950 days later it fails on you, it will be repaired or you will receive a new screen. Conversely, consumer products carry a 1-year warranty; however this is reduced to 90 days or NOTHING if used in a commercial setting. Consumer products usually specify within the documentation that use over and beyond four to six hours a day will void the warranty. In addition, this is typically a depot warranty where you would have to pack the unit up and send/take it to be fixed.

Reason #5 – They have a longer lifespan.

We have touched on the way the screens are made and why they are ideal for a digital menu board system, but it is the lifespan that links the two together. Because the screens are manufactured in the way they are, they inherently last longer which makes them ideal for digital signage.

More from Samsung.com

Commercial grade flat screens are built with heavy-duty parts and components designed to handle the wear and tear. These quality parts also extend the lifespan of commercial screens far beyond that of consumer models, something that is critically important when one considers the difference in operating hours between the two. Many deployers demand 12-15 hour days out of their screens and locations like airports may never turn the screens off. 

Of note, most commercial LCDs are rated for over 50,000 hours of continuous use and this number is steadily growing. On the flip side, the lifespan of a consumer LCD comes in around half that time and they are not meant for more than 8 hours of daily use.

To Summarize:

  • You’re not at fault if you have decided to go the consumer route when it comes to your LCDs. Most people do not know the difference between consumer and commercial grade LCDs.
  • Consumer LCDs are cheaper, but they are not intended for digital signage.
  • Spending a little bit more money up-front for commercial grade LCDs will give you years of peace of mind.
  • Beyond the durability, the potential hiccups in compatibility with media players and software should alone dissuade you from consumer products.

Want more information?  Check out a digital menu board solution that uses commercial grade LCDs or call me today at 888-235-2579!