RMG Networks Blog

Have you ever walked into a corporate lobby, retail store, hotel or any venue and thought, “Wow, that digital signage display is too large!”

large_screen_in_bank

Humorous, but of course not.

Most of the time, if anything, displays are commonly undersized. Why? Well, while 55” seems large in the intimate setting of your living room watching the latest best-selling blu-ray, the affect may be lost in a different environment with a different purpose.

What do you need to keep in mind when selecting screen size for your business?

A 55” display is the viewable distance from corner to corner diagonally across the screen. Assuming a 16×9 widescreen display, this equates roughly to a height of 27 inches and width of 48 inches.

There are formulae from every TV manufacturer and standards committees such as SMPTE or THX to suggest screen sizes and are mostly geared toward consumer entertainment applications.

Don’t get confused if you start researching the web for the correct formula to use. Your specific application may differ. The important thing is to use a formula (or any formula) as a starting point, not an ending point.

Here are a few examples of different formulas and applications, and their resulting viewable distance. 

General at-a-glance viewing or video

  • 4 x 55” diagonal = 220” (or about 18 feet) viewable distance
  • 8 x 27” height = 216” (or 18 feet) viewable distance

Reading text or data

  • 6 x 27” height = 162” (or 13+ feet) viewable distance

 

These examples assume you are using the entire full screen to display your content. Are you? Often the display is segmented to display multiple content items.

For example, on that same 55” display, let’s say we want to include a side panel graphic. Reserving 12 inches width for this content leaves us with 36 inches of width for our main content which is effectively the same as a 42” display.

 screen

 

This changes our viewable distance from the previous examples.  

General at-a-glance viewing or video

  • 4 x 42” diagonal = 168” (or about 14 feet) viewable distance
  • 8 x 20” height = 160” (or 13+ feet) viewable distance

Reading text or data

  • 6 x 20” height = 120” (or 10 feet) viewable distance


Even though you started with a 55” display, because of the content requirements and screen real estate limits, you are effectively limiting the viewing distance of the display by several feet and shrinking the content. This may or may not be a negative; but it is definitely something that needs considering during the design phase.

Likewise, why put the current temperature nestled in the corner of screen when its “real life” size on a 55” screen is nearly the size of your thumbnail and not truly viewable beyond 6 feet from the display. Is that the intended audience range? Probably not. This is another reason to make sure all content is viewable at your target distance.

Screen size is certainly only one factor of many to consider in your digital signage deployment. It works in coordination with screen placement, lighting, other environmental factors, and of course (and most importantly) content!

So you have a formula to determine display size, but how about content? How large a font should you use to get your message across and easy to read? As a general rule of thumb, it is recommended to have 1 inch of font height for every 10 feet in desired viewing audience distance.

Now you’re ready to configure your optimal signage and content size.

But, even in our high tech world, old school methods still work.

I was with a customer once who used a properly sized cardboard cutout pattern of a TV they were considering and taped it onto the rich marble wall to get an idea of what it would look like and how much space it would occupy. They used white poster board and markers to write some sample content to understand what font dimensions were required to reach the furthest intended viewer. I thought it was a brilliant idea and was glad to see so much interest and consideration into making sure not only the correct display size was chosen, but more importantly, the proper content size. Well done!

Whether, you use a high tech online calculator or poster board cutouts, you have begun a very important process of considering what is important to you and your viewers.

When budgeting for digital signage displays, it is always easier to add more displays later, rather than try to “right-size” a set of undersized displays already deployed.

It doesn’t need to be a $63M, 362′ x 62′ behemoth scoreboard like the Jacksonville Jaguars, but definitely give thought to the size of screen required for your application (then maybe even go up one size). As you start the process of determining the correct screen size, here are some questions to ask yourself —

  • What type and quantity of content will be displayed?
  • Will the content be displayed full screen or on segments of the screens?
  • What is the smallest content to be displayed?
  • How far is the desired viewable distance?

Once you know the answer to these questions, you know the required content size. And, required content size should be the leading factor to your screen size decision; not vice versa.

RMG Networks solution experts can take the guessing out of the equation and will determine the optimal size for your digital signage needs. For more information, contact us today or download our white paper on intelligent digital signage and business visualization.

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About the Author:
Dan Brown is a certified digital signage consultant and professional services manager at RMG Networks. He has over 18 years’ experience in all facets of digital signage and helping customers with business solutions. Connect with Dan on LinkedIn. 

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