Pixel Pitch on LED Displays: Why Should You Choose a Low Pixel Size?
There are three key components to a digital signage setup– the screen, the media player, and the management software. For each component, there are multiple options which all come with their individual benefits and disadvantages.
Today, we are going to focus on the screen, in a LED display setup. There is a lot that goes into selecting the LED display for your digital signage project. Two of the most overlooked things about LED displays are the pixel pitch also called pixel size which determines the resolution and overall appearance of your digital signage content.
Below we’ll dive into pixel pitch and why you should choose a low pitch for your LED digital signage displays. We’ll also touch on how to select the best option for your circumstances. Let’s get started!
What Actually is a Pixel?
A pixel is the smallest unit of an LED display. The pixel is what emits the light of a LED display.
Every pixel has subpixels that emit red, green, or blue light in various intensities depending on which color they are asked to produce. An LED display is comprised of many pixels all displaying their own micro section of the image which when looked at by the human eye from a distance, create the seamless picture we see.
So, the pixels are the component responsible for creating the dynamic images and videos we see on LED screens.
The cool thing is, when setting up a LED display in Play you simply add the playlist in pixels by pixels. For example, if your LED display has 800 pixels in height and 1200 pixels in the width you create a playlist using 800:1200 resolution. This also tells you that, in the LED display world, one led represents one pixel.
What is Pixel Pitch?
Now, you’ll hear a lot about pixel pitch when you look at LED displays. Though they are sometimes incorrectly used interchangeably, pixel pitch is not the size of the pixel it self.
Pixel pitch can be simply described as the measurable center-to-center distance between the individual pixels on an LED display. Pixel pitch is measured most commonly in millimeters.
For example, an 8 mm pixel pitch means there is 8 mm between the center of two pixels.
Pixel Pitch & Resolution
The pixel pitch is directly correlated to the resolution, or the sharpness, of the image that your audience sees. When there is a greater distance between the pixels on a screen, the image will have a lower resolution and therefore a duller, less clear picture.
This is where viewing distance comes in. You see, if your LED display is viewed from a distance of a couple of feet you’d want a low pixel pitch, meaning a high resolution. If your LED display is viewed from a distance of a mile you won’t need the high resolution and therefore can choose a higher pitch (A higher pitch is a larger number).
Large outdoor LED displays like digital billboards tend to have a higher pixel pitch, meaning that the pixels are spaced further apart. This is because it takes far more pixels to fill a screen of that size.
Typically a higher pixel pitch for an application like digital billboards is 12 mm and up to 30 mm where you might find a pixel pitch as low as 2.8 mm for a LED totem or a LED display at the entrance of a mall.
Low pixel pitch is desired on smaller LED displays because the higher density of pixels creates a bright, clear image even from up close. If the pixel pitch is too high on a small to mid-sized LED display and viewed up-close, the image will not look crisp because the increased distance between the pixels will be visible since it is “dead space”.
LED display pixel pitches are often marked as PXX, meaning a 6 mm Pixel Pitch is a P6.
Pixel Size & Resolution
The size of each pixel has a direct correlation to resolution as well. As you can imagine, the smaller the dimensions of a pixel, the more pixels can be placed into a specific area. The higher density of pixels on a display creates a sharper, clearer image when viewed up close.
When it comes to resolution, you frequently hear terms like “4K” and “1080p” while choosing regular displays. This terminology refers to the number of pixels packed into the screen size, though it’s not the total number of pixels, because resolutions actually have a height and a width.
So, a 4K or 1080p resolution is referring to the number of pixels comprising the height of the display, therefore, a 4K TV, for instance, has approximately 4,000 pixels in its height and around 2,000 pixels in its width and in almost all cases the led’s are so small we don’t see them nor do we focus on pixel pitch at all.
When the pixel size is larger, not as many fit, so without a small pixel size, a 4K resolution isn’t possible. Additionally, you’ll notice a larger pixel size because the image will be grainy due to each pixel handling the colors for a bigger section of the image and therefore the minute details are not captured.
Why Choose A Low Pixel Pitch and Low Pixel Size?
Now that we’ve broken down pixel pitch and pixel size, it is easier to see the benefit of a low pixel pitch and a low pixel size.
For the majority of digital signage displays, low pitch and sizing are vital since they are viewed within a short distance by your audience. A low pixel pitch and small pixel size produce a sharper and brighter image up close since there is less distance between the pixels and more pixels in every square inch.
This creates an improved audience experience which of course translates to an increase in audience engagement and positive responses.
Optimize Pixel Pitch/Size for Your Budget & Goals
Unfortunately, the higher the resolution of an LED display (smallest pixel size and lowest pixel pitch), the higher the cost. No matter the business, there’s always a budget to consider, so opting for the highest-resolution display isn’t always an option. This means that you’ll need to optimize the pixel pitch and pixel size of the display you choose based on your budget.
It is also important to consider your unique digital signage goals. To help you in this process, there are a couple of questions you should ask yourself.
For one, where will the screen be placed in reference to the viewer? A company that is going to utilize its LED display for a digital signage menu board behind a counter could go with a higher pixel pitch than a company that will have the screen at eye level above a product display because the audience will be viewing from a farther distance with a menu board versus above a product display.
The next question is what kinds of digital signage content will you display on the screen? Companies who will use their digital signage for mostly words could get away with a higher pixel pitch and pixel size because there is less detail and the lower clarity is less notable than a company who wants to include dynamic digital signage content like photos, videos, and animations.
Once you have considered these big questions about your company’s goals in relation to a digital signage set-up, it’s time to think about the budget. There are a couple of questions to ask depending on your unique situation here, too.
For instance, how many screens do you want and how large do they need to be? Additionally, have you included the cost of the other elements required for digital signage such as the digital signage media player, digital signage software, and even the small details like mounting brackets?
Thinking about these questions will allow you to balance the LED display quality versus the cost. After all, you don’t want to just buy the highest resolution display and waste money if you don’t need it, but on the other hand, you don’t want to invest your money to have a poor outcome.
Have Questions About LED Digital Signage Displays?
Play Digital Signage is a leading digital signage management software provider with a full-featured built-in content editor. Our digital signage software is compatible with any LED display no matter the size or resolution. In addition, we support every major operating system for digital signage media players.
The experts at Play Digital Signage are here to answer any questions you have about LED digital signage displays and get you started reeling in the customers with a beautiful and dynamic digital signage display.