An interesting question is being asked with increasing frequency: should we change out displays/digital signage that appear to be working well with new models?
Conventional wisdom might say that if a display is working fine to those who are regularly exposed to it, it is best to leave it alone… at least until it no longer works as it should.
You can certainly take that approach, but it might not be wise.
This is a purely reactive approach to asset management, and in reality, may not be in the best interest of your company. Let us explore this concept further.
In the world of technology, it is usually safe to say that it is not a question of “if,” but “when” a problem (or signage failure) will occur… and how (and how quickly) that issue is resolved may be critical to your operation.
Imagine if your computer goes down unexpectedly, or in the case of this discussion your display simply does not work. Some degree of panic is likely to ensue and you react as quickly as you can.
Once the immediate problem is resolved, you will want to review what happened. In many cases you will discover that the display previously seemed to work okay, but ultimately it was “old”.
Old in this case may be applicable as early as when the original warranty expires… but certainly at the 4- or 5-year mark. The display may still work, but as it ages the risk increases exponentially.
All technologies have an operational lifespan. They universally degrade slowly over time, whether it is obvious (or even visible) or not.
At some point they will simply stop working. This presents us with the question of what to do to mitigate the risk of technologies (displays in this case) just “going out”?
One part of the answer is to incorporate a formal technology lifecycle and replacement schedule.
File this under asset management. Put all your technology into a budget cycle account. This means you buy displays (in this case) and then set aside money into the budget cycle account purposed for their replacement after the appropriate lifecycle period you have allocated.
When the time comes to replace the displays, you thus have the budget to do so. At predetermined times you proactively replace the display with new models.
At any one time you have displays that are in the beginning of their life cycle and others nearing the end.
In addition to budget planning and risk mitigation, there are technical reasons and benefits to users for replacing older displays that may appear to be working well.
Larger displays are constantly coming down in price. This means you can move up to a larger size screen that is more appropriate to your needs and do so at a price that mirrors what you paid for the smaller screen just a few years ago.
Futureproofing & Resolution
If you have a display that is currently 4 or 5 years old, it is probably a 1080P resolution design. By replacing it with a new 4K design you ensure that you are prepared for the future and the evolution we are experiencing toward higher resolutions.
The benefit to the viewer is more picture detail.
New 4K displays have significantly improved color, contrast, and uniformity. The benefit is seeing more color nuance, better contrast in light and dark scenes/images, and improved uniformity over the entire screen.
This provides an enhanced viewing experience approaching on screen what the human eye can see in nature.
New 4K displays have improved signal capabilities and response time. The benefit is a more stable image without artifacts, compatible with a wider range of source devices (without adjustment).
Features (inputs/control/SoC/processor etc.)
New displays typically include features that may not have been available only a few years ago. A feature is only a benefit if it is valuable to you, but new displays typically give you more choices that you may find you now need.
For example, integrated wireless screen mirroring has become common on commercial flat panels, making them more versatile than previous models, without needing extra components to add that function.
New displays are noticeably more energy efficient than ones that are only a few years old. If you only have a couple of displays this may not be significant but as the display count increases, the savings can be substantial.
Also, as all technology physically ages, it’s power consumption goes up due to the components degrading; this can also have a cumulative effect.
A new display includes a new warranty. That may seem simple and obvious, but the risk abatement is invaluable. If the display is a commercial product, the active warranty will typically start with onsite parts and labor for 3 years.
This can be calculated as part of your technology lifecycle plan.
Whether you like it or not, displays are critical to what we do… and they are often taken for granted. To the casual observer (or those who look at a display for hours on end), they “just work.”
We need to plan ahead for the eventual signage failure that impacts all technology and become proactive in our approach before and not after the fact.
We need to look at what our existing displays provide us and what replacement (usually with upgrades) can do to improve our user experience and reduce our risk. The adage that “if it ain’t broke, don’t fix it” does not necessarily apply!