The true cost of horses and video walls

Posted by in Utilities and process control

Control room video wall and horse
My 7-year old daughter loves horses. And, like every 7-year old girl that loves horses, her biggest dream is to have her own pony. Last week, when coming home from her horseback riding lesson, she said somebody told her that it’s actually not that expensive to buy a horse. She said it with great expectations – because she knows her birthday is coming up...

Well, I hated to shatter her dreams, but I explained her that although horses are not that expensive to buy, they are hugely expensive to own. You have the food, the stables, the veterinary costs, the equipment, etc. That’s what every sensible parent would say, right? And my daughter understood – although I can’t say she liked my point of view one bit.

For 24/7 video walls, you also have the initial cost, and the additional expenses.

But if we change the words ‘daughter’ to ‘company’, and ‘horse’ to ‘video wall’ in the story above, a lot of people have difficulties in making the same reasoning. Although the concepts are in fact very similar.

For 24/7 video walls, you also have the initial cost, and the additional expenses. These include maintenance, power costs, repair costs, spare parts, etc. Pretty much like with horses. There is however one big difference: for horses, these ownership costs are pretty much fixed no matter which breed. For video walls, there are huge differences between the different types of technologies, and different brands. So let’s elaborate, and let’s keep on drawing the comparison with horses.

Decorating the stables and buying equipment (or installation costs)

Video walls and horses funny imageIt even starts at the installation process. Setting up a video wall is tricky, aligning it correctly is daunting. Up until the previous generation of rear-projection cubes, the entire display wall needed to be manually aligned. Barco’s new RGB laser video wall, on the other hand, includes fully motorized movements for adjusting X-Y focus, zoom, keystone (H + V) and rotation through 7-axis settings using a software web interface. This makes sure engineers can now adjust, align and commission the video wall with half the efforts!

Stables (or real estate costs)

Real estate is expensive. So it’s best to restrict the needed space to a minimum. For ponies this is difficult (and could be filed as animal abuse), but for rear-projection video walls there are possibilities. The shallow depth of Barco’s RGB laser video walls make sure that the needed space is limited. However, there is always the need for a rear maintenance area. But by choosing the front accessible option, the modules can be positioned directly against the wall, eliminating the space needed behind the video wall.

Horse food (or energy costs)

A large video wall, running in 24/7 mode, consumes a lot of energy. A decade ago, when lamps were generally used, this was a really huge amount. The introduction of LED improved energy consumption in a very beneficial way. RGB laser even tops this, being 2X more energy efficient at higher brightness levels. However, there is also the cost of cooling. Because RGB laser produces less heat than LEDs at the same brightness levels, cooling needs reduce. Compared to competing LED-lit video walls, Barco’s RGB laser series let you save 50% on cooling costs.

The veterinary costs (or maintenance needs)

Lifetime comparison RGB laser video walls LED and laser-phosphor
Lifetime comparison between different types of video wall technologies

Horses get sick from time to time, or need new horseshoes. Video walls can break down, or need preemptive maintenance to keep going. With a lifetime of 100,000 hours (or 11.5 years), Barco’s RGB laser banks last longer than any video wall in the industry. Competing laser-phosphor or LED engines have a much lower lifetime – half and two thirds respectively. This means that they typically need to be replaced 1 (for LED) or 2 (laser-phosphor) times during the lifetime of Barco’s RGB laser video wall.

Furthermore, Barco’s RGB laser video walls need no color wheel, which also need to be replaced typically twice a lifetime. For a 10 x 3 video wall, this means that 60 color wheels need to be switched, at an estimated cost of 600 USD a piece. Another maintenance cost is calibration and alignment. After time, the colors and brightness of displays change a bit. And though this is not a real issue for stand-alone screens, it’s ergonomically disturbing in video walls. It makes sure that all different tiles look a bit different, giving a horribly unbalanced effect. Manual calibration takes a lot of effort, taking up to one hour per module. That is why Barco has created Sense X, an automatic brightness and color calibration system that continuously adjusts settings for the entire video wall, eliminating manual calibration totally.


There are a lot more cost saving measures in Barco’s RGB laser video walls (we also have the remote power supply, the supreme uptime, the upgrade path, …) but you catch my drift: you best choose the video wall with the lowest cost of ownership. If Barco would create an RGB Laser Pony, my daughter would probably get her way…

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About the author

Suchit Rout, Global Strategic Marketing-Operator Experience

Suchit Rout heads the Global Strategic Marketing team in the Enterprise business unit for the Operator Experience group at Barco and is based in Atlanta, USA. He has over fourteen years of strategic marketing management experience across various regions and economies of the world. During his tenure at Barco since 2007, he has held various positions in technology, product marketing, market development, strategic business development, key account management, strategic alliances and strategic marketing management. Before leading his current effort, he led Barco’s Strategic Alliance program worldwide (consisting today of over 45 global technology companies and growing), as well as various strategic business development and go-to-market programs. He speaks English and Spanish as primary business languages and can be reached at @SuchitRout.

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