One common question we often hear is whether LCD panels or LED displays are a better investment for commercial displays. These technologies have a few superficial similarities, but on the whole, they're quite different and, as such, suited for significantly different uses.
Let's take a quick look at the differences between them, as well as what applications each may be better suited for.
LCD stands for Liquid Crystal Display, and LCD panels are made by sandwiching a thin layer of liquid crystals between layers of glass. When current is run through the liquid crystal solution, they can be excited and made to display anything from numbers on a pocket calculator to full-color images on a TV screen.
LED's, on the other hand, are Light Emitting Diodes with each LED acting as a pixel. And this, in fact, illustrates the first and one of the largest differences between them: LED signs make their own light, whereas LCD must always have a secondary light source. This can be front- or back-lighting, which often uses white LEDs for the light, or even natural sunlight. An unlit LCD display is very difficult to see, so if the light source dies, the panel becomes unusable.
Brightness and Visibility
LED displays are virtually always brighter and have a much wider viewing angle than LCD panels, making them a much better fit for outdoor applications where people may be viewing your screen from any angle. LCDs are better suited for enclosed spaces where they don't need to be seen from far off, or from an extreme angle.
LCD displays generally use a bit less power than an LED display, although this can change significantly depending on usage and what's being used to illuminate the LCD panel. However, the difference in energy use is significantly less than the difference between LED and traditional incandescent bulbs.
Another issue to consider is image persistence. An LCD display, left showing the same image for too long, can develop a condition somewhat like "burn-in" on old cathode ray tube (CRT) displays. It's generally reversible if you turn off the display for awhile, but none the less, it can add to your maintenance hassles. A sign or display utilizing LED's will not suffer from similar problems.
Finally, LCD displays are more fragile than LED signs. A cracked LCD is often ruined, whereas if a few of the individual LED elements in a sign burn out, the overall image is still clear.
Overall, both LCD and LED lights have their specific advantages although LEDs are generally the better all-around solution for a business looking to invest in commercial displays.