With the World Cup just around the corner, stories are already circulating about an anticipated supply shortage of weatherproof screens for the pubs, clubs and hotels hop- ing to attract customers with the lure of big screen match coverage.
The scale of the business opportunity for AV resellers and integrators over the summer of 2010 shouldn’t be underesti-mated.
The hospitality sector has been hit by both a combination of poor trading conditions and the bad weather. The summer is the time to claw it back, and an outdoor screen will provide an additional attraction to punters and turns unproductive outdoor spaces into revenue generators.
While the World Cup provides the key attraction, the fact that Murray is going well in the tennis and the England cricket team has risen from its usual torpor will extend the outdoor season this summer. End-users on the verge of making a purchase decision might also be influenced by the consideration that any investment made now will still be current for the London Olympics in 2012.
The economics are fairly straightforward from an end- user’s perspective. A moderately busy town or city pub can turn- over £2,000 to £3,000 in an hour. By extending the busy period, through providing enter- tainment, and increasing the capacity of the premises, by making an outdoor space pro- ductive, the ROI on an outdoor screen is pretty impressive.
When designing an LCD dis- play for outdoor use there are essentially two problems: (1) bad weather, and (2) good weather.
Some vendors have tried to get around the problem of bad weather by installing standard commercial screens in a sealed cabinet. While this is fine in an outdoor advertising context it doesn’t provide an ideal solu- tion for outdoor entertainment.
The cabinets are bulky and can restrict the viewing angle. In contrast a display designed specifically for outdoor applica- tions looks almost as slim and stylish as its indoor equivalent, and yet offers a similar level of protection to a cabinet. The new AquaLite range is encased in metal. Wiring and controls largely concealed and the LCD panel protected with 6 mm toughened glass.
The AquaLite range is rated at IP66, which is currently the best available for an outdoor LCD screen and indicates total protection against dust and tem- porary flooding by water. This means that the screen should withstand anything that the British summer will throw at it in terms of bad weather.
But in some respects, good weather can present equally difficult operating conditions for an outdoor LCD display. The important considerations here are glare, ambient light and heat. All AquaLite screens, whether LED backlit or standard, are fit- ted with anti-reflective glass to filter out the worst of the sun’s light. While this is effective up to a point, the additional bright- ness achieved with the LED backlighting is the best defence against strong ambient light.
When compared with its direct competitors, the AquaLite is the only offering to offer the com- bination of 1500 candelas of brightness and Full HD. Where conditions don’t demand full power, the brightness can be adjusted by the user, delivering a high quality image with lower power consumption. While the additional brightness available
from the LED backlit model commands a premium over the standard fluorescent AquaLite range, it can make a difference between viewers enjoying the game or sidling off home to watch it there.
With the increasing variety of outdoor applications in mind, AquaLite LED backlit range is available in three sizes – 32- inch, 42-inch and 52-inch diagonal.
The screens are all Full HD, and as such can be used for movies and promotional videos as well as sports. Text display is very legible, offering the potential to use the displays in transport and other text or numeric data applications.
All of the models in the range feature a built-in analogue and digital tuner for accessing broadcast content.
There is also an SD card slot for digital signage applica- tions, and further models are planned with a slot for a PC card for signage applications. With the toughened glass pro- tective screen extending beyond the LCD panel, AquaLite can overprint the surround with a corporate livery for a pub chain or a hotel group, for example.
AquaLite’s initial delivery of the LED backlit models sold out very quickly, but further stock is on order from the Chinese factory in which the company has a majority shareholding.
AquaLite says that this ownership position allows them to secure supplies even when other vendors might have difficulties in meeting demand.