Take a walk through any big-box retailer of your choice and it’s likely you’ll encounter multiple sales displays advertising incredible deals on new televisions. It seems while the average size increases, the pricing keeps decreasing. While this understandably leads many consumers to consider an upgrade for the TV in their living room, it can also introduce a bit of confusion when it comes time to consider a display for your business.

What we'll do here is lay out some key differences between a TV designed for consumer use and a display designed for commercial use, so that you can figure out the best solution for your needs.

Purpose

Let’s begin by talking about purpose and intention. It’s important before you even start to look for a display that you know exactly what you want to do with it and what you want to display on it.

 

Take a moment and ask yourself these 4 questions:

  1. What will I be showing on my display? (A menu, a spreadsheet, an advertisement, etc.)?
  2. What will be the source of the content (A computer, a signage player, a camera feed, etc.)?
  3. Where will I hang my display (A lobby, outdoors, behind a sales counter, beside a kitchen/bar, etc.)?
  4. How many hours will my display need to be on throughout the day?

Let’s discuss the purpose and intention for which a consumer TV and a commercial display are made. Consumer TV’s are made for the most basic form of watching TV. Whether it’s cable, Netflix, Hulu, your favorite sports team–these TV’s are designed to entertain you and your family for on average 3-4 hours per day, typically. However, Commercial TV’s are intended for a much broader usage. Some are designed to run 16/7 (16 hours a day, 7 days a week) or even 24/7. In addition to a TV’s intended purpose, there are some other core differences between one made for commercial use versus one made for consumer use. For now, we’re going to focus on 5 areas of distinction.

Cost

No one wants to admit it, but this is typically what makes or breaks the conversation. There are many factors both in the commercial market and consumer market that play into the cost, so let’s first talk ballpark cost. At the time of writing this article, the average cost of a 65” TV at Best Buy is around $650. In comparison, the average cost of a commercial display of the same size is about $950-$1000. There is no doubt about the fact that commercial displays will cost you more money up front; it’s in the long-term, however, where a commercial display really shows it’s value–and that’s illustrated most effectively by discussing the 4 other differences between the two types of TVs.

Warranty

Let’s say you just couldn’t say no to an amazing sale on a TV at your local big-box retailer. You bring it to the office, unbox it, hang it up, plug it in and you’re good to go. Fast forward 6 months later, it randomly stops working. So you do what any sane person would do and google the manufacturer’s customer service number, listen to mundane hold music for 53 minutes, only to be instructed to unplug it and then plug it back in. Upon the technical support person’s realization that your TV is, in fact, dead (RIP), they inform you that this would have totally been covered under your warranty– except the utilization of the TV in a commercial space has voided the warranty (or significantly reduced it to 90 days or less). This was a totally hypothetical situation, but it’s a real possibility and we’ve seen it play out just like that. Why would a manufacturer honor a warranty for its product being used as it wasn’t intended to be? Fortunately, commercial display manufacturers have intended their TV to be used in a commercial application, so they’ll stand behind it in the case that it malfunctions. This can look like a 1-year warranty, but often times, manufacturers have more robust warranties with extended coverage periods (typically between 3-5 years). This can make a huge difference in the long-term when it comes to the total cost of your solution investment.

Feature Difference

The average consumer TV is relatively limited when it comes to features and inputs. This makes sense, because it’s likely you only have a couple HDMI sources in your living room, so a basic set of inputs is sufficient. A commercial display will usually come with a much broader range of features and inputs. This can vary based on the specific model but it will typically include features like RS-232 (for remote management of your TV), and more inputs to suit the various sources you may encounter in a commercial environment.

Additionally, commercial displays can withstand various elements (like heat from a close kitchen or wind from a patio) that a consumer TV simply cannot handle. Lastly, many times when a display is placed in a lobby or used as a sign, it’s setup in a portrait orientation as opposed to the traditional landscape orientation we commonly see with a TV. A consumer TV should never be placed in this orientation and only commercial models designed for that orientation should be used. Here is where it is most important to go back to the questions you answered at the beginning and find out what features you most need based on your intended use.

Brightness/Glass

If you’re using your display for signage purpose, placing it outside, even in a brightly lit lobby or conference room, brightness plays a huge role. Brightness on a TV’s display is rated in units called Nits. The average nit rating for a consumer TV is between 150 – 250 nits. A commercial TV’s nit rating can vary from 300-2000 nits, depending on the model and intended purpose. Though a consumer TV may do the job in a room where lighting conditions are similar to a standard living room, it’s very likely that your business needs a brighter TV for optimal viewing.

Aesthetics

This one may not play a huge role in your decision, but it’s worth including in the conversation. As quick as the sales displays refresh in those retail stores, the new models are released and, almost always, they vary in terms of style and look. This introduces a real challenge if you plan to introduce new displays in your workplace over a period of time. Though the styles of commercial displays vary slightly, for the most part, they remain relatively consistent in their look because manufacturers understand that a business may phase in TVs as they grow and expand. Commercial TV’s also tend to have a smaller bezel (the area on your display that surrounds the screen) as to not distract from their use as a sign or source of information, and it’s possible they may show no logo at all, if uniformity is important to the aesthetic of your workplace.