LED stands for light-emitting diode and is a semiconductor device that emits light when an electrical current passes through it. There are two basic types of LEDs typically referenced: discrete LEDs and surface-mounted (SMD) LEDs. A discrete LED, also known as through-hole or dual in-line package (DIP), is a single conducting component mounted through a hold-punched printed circuit board (PCB) and soldered in place. An SMD LED is soldered to the PCB via six pins and is typically packaged with at least two other LEDs as a pixel. For more information on LED types and packaging, see our Pixel Packaging eBrief.

SMD stands for surface-mount device and is a method of mounting and packaging diodes to create pixels. SMD components are mounted directly onto the surface of a printed circuit board (PCB).

Discrete, also referred to as "through-hole" or "direct inline packaging (DIP)" is a method of diode placement where the components are placed via wire leads into holes in the circuit boards. Download our eBrief on Pixel Packaging for more information.

Pixel pitch is the distance between the center of a pixel and the center of an adjacent pixel. Typically, pixel pitch is measured in millimeters. For example, if an LED display has a pixel pitch of 8.0 mm, that means the center of each pixel, regardless of how many total pixels there are in the display, is eight millimeters from the center of an adjacent pixel. Pixel pitch determines the density of pixels in an LED screen. The lower the pixel pitch number, the closer the pixels are together, and thus the higher the pixel density. Pixel pitch is a very important factor when choosing the right LED display and may be affected by optimal viewing distance, proximity to other LED displays, and other environmental aspects. For more information, see our Understanding Pixel Pitch eBrief.

There are a variety of factors you should consider to determine the appropriate pixel pitch for your LED display application. Pixel pitch is the distance from the center of a pixel to the center of an adjacent pixel. The tighter the pitch (lower number), the greater number of pixels on your digital canvas and therefore the higher the resolution of your display.

Generally, the closer viewers will be to your display, the tighter the pixel pitch should be. However, there are other factors to consider including distance from grade, intended content type and resolution, display size, competing displays in the area, ambient light conditions, and more.

Find an expert consultant or manufacturer you can trust to help guide you through your decision process. For more help, see our Understanding Pixel Pitch eBrief or watch this short tutorial on pixel pitch.

16:9 (sixteen-by-nine) is a widescreen aspect ratio of 16 units wide to 9 units high. Those units can be expressed in inches, feet, pixels, or any other physical metric. It is the standard in today’s digital media for digital displays of any kind (and the content played on them), having replaced the 4:3 aspect ratio used in older TVs and older PowerPoint versions. The newer widescreen format is also used in High Definition Television (HDTV).

According to ergonomic research, the human visual field is similar to a 16" x 9" rectangle, making this ratio the “golden proportion.” Therefore, 16:9 allows for a more immersive viewing experience without having to crop the image on the screen. This is one reason SNA Displays' all-in-one LED display system comes pre-configured at a standard 16:9 aspect ratio.

When it comes to screen resolution, you often come across terms like HD, Ultra-HD, 4K, and now even 8K. Here are the basics. 

Accepted Designation Typical Resolution (H x W)
Standard Definition (SD) 480 x 640
Standard High Definition (HD) 720 x 1,080
Full HD 1,080 x 1,920
4K 2,160 x 3,840
8K 4,320 x 7,680

Typically, screen resolutions – certainly with TV manufacturers – are presented in a 16:9 aspect ratio, meaning for every 16 units wide, there are 9 units high. This is also referred to as a “widescreen” format.

  • Standard definition refers to video formats of 480 pixels high, typically presented in a 4:3 aspect ratio, meaning 640 pixels wide.
  • Standard high definition refers to video formats of 720 pixels high. With a 16:9 aspect ratio, standard HD formats are typically presented in 1,080 pixels wide.
  • Full HD refers to video formats of 1,080 pixels high. In 16:9, 1,920 pixels wide.
  • 4K refers to video formats of 2,160 pixels high. In 16:9, that’s 3,840 pixels wide (which incidentally is where the “4K” comes from).
  • 8K refers to video formats of 4,320 pixels high. In 16:9, that’s 7,680 pixels wide.

Note: Ultra-HD is a term with broad and sometimes incorrect usage, but it’s generally accepted that anything higher resolution than full HD is considered UHD. However, most companies are using terms like 4K and 8K, making the UHD moniker less and less useful.

Regardless of screen resolution, content must be shot or generated in a suitable high-resolution format to get the full effect of the screen’s capability. For example, if a user sends Full HD content to a 4K screen, the content will be “scaled up” to 4K but will maintain the visual clarity of Full HD.

A mega-spectacular is an LED display system whose size and scope are so immense that the term “spectacular” just doesn’t do it justice. These massive displays have become more common in recent years as demand for digital content has increased while LED hardware costs have decreased. Mega-spectaculars are typically 8,000 square feet or larger with high pixel densities that sometimes allow for 4K or even 8K ultra-HD processing. (This one has it all.) Usually, digital display systems on the scale of mega-spectaculars entail unparalleled planning, fabrication, project management, and onsite installation coordination that can last months and even years.

SNA Displays builds its mega-spectacular LED screens with display products from its EMPIRE™ line of direct-view LEDs. Examples of mega-spectaculars include The Reef, Circa, 20 Times Square, and Express Times Square.

The moiré effect (pronounced mwar-AY) is named after a type of textile with a rippled or wavy appearance. Also known as a moiré pattern or moiré fringe, this effect typically occurs in mesh patterns such as finely woven clothing, screens, and other grid patterns. / The moiré effect commonly appears in digital displays, especially when viewed through the lens of a camera, where rows and columns of pixels can create a complex grid pattern. Because different digital displays have varying pixel sizes, pixel pitches, and total number of pixels – creating vastly different grid patterns – the moiré effect can vary widely from display to display. Camera settings like zoom and aperture also change the factors that produce the effect.

The effect, which is a physical property and therefore does not indicate a defect of the display, occurs as the viewer’s perception of the spaces within the grid changes. Typically, the moiré effect can be mitigated with slight changes in viewing distance, viewing angle, and, in some cases, camera zoom and focus.

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For several reasons, LED displays do not emit light uniformly in all directions. For starters, diodes are designed in a way that directs or focuses light to improve viewing performance, but not all diodes are designed the same. Some LEDs have a better viewing performance because they are simply higher quality than others. Additionally, LED manufacturers bin diodes at varying uniformities, which can affect many performance factors. Depending on the pixel packaging type, LEDs within a display could be obstructed by other LEDs. Also, there are various louver designs that affect viewing performance differently. These are just a few of the reasons digital displays don't emit light in all directions uniformly.

Rather, an LED screen provides what is commonly referred to as a viewing cone, an optimal viewing area in which an observer can see all parts of the screen in consistent light and color output. Outside of the viewing cone, one might see a color shift, degraded light, obstructed LEDs, or other deficiencies related to viewing angle.

Angles at which an observer can optimally see a display (i.e., within the viewing cone) are known as viewing angles. Areas outside the viewing cone are referred to as "off-angle." Typically, LED manufacturers specify horizontal and vertical viewing angles.

As you know, a circle is 360°. So, a horizontal viewing angle (for a flat screen) cannot be more than 180°, or half of a circle. If a manufacturer lists a horizontal viewing angle of 150°, this means an observer should be able to optimally view the screen anywhere in front of the display except for 15° on either side. This is represented in Figure 1.

Vertical viewing angles are usually listed with a negative number. This is because the vast majority of the time, displays are viewed at either eye level or from below. So, if a manufacturer lists a vertical viewing angle of -70° this means an observer should be able to optimally view the screen anywhere in front and below the display except for the 20° immediately beneath the display. This is represented in Figure 2. 

  LED Viewing Angle Horizontal LED Viewing Angle Vertical

In any electronic system, components degrade over time. Light-output display systems are no different. Whereas in traditional light-driven display systems (e.g., fluorescent lamp signage) outright failures are inevitable, for LED display systems, outright failures in light output are much less common. Instead, light-emitting diodes reliably continue to emit light, albeit at slowly diminishing levels.

At some point in their life cycles, though, LEDs reach a point where they have noticeably degraded from their original luminosity. Most agree that this point occurs when the LED has reached approximately 50% of its initial light output. If you recorded and plotted an LED’s performance over time until its output reached this ~50% point, the resulting graph would be an LED degradation curve.

Several factors can impact the performance and thus the degradation curve of an LED. For starters, material defects obviously have significant and lasting effects on performance, so quality diodes and packaging are critical. Additionally, electrical issues caused by overdriving, faulty power supplies, electrical surges, and poor design of driver chips, circuit boards (PCBs), and other components can drastically reduce optimal LED performance. Finally, like all electrical systems, stress due to heat will negatively influence the performance of any LED display system. See the LED Display Temperature eBrief to learn more.

SNA LED Degredation Curve

In any electronic system, components degrade over time and digital displays are no different. Gradually the luminance of all digital displays will decay, some faster than others.

Because LCD displays are built as self-contained units, they age individually. For example, even after proper calibration before first use, a 3x3 LCD wall will have nine screens with varying color consistencies, brightness levels, and other performance deficiencies after a few years. LED displays, however, are comprised of components that are usually procured, binned, produced, and assembled together, so the effects of degradation are vastly mitigated compared to their LCD counterparts. An LED display will age much more consistently over the course of its life, maintaining a more uniform image quality. For similar reasons, replacement (new) LCD screens can be impossible to calibrate to match the other (aged) units in a video wall, while LED panels pulled from a spare parts inventory can be correctly calibrated in a matter of minutes.

Download the LED vs. LCD eBrief now for more information about the difference between these two digital display technologies.

All electronic devices generate heat. Some are designed to create heat as a primary function, but most are designed to manage or dissipate excess heat. Too much heat can shorten the lifespan of any electronic device, and this certainly applies to LED displays. Excessive heat can result in other undesirable effects, including color shifts and power supply failures.

Every watt generated by an LED display escapes as light energy or heat energy, so an efficient light energy conversion is critical. Typically, heat is shed either from the face of the display or off the back of the display cabinet by convection.

Most LED displays release heat from the face of the display and off the back of the display cabinet through ventilation.

Indoor display systems may require air conditioning if adequate ventilation is unavailable. Typically, vented air circulation is sufficient for SNA Displays’ indoor systems, but occasionally, auxiliary fans are employed to help move air.

For outdoor displays, ambient air circulation and vented cabinets are usually enough to regulate temperature.

Learn more about how heat impacts performance in our LED Display Temperature eBrief.

A NIT is a unit of measurement of luminance, or the intensity of visible light. One NIT is equal to one candela per square meter.

Brightness for LED displays is measured in NITs, which is one candela per square meter. Typical indoor brightness levels range from 300 to 1,200 NITs. Outdoor displays generally go much brighter, sometimes as high as 8,000 nits or more. Brightness is a highly variable specification, and unfortunately, many manufacturers and re-sellers mislead on this topic. Most displays can be driven to a higher brightness performance, but this comes at the expense of the components—including LED lifetime—as well as higher power consumption. Ask your manufacturer to provide the average or recommended brightness.

Brightness is a hot topic in the world of LED displays. Variances in the light output of your display can greatly affect how its messaging is received by viewers. Interestingly, the legibility of a display can be significantly reduced by too little brightness and too much brightness, so it’s important to consider a number of factors when determining the ideal brightness for your LED display. For example, if your screen is battling direct, high-intensity sunlight, you’ll need a high brightness setting so that the light from your display reaches the eyes of your viewers. However, if you apply that same brightness on your display overnight, the light output from your screen will be so bright that viewers may not be able to decipher any of the display’s content.

In the LED display industry, brightness is typically measured in nits. A nit is a unit of measurement of luminance (the intensity of visible light) equal to one candela per square meter (cd/m2). Sufficient indoor brightness levels typically range from 200 to 1,200 nits. Outdoor displays generally have a much higher range, peaking at 8,000 nits or more.

Unfortunately, brightness is a highly variable product specification and one that many manufacturers (and resellers) may use to mislead their customers or the industry at large. Depending on the quality of the diodes that comprise an LED display, most display systems can be driven to a very high brightness performance, but this can come at a significant cost to the technology itself. For example, as components within your display are worked harder and harder to reach high brightness levels, the lifetime of the overall display can be substantially reduced. Additionally, as power consumption is increased, so too are costs for power usage.

It’s important for you to consult with a manufacturer or expert who is upfront and honest about diode capabilities, optimal brightness schedules, and LED life factors.

Color is a 3-dimensional space. SNA Displays products typically have a higher number of available total colors. High-quality direct-view LED has color space significantly larger than that of television broadcast standards. If you have a standard in mind, please contact an SNA Displays representative, and we will help you find a solution.

Bit depth, sometimes referred to as color depth or color capacity, is a reference to the amount of color levels a display is capable of. To understand this important metric, see Bit Depth And Why It Matters.

There are a number of ways you can save energy with your LED display. First, if you’ve implemented your LED display in recent years, you’re already saving power over older video display systems. Additionally, there are slight differences between technology suppliers. For example, SNA Displays offers energy-saving displays through a combination of PCB design, LED package design, and power-supply selection, leading to less energy waste through released heat. We also recommend automatic brightness sensors and configuring your display such that less energy is spent driving your display during times when there is little to no sunlight. Finally, you should set your display to “idle” on a black screen when no content is present (in the late overnight hours for example), which minimizes power consumption.

We’re often asked about power consumption and how it relates to energy savings. Our selection of high-end diodes allows our display systems to drive diodes at a certain luminance for the life of the display at a much lower junction temperature. In terms of how heat is released in our system, the combination of our PCB design, LED package design, and power supply selection leads to better energy savings as compared to many other LED manufacturers.

Further, our LED displays can be configured with an ambient light sensor, which not only helps optimize brightness in various conditions but also reduces energy waste that can occur when a screen is too bright for its environment.

We help to educate our clients about how their content schedule can improve efficiency (e.g., during off hours, some displays can be set to “idle” which can reduce power consumption to a minimal amount).

The typical life for an LED display is 100,000 hours, or about 10 years give or take. However, there are many variables that affect LED life, including diode manufacturer, environment, and how the display is used over time. For example, the life of a display could be significantly reduced is a user operates a display at full brightness and bright/light content for the majority of the content schedule. The brightness for LED displays should be regulated and scheduled according to ambient light. For example, screens that are blinding at night because they are needlessly set at full brightness are losing their LED life over time.

The most immediate benefit of a curved LED display is its ability to stand out around conventional flat-surfaced screens. Additionally, curved displays reach a wider viewing audience than flat displays without a seam or sharp edge. The smooth, seamless nature of curved LED displays provide the perfect canvas for creative content.


SNA Displays’ Client Service Group (CSG) offers managed services for digital signage and related networks. Our CSG engineers monitor display output, equipment status, and network health around the clock, providing owners a worry-free experience.

In addition to 24/7 asset monitoring, CSG handles content management and scheduling, so customers don’t need to dedicate their own resources.  

Managed services is a subscription model practice of outsourcing maintenance to a vendor. Rather than providing an on-demand service, a managed service covers a range of functions typically requiring specialized skillsets that improve operations and cut expenses. Such a service means a business doesn’t need to retain in-house staff for tasks that fall outside its normal business operations.

For example, executives of a property management company have procured a digital display network but don’t have the resources to oversee that network. Since it’s more cost effective to focus on their area of expertise–managing properties–the executives hire SNA Displays’ Client Service Group to monitor and maintain the digital signage network.

Each client has different needs, but examples of managed services that the Client Service Group offers include:

  • monitoring the status and health of digital displays in a client’s network
  • managing and scheduling content
  • creating campaign and playback strategies
  • coordinating between owners, tenants, ad partners, and content creators
  • providing best practices, content guidelines, and production templates
  • correcting issues in real time and activating applicable warranty services

In addition to our content management systems and Client Service Group experts, we offer an array of content and programming solutions. We also work with some of the industry’s most respected software providers and most talented content creators. Talk to your SNA sales rep or visit our Client Service Group for more information.

Yes. SNA Displays’ Client Service Group (CSG) offers an array of managed services, including content management. The CSG team is staffed with experts in content management systems, the brains behind digital signage systems. CSG has scalable support models that will maximize content quality and uptime. 

SNA Displays’ Client Service Group (CSG) maintains a network of creative industry contacts that can be accessed for any project. Ranging from the bespoke to easily accessible library content, CSG excels in pairing displays with the right content partners. 

Yes, this is one of the managed services offered by SNA Displays’ Client Service Group (CSG). The CSG team operates a full-service network operations center (NOC) which proactively monitors your display(s) and the backend system around the clock. This includes testing performance to diagnose issues before they occur. CSG’s network operations center is staffed with technicians and engineers who are ready to respond immediately to any issue. 

Yes, SNA Displays’ Client Service Group (CSG) provides play-time statistics and analytics for owners, tenants, and advertising partners. CSG coordinates between all parties involved, ensuring transparency, clear communication, and a cohesive content strategy. 


SNAPros™ are engineers, skilled project managers, systems experts, installation managers, and support staff whose mission is total project satisfaction. Every project manager at SNA Displays is a structural, electrical, or mechanical engineer who finds solutions, plans and executes field activities, and coordinates the wide range of trades involved in an LED display installation. Likewise, our systems experts are specialists in networking, content scheduling and management, video processing, system monitoring and troubleshooting, and other skills necessary to the smooth operation of robust digital display systems. SNA Displays’ installation teams have a wide range of complementary skills and backgrounds that they use to install or oversee the installation of LED displays from 4 square feet to more than 40,000. Finally, our SNAPros™ support staff manage distribution and inventory, fulfill warranty and maintenance requests, and perform all the logistics necessary to ensure your creative vision comes to life.

Yes, we provide diagnostics solutions at no additional charge. For all installations, a diagnostic PC is supplied, providing the ability to view display health  from up-stream processing through display hardware. Additionally, we train end-users how to properly use their diagnostic PC. This system allows users to view failures and the operation status of power, signal, temperature, and brightness systems, if applicable. This diagnostic coverage includes individual displays as well as displays that are part of an array. Also, each control system setup is equipped with scanning and sensor features to actively self-diagnose each display asset.

The Content Management System (CMS) can host content on an external or internal cloud with local access points, locally, or using a hybrid solution to maximize the benefits of both options. Our SNAPros™ have a thorough understanding of Information Security compliance and can determine the best approach and implementation procedure for each client’s CMS solution.

There are generally two ways to mount exterior LED signage to a building or facade.

Steel Structures

Most buildings are equipped with steel spandrel beams and/or I-beams for structural integrity, making this mounting method fairly simple. Typically, the building owner supplies the connection to the building’s primary steel in the form of steel stub-outs that are welded or bolted to the structural beams. Our scope usually includes the secondary steel structure, a network of vertical and horizontal tubes (i.e., a truss and/or a service catwalk system), which is then attached to the stub-outs via a match or marry plate.

After the secondary steel is in place, an engineer designs and implements attachment bolts that connect our subframes and LED cabinets to secondary rails using mounting clips. These clips, which are attached with an engineered connection, provide some flexibility and can adjust to imperfections in the steel tubes.

Concrete Structures

For existing building structures that use poured concrete rather than steel beams, stub-outs are attached to the concrete using chemical epoxy anchors. First, the installer drills holes into the concrete and injects a chemical epoxy resin. A threaded rod or bolt is then inserted into the epoxy-filled hole. After the assembly has time to set, a steel plate with aligned holes is placed over the assembly, providing the necessary structural integrity to mount the subframes and LED cabinets.

For a new building with a poured-in-place concrete structure, embedment plates (shown below) may be cast into the concrete to provide the stub connection needed for the secondary steel.

SNA Mounting Methods FAQ Photos 8

There are numerous factors that go into determining digital signage placement, so we recommend hiring a consultant to help you optimize the technology. However, there are three general considerations that weigh heavily in all placement decisions, particularly DOOH media. 

1. What is "the read"? Display location is important, but the position and where the display is facing are also vital. This will affect how long viewers can see the display, whether viewers can see the display under direct sunlight, and how well the display matches its surroundings?

2. Who's in the neighborhood? Look at what else is on the block (businesses, other advertising, etc.). This could impact the display size, location, and potential content. 

3. Who's the intended audience? Audience influences content greatly, which in turn may influence the display's physical design. For example, tourists will be receptive to different kinds of advertising than the CEOs of Fortune 500 companies or top Wall Street executives. 

Well, it depends on the overall display size, pixel pitch, complexity of design and many, many other factors. Direct-view LED displays can cost anywhere from the tens of thousands to several million dollars. If you'd like to narrow that range significantly for your project, contact a representative on our sales team.

The length of an installation will depend on the scope of the project and can vary from a few weeks to several months.

We know well the value of allowing prospective clients the opportunity to  touch and feel LED display products in person, compare pixel pitches at various viewing distances, and interact with certain types of content. 

In the U.S., we have showrooms in our New York, Los Angeles, and Atlanta offices, where you'll find  showcases from our BRILLIANT Interior, BOLD Interior, and EMPIRE Exterior product series in a wide range of pitches. To schedule a visit to one of our product showrooms, please get in touch with our team.

As a global manufacturing company, we service markets all over the world. Our U.S.-based sales and service groups handle inquiries from North, Central, and South America as well as those from Europe. Additionally, we have a vast network of installation and service partners around the globe, including Europe, Asia, the Middle East, South America, and Australia. Contact us today, and we'll find the right representative for you.

SNA Displays is capable of providing a wide variety of financing solutions tailored to meet the specific needs of individual clients or projects. We offer options to finance products, services, installation and more. For more information about SNA Displays' financing solutions or to speak to someone about these options, email [email protected].

We established our channel program to support a select group of best-in-breed audio-visual integrators. This division allows us and our technology experts to connect with industry specialists, commercial A/V integrators, key consultants, value-added solution providers and other strategic relationships. Contact our channel division today to discuss our dealer program and the services we offer.

We have more than two million square feet of manufacturing space in Shanghai, where the vast majority of our products are fabricated. All work derived in North America, Central America, and South America—from project award to commissioning to post-installation service—is managed by our talented team at SNA Displays.

The best way to begin the discussion is to submit a query through our website at Based on the details you provide, we'll assess your project and connect you with the appropriate SNA Displays representative.

Depending on the project scope, various scheduling factors, and project requirements, we typically produce and deliver display products anywhere between 8 and 14 weeks.

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